Process Improvement

Blog posts and articles about the use of data analysis and statistics to improve processes in business and industry.

Screening experimental designs allow you to study a very large number of factors in a very limited number of runs. The objective is to focus on the few factors that have a real effect and eliminate the effects that are not significant. This is often the initial typical objective of any experimenter when a DOE (design of experiments) is performed. Table of Factorial Designs Consider the table below.... Continue Reading
If you’re already a strong user of Minitab Statistical Software, then you’re probably familiar with how to use bar charts to show means, medians, sums, and other statistics. Bar charts are excellent tools, but traditionally used when you want all of your categorical variables to have different sections on the chart. When you want to plot statistics with groups that flow directly from one category... Continue Reading
Via Christi Health, the largest provider of healthcare in Kansas, operates a Center for Clinical Excellence that's made up of a team of quality practitioners, all who have Lean and Six Sigma training. I recently had the opportunity to talk with the team about the types of projects they're working on. I learned not only about the areas of patient care where they are targeting improvements, but about... Continue Reading
The Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology are at it again! A few months back, we blogged about the Six Sigma project they did to reduce food waste at the on-campus dining center. This time, the students—lead by Dr. Diane Evans, Six Sigma black belt and associate professor of mathematics at Rose-Hulman—are performing a Lean Six Sigma project to reduce the amount of recycling... Continue Reading
Control charts are some of the most useful tools in statistical science. They track process statistics over time and detect when the mean or standard deviation change from what they have been. The signals that control charts send about special causes can help you zero in on the fastest ways to improve any process, whether you’re making tires, turbines, or trying to improve patient care. I’ve menti... Continue Reading
There is more than just the p value in a probability plot—the overall graphical pattern also provides a great deal of useful information. Probability plots are a powerful tool to better understand your data. In this post, I intend to present the main principles of probability plots and focus on their visual interpretation using some real data. In probability plots, the data density distribution... Continue Reading
Minitab graphs are powerful tools for investigating your process further and removing any doubt about the steps you should take to improve it. With that in mind, you’ll want to know every feature about Minitab graphs that can help you share and communicate your results effectively. While many ways to modify your graph are on the Editor menu, some of the best features become available when you... Continue Reading
It's all too easy to make mistakes involving statistics. Powerful statistical software can remove a lot of the difficulty surrounding statistical calculation, reducing the risk of mathematical errors—but  correctly interpreting the results of an analysis can be even more challenging.  No one knows that better than Minitab's technical trainers. All of our trainers are seasoned statisticians with... Continue Reading
It’s common to think that process improvement initiatives are meant to cater only to manufacturing processes, simply because manufacturing is where Lean and Six Sigma began. However, many other industries, in particular financial services and banking, also rely on data analysis and Lean Six Sigma tools to improve processes. Rod Toro is a business process improvement manager at Edward Jones, and I... Continue Reading
In April 2012, I wrote a short paper on binary logistic regression to analyze wine tasting data. At that time, François Hollande was about to get elected as French president and in the U.S., Mitt Romney was winning the Republican primaries. That seems like a long time ago… Now, in 2014, Minitab 17 Statistical Softwarehas just been released. Had Minitab 17, been available in 2012, would have I... Continue Reading
The 2014 ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement is coming up in early May in Dallas, and this year’s International Team Excellence Award Process (ITEA) will also come to a close at the conference, as winners from the finalist teams will be chosen for ASQ gold, silver, or bronze-level statuses. What’s ITEA? The annual ASQ ITEA process celebrates the accomplishments of quality improvement... Continue Reading
The other day I was talking with a friend about control charts, and I wanted to share an example one of my colleagues wrote on the Minitab Blog.  Looking back through the index for "control charts" reminded me just how much material we've published on this topic. Whether you're just getting started with control charts, or you're an old hand at statistical process control, you'll find some valuable... Continue Reading
With more options, come more decisions. With equivalence testing added to Minitab 17, you now have more statistical tools to test a sample mean against target value or another sample mean. Equivalence testing is extensively used in the biomedical field. Pharmaceutical manufacturers often need to test whether the biological activity of a generic drug is equivalent to that of a brand name drug that... Continue Reading
by Laerte de Araujo Lima, guest blogger In a previous post (How Data Analysis Can Help Us Predict This Year's Champions League), I shared how I used Minitab Statistical Softwareto predict the 2013-2014 season of the UEFA Champions league. This involved the regression analysis of main critical-to-quality (CTQ) factors, which I identified using the “voice of the customer” suggestions of some... Continue Reading
Ughhh... your process is producing some parts that don't meet your customer's specifications! Fortunately, after a little hard work, you find a way to improve the process. However, you want to perform the appropriate statistical analysis to back up your findings and make it easier to explain the process improvements to your boss. And it's important to remember that your boss is much like the boss... Continue Reading
Many Six Sigma and quality improvement tools could be applied in other areas. For example, I wonder whether my son's teachers could benefit from a little attribute agreement analysis.  He seemed frustrated the other day when I picked him up at school. He'd been working on a presentation that needed to be approved by his teachers. (My son attends a charter school, and each class is taught by a... Continue Reading
My main objective is to encourage greater use of statistical techniques in the service sector and present new ways to implement them. In a previous blog, I presented an approach you can use  to identify process steps that may be improved in the service sector (quartile analysis). In this post I'll show how nonparametric distribution analysis may be implemented in the service sector to analyze... Continue Reading
Minitab’s Assistant got a lot of splashy upgrades for Minitab 17. The addition of DOE and multiple regression to the Assistant are large feature improvements with obvious advantages. But there are many subtler, but still fantastic additions that shouldn't be overlooked. One of those additions is the example patterns added to the Stability Report for control charts.  The Stability Report was... Continue Reading
"You take 10 parts and have 3 operators measure each 2 times." This standard approach to a Gage R&R experiment is so common, so accepted, so ubiquitous that few people ever question whether it is effective.  Obviously one could look at whether 3 is an adequate number of operators or 2 an adequate number of replicates, but in this first of a series of posts about "Gauging Gage," I want to look at... Continue Reading
When we think about jobs with a romantic edge to them, most of us probably think of professions that involve action or danger.  Spies, soldiers, cops, criminals -- these are types of professions romantic leads have. Along with your occasional musician, reporter, or artist, who don't have the action but at least bring drama. But you know who never shows up as a romantic lead?  Quality improvement... Continue Reading