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Project Tools

Blog posts and articles about tools and techniques that help keep Lean and Six Sigma projects on track.

Wildfires in California have killed at least 40 people and burned more than 217,000 acres in the past few weeks. Nearly 8,000 firefighters are trying to contain the blazes with the aid of more than 800 firetrucks, 70 helicopters and 30 planes. In remote areas difficult to access by firetruck, smokejumpers may be needed to parachute in to fight the fires. But danger looms before a smokejumper even... Continue Reading
Research out of the Juran Institute, which specializes in training, certification, and consulting on quality management globally, reveals that only 30 percent of improvement initiatives succeed.   And why do these initiatives fail so frequently? This research concludes that a lack of management support is the No. 1 reason quality improvement initiatives fail. But this is certainly not a problem... Continue Reading
Maybe you're just getting started with analyzing data. Maybe you're reasonably knowledgeable about statistics, but it's been a long time since you did a particular analysis and you feel a little bit rusty. In either case, the Assistant menu in Minitab Statistical Software gives you an interactive guide from start to finish. It will help you choose the right tool quickly, analyze your data... Continue Reading
In statistics, as in life, absolute certainty is rare. That's why statisticians often can't provide a result that is as specific as we might like; instead, they provide the results of an analysis as a range, within which the data suggest the true answer lies. Most of us are familiar with "confidence intervals," but that's just of several different kinds of intervals we can use to characterize the... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger At the end of the first part of this story, a group of evil trouble-making chickens had convinced all of their fellow chickens to march on the walled city of Wetzlar, where, said the evil chickens, they all would be much happier than they were on the farm. The chickens marched through the night and arrived at Wetzlar on the Lahn as the sun came up. “Let us in!”... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Wetzlar, there was a farm with over a thousand chickens, two pigs, and a cow. The chickens were well treated, but a few rabble-rousers among them got the rest of the chickens worked up. These trouble-making chickens looked almost like the other chickens, but in fact they were evil chickens.  By HerbertT - Eigenproduktion, CC... Continue Reading
The Six Sigma quality improvement methodology has lasted for decades because it gets results. Companies in every country around the world, and in every industry, have used this logical, step-by-step method to improve the quality of their processes, products, and services. And they've saved billions of dollars along the way. However, Six Sigma involves a good deal of statistics and data analysis,... Continue Reading
Six Sigma is a quality improvement method that businesses have used for decades—because it gets results. A Six Sigma project follows a clearly defined series of steps, and companies in every industry in every country around the world have used this method to resolve problems. Along the way, they've saved billions of dollars. But Six Sigma relies heavily on statistics and data analysis, and many... Continue Reading
All processes have variation, some of which is inherent in the process, and isn't a reason for concern. But when processes show unusual variation, it may indicate a change or a "special cause" that requires your attention.  Control charts are the primary tool quality practitioners use to detect special cause variation and distinguish it from natural, inherent process variation. These charts graph... Continue Reading
In my time at Minitab, I’ve gotten a good understanding of what types of graphs users create. Everyone knows about histograms, bar charts, and time series plots. Even relatively less familiar plots like the interval plot and individual value plot are still used quite often. However, one of the most underutilized graphs we have available is the area graph. If you’re not familiar with an Area... Continue Reading
If you have a process that isn’t meeting specifications, using the Monte Carlo simulation and optimization tools in Companion by Minitab can help. Here’s how you, as an engineer in the medical device industry, could use Companion to improve a packaging process and help ensure patient safety. Your product line at AlphaGamma Medical Devices is shipped in heat-sealed packages with a minimum seal... Continue Reading
How many samples do you need to be “95% confident that at least 95%—or even 99%—of your product is good? The answer depends on the type of response variable you are using, categorical or continuous. The type of response will dictate whether you 'll use: Attribute Sampling: Determine the sample size for a categorical response that classifies each unit as Good or Bad (or, perhaps, In-spec or... Continue Reading
My previous post focused on manipulating text data using Minitab’s calculator. In this post we continue to explore some of the useful tools for working with text data, and here we’ll focus on Minitab’s Data menu. This is the second in a 3-part series, and in the final post we’ll look at the new features in Minitab’s Editor menu. Using the Data Menu When I think of the Data menu, I think... Continue Reading
With Minitab, it’s easy to create graphs and manage numeric, date/time and text data. But Minitab’s enhanced data manipulation features make it easier to work with text data, too. This is the first of three posts in which I'm going to focus on various tools in Minitab that are useful when working with text data, including the Calculator, the Data menu, and the Editor menu. Using the Calculator You... Continue Reading
One of the biggest pieces of international news last year was the so-called "Brexit" referendum, in which a majority of voters in the United Kingdom cast their ballots to leave the European Union (EU). That outcome shocked the world. Follow-up media coverage has asserted that the younger generation prefers to remain in the EU since that means more opportunities on the continent. The older... Continue Reading
Suppose that you plan to source a substantial amount of parts or subcomponents from a new supplier. To ensure that their quality level is acceptable to you, you might want to assess the capability levels (Ppk and Cpk indices) of their manufacturing processes and check whether their critical process parameters are fully under control (using control charts). If you are not sure about the efficiency... Continue Reading
For a process improvement practitioner, finishing the Control Phase of the DMAIC process is your ticket to move on to your next project. You’ve done an excellent job leading the project team because they identified root causes, developed and implemented solutions to resolve those root causes, put a control plan in place and transitioned the process back to the Process Owner. Soon, however, you... Continue Reading
If you have a process that isn’t meeting specifications, using Monte Carlo simulation and optimization can help. Companion by Minitab offers a powerful, easy-to-use tool for Monte Carlo simulation and optimization, and in this blog we'll look at the case of product engineers involved in steel production for automobile parts, and how they could use Companion to improve a process. The tensile... Continue Reading
Last week I was fielding questions on social media about Minitab 18, the latest version of our statistical software. Almost as soon as the new release was announced, we received a question that comes up often from people in pharmaceutical and medical device companies: "Is Minitab 18 FDA-validated?" How Software Gets Validated That's a great question. To satisfy U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)... Continue Reading
Companion by Minitab® is our software for executing and reporting on quality improvement projects. It consists of a desktop app, which practitioners use to do project work, and a web app, which includes a customizable dashboard that offers stakeholders up-to-the-minute graphical summaries and reports. Since the desktop app automatically updates the dashboard as teams do their work, teams are freed... Continue Reading