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Project Tools

Blog posts about statistical and practical tools used to manage quality improvement projects including Lean and Six Sigma initiatives.

In Part 5 of our series, we began the analysis of the experiment data by reviewing analysis of covariance and blocking variables, two key concepts in the design and interpretation of your results. The 250-yard marker at the Tussey Mountain Driving Range, one of the locations where we conducted our golf experiment. Some of the golfers drove their balls well beyond this 250-yard maker during a few of... Continue Reading
Whatever industry you're in, you're going to need to buy supplies. If you're a printer, you'll need to purchase inks, various types of printing equipment, and paper. If you're in manufacturing, you'll need to obtain parts that you don't make yourself.  But how do you know you're making the right choice when you have multiple suppliers vying to fulfill your orders?  How can you be sure you're... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

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Before I joined Minitab, I worked for many years in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences as a writer and editor. I frequently wrote about food science and particularly food safety, as I regularly needed to report on the research being conducted by Penn State's food safety experts, and also edited course materials and bulletins for professionals and consumers about ensuring they had safe... Continue Reading
By Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger.   Minitab Statistical Software can assist us in our analysis of data, but we must make judgments when selecting the data for an analysis. A good operational definition can be invaluable for ensuring the data we collect can be effectively analyzed using software. Dr. W. Edwards Deming explains in Out of the Crisis (1989), “An operational definition of safe, round,... Continue Reading
All processes have some variation. Some variation is natural and nothing to be concerned about. But in other cases, there is unusual variation that may need attention.  By graphing process data against an upper and a lower control limit, control charts help us distinguish natural variation from special cause variation that we need to be concerned about. If a data point falls outside the limits on... Continue Reading
The two previous posts in this series focused on manipulating data using Minitab’s calculator and the Data menu. In this third and final post, we continue to explore helpful features for working with text data and will focus on some new features in Minitab 17.2’s Editor menu. Using the Editor Menu  The Editor menu is unique in that the options displayed depend on what is currently active... 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 17.2’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 17.2’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.  Now Minitab 17.2’s enhanced data manipulation features make it even easier to work with text data. 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 Y... Continue Reading
Suppose that you have designed a brand new product with many improved features that well help create a much better customer experience. Now you must ensure that it is manufactured according to the best quality and reliability standards, so that it gets the excellent long-term reputation it deserves from potential customers. You need to move quickly and seamlessly from Research and Development into... Continue Reading
As a member of Minitab's Technical Support team, I get the opportunity to work with many people creating control charts. They know the importance of monitoring their processes with control charts, but many don’t realize that they themselves could play a vital role in improving the effectiveness of the control charts.   In this post I will show you how to take control of your charts by using Minitab... Continue Reading
Sure, Minitab Statistical Software is powerful and easy to use, but did you know that it’s also magic? One of the illusions that Minitab can perform is the world famous disappearing-reappearing-analysis-settings act. Of course, as with many illusions, it’s not so hard once you know the trick. In this case, it’s downright easy once you know about Minitab project files. If you’ve done any work in... Continue Reading
Here's a shocking finding from the most recent ASQ Global State of Quality report: The higher you rise in your organization's leadership, the less often you receive reports about quality metrics. Only 2% of senior executives get daily quality reports, compared to 33% of front-line staff members.   A quarter of the senior executives reported getting quality metrics on a monthly basis, at least. But... Continue Reading
by The Discrete Sharer, guest blogger As Minitab users, many of us have found staged control charts to be an effective tool to quantify and demonstrate the “before and after” state of our process improvement activities. However, have you ever considered using them to demonstrate the effects of changes to compensation/incentive plans for your employees?  Here's an example of how a mid-sized... Continue Reading
Everyone loves a Pareto chart. That is, everyone who knows that Pareto charts are a type of bar chart ordered by bar size to help you to determine which bars comprise the vital few that you care about and which are the trivial many that you don't care about. Pareto charts are a great tool for communicating where the largest gains can be made as you focus your improvement efforts. Since I love... 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
I wrote a post a few years back on the difficulties that can ensue when you’re just trying to get started on your Lean Six Sigma or quality improvement initiative. It can become especially difficult when you have many potential projects staring at you, but you aren’t quite sure which one will give you the most bang for your buck. A project prioritization matrix can be a good place to start when you... 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
In looking for the answer to an unrelated quality improvement question the other day, I ran across a blog post that answers a question I'd had for a while: what's the origin of the value stream map?  A value stream map (VSM) is a key tool in many quality improvement projects, especially those using Lean. The value stream is the collection of all of the activities, both value-added and non-value... Continue Reading
Making parts that are truly interchangeable is a critical aspect of modern manufacturing. The same parts may be manufactured in different plants spread around the globe or by suppliers located far away. Parts need to be manufactured to specifications to ensure that they are almost identical to allow an easy assembly of new products. Interchangeability is increasingly important in the... Continue Reading
In previous posts, I’ve outlined some reasons why a Lean Six Sigma project might have been deemed a failure. We’ve gathered many of these reasons from surveying and talking with our customers. I’d like to present a few more reasons why projects might fail, and then share some “words of wisdom” from Minitab trainers on how you can avoid these project failures. Forcing Projects into DMAIC Certain... Continue Reading