dcsimg
 

Project Tools

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

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
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

MINITAB INSIGHTS CONFERENCE 2017

Chicago, IL | 11-12 September, 2017

BUILD SKILLS. EXCHANGE IDEAS. DEVELOP COMMUNITY.

Register by July 20 for a $100 discount!

LEARN MORE! >>
 
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
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
In a previous post, I discussed how to avoid a disastrous Lean Six Sigma project failure, specifically if the reason behind the failure is that the project solution never gets implemented. In this post, let's discuss a few other project roadblocks that our customers cited when we asked them about the challenges they come across in completing projects. I’ll also go into detail about suggestions our i... Continue Reading
Tired of squinting at your computer screen?  Want to make an impact with the trainees in the last row of your class?  Try zooming in!  Here are some helpful tips on how you can blow up the size of Minitab Statistical Software screen elements for easier viewing.  Who knew Minitab looked so great close up? Worksheet Zoom Select any cell in the worksheet.  Hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard while... Continue Reading
Failure. Just saying the word makes me cringe. And if you’re human, you’ve probably had at least a couple failures in both your work and home life (that you've hopefully been able to overcome). But when it comes to Lean Six Sigma projects, there’s really nothing worse than having your entire project fail. Sometimes these projects can last months, involve a large project team, and cost companies a... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger The field of statistics has a long history and many people have made contributions over the years. Many contributors to the field were educated as statisticians, such as Karl Pearson and his son Egon Pearson. Others were people with problems that needed solving, and they developed statistical methods to solve these problems. The Standard Normal Distribution One... Continue Reading
We all seem to have our favorite statistical or quality improvement tool.  I’ve always been drawn to process mapping, or what's sometimes referred to as ‘flow charting.’ Even before I started my work with Minitab and learning about quality improvement techniques, I’ve considered myself somewhat of a visual learner. I notice myself explaining things to others by drawing pictures—and when it comes to... Continue Reading
Here are seven quality improvement tools I see in action again and again. Most of these quality tools have been around for a while, but that certainly doesn’t take away any of their worth! The best part about these tools is that they are very simple to use and work with quickly in Minitab Statistical Software or Companion, but of course you can use other methods, or even pen and paper. 1. Fishbone... Continue Reading
When it comes to creating control charts, it's generally good to collect data in subgroups, if possible. But sometimes gathering subgroups of measurements isn't an option. Measurements may be too expensive. Production volume may be too low. Products may have a long cycle time. In many of those cases, you can use an I-MR chart. Like all control charts, the I-MR chart has three main uses:  Monitoring... Continue Reading
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ken Jones, professor of operations and supply chain management at Indiana State University, about a business process improvement course he teaches at the university. The course covers a variety of Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques and gives students the opportunity to team with local businesses to complete real quality improvement projects. Upon... Continue Reading
I once had a boss who had difficulty understanding many, many things. When I need to discuss statistical concepts with people who don't have a statistical background, I like to think about how I could explain things so even my old boss would get it.  My boss and I shared a common interest in rock and roll, so that's the device I'll use to explain one of the workhorses of quality statistics, the... Continue Reading