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Project Tools

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

Over the last year or so I’ve heard a lot of people asking, “How can I calculate B10 life in Minitab?” Despite being a statistician and industrial engineer (mind you, one who has never been in the field like the customers asking this question) and having taken a reliability engineering course, I’d never heard of B10 life. So I did some research. The B10 life metric originated in the ball and roller... Continue Reading
Stepwise regression and best subsets regression are both automatic tools that help you identify useful predictors during the exploratory stages of model building for linear regression. These two procedures use different methods and present you with different output. An obvious question arises. Does one procedure pick the true model more often than the other? I’ll tackle that question in this post. Fi... 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
In technical support, we frequently receive calls from Minitab users who have questions about the differences between Cpk and Ppk.  Michelle Paret already wrote a great post about the differences between Cpk and Ppk, but it also helps to have a better understanding of the math behind these numbers. So in this post I will show you how to calculate Ppk using Minitab’s default settings when the... Continue Reading
Hi everyone! Over the past month, I fielded some interesting customer calls regarding control chart creation and editing. I wanted to share these potential scenarios with you in hopes that you will find them informative and useful. For these scenarios, I used the XBar-R chart as my template, but you could easily apply them to many of the other control charts in Minitab.  Scenario 1: Create a... Continue Reading
Everyone who analyzes data regularly has the experience of getting a worksheet that just isn't ready to use. Previously I wrote about tools you can use to clean up and eliminate clutter in your data and reorganize your data.  In this post, I'm going to highlight tools that help you get the most out of messy data by altering its characteristics. Know Your Options Many problems with data don't become... Continue Reading
Control charts are excellent tools for looking at data points that seem unusual and for deciding whether they're worthy of investigation. If you use control charts frequently, then you're used to the idea that if certain subgroups reflect temporary abnormalities, you can leave them out when you calculate your center line and control limits. If you include points that you already know are... Continue Reading
In my last post, I wrote about making a cluttered data set easier to work with by removing unneeded columns entirely, and by displaying just those columns you want to work with now. But too much unneeded data isn't always the problem. What can you do when someone gives you data that isn't organized the way you need it to be?   That happens for a variety of reasons, but most often it's because the... Continue Reading
Isn't it great when you get a set of data and it's perfectly organized and ready for you to analyze? I love it when the people who collect the data take special care to make sure to format it consistently, arrange it correctly, and eliminate the junk, clutter, and useless information I don't need.   You've never received a data set in such perfect condition, you say? Yeah, me neither. But I can... Continue Reading
by Jasmin Wong, guest blogger The combination of statistical methods and injection moulding simulation software gives manufacturers a powerful way to predict moulding defects and to develop a robust moulding process at the part design phase.  CAE (computer-aided engineering) is widely used in the injection moulding industry today to improve product and mould designs as well as to resolve or... 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
We like to host webinars, and our customers and prospects like to attend them. But when our webinar vendor moved from a pay-per-person pricing model to a pay-per-webinar pricing model, we wanted to find out how to maximize registrations and thereby minimize our costs. We collected webinar data on the following variables: Webinar topic Day of week Time of day – 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Newsletter promotion –... Continue Reading
I’ve written about the importance of checking your residual plots when performing linear regression analysis. If you don’t satisfy the assumptions for an analysis, you might not be able to trust the results. One of the assumptions for regression analysis is that the residuals are normally distributed. Typically, you assess this assumption using the normal probability plot of the residuals. Are... Continue Reading
Halloween's right around the corner, so here's a scary thought for the statistically minded: That pattern in your time series plot? Maybe it's just a ghost. It might not really be there at all.   That's right. The trend that seems so evident might be a phantom. Or, if you don't believe in that sort of thing, chalk it up to the brain's desire to impose order on what we see, even when it doesn't... 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
In quality initiatives such as Six Sigma, practitioners often need to assess the capability of a process to make sure it can meet specifications, or to verify that it produces good parts. While many Minitab users are familiar with the capability analysis tools in the Stat menu and in Minitab’s Assistant, the Assistant includes a less-frequently used feature—the Capability Snapshot. What Is the... Continue Reading
I’m always on the lookout for statistical news, so I was excited by the recent Matt Phillips article on Quartz titled Painfully, American families are learning the difference between median and mean. Phillips' allegory about Warren Buffet walking into a skid row bar makes a nice illustration of the statistical question about how outliers affect the mean. (If you want more on the mean and... Continue Reading
Keeping your vehicle fueled up is expensive. Maximizing the miles you get per gallon of fuel saves money and helps the environment, too.  But knowing if you're getting good mileage requires some data analysis, which gives us a good opportunity to apply one of the common tools used in Six Sigma -- the I-MR (individuals and moving range) control chart to daily life.    Finding Trends or Unusual... Continue Reading
Using statistical techniques to optimize manufacturing processes is quite common now, but using the same approach on social topics is still an innovative approach. For example, if our objective is to improve student academic performances, should we increase teachers wages or would it be better to reduce the number of students in a class? Many social topics (the effect of increasing the minimum... Continue Reading
You might not have known, but September is Attendance Awareness Month. Specifically, attendance of children at American public schools. The organization Attendance Works recently came out with a report that highlights the learning gap between students with strong attendance and students with poor attendance. Statistical software helps us quickly and easily create graphs that make it easier to... Continue Reading