Project Tools

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

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
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
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
I caught the end of Toy Story over the weekend, which is definitely one of my all-time favorite children’s movies. Now—unfortunately or fortunately—I can’t get Randy Newman's theme song,“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” out of my head! It's also got me thinking about the nature of friendship, and how "best friends forever" are supposed to always be there when you need them. And, not to get too maudlin... Continue Reading
Choosing the right type of subgroup in a control chart is crucial. In a rational subgroup, the variability within a subgroup should encompass common causes, random, short-term variability and represent “normal,” “typical,” natural process variations, whereas differences between subgroups are useful to detect drifts in variability over time (due to “special” or “assignable” causes). Variation within... Continue Reading
Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for any kid, so much so that we even use the expression "taking the training wheels off" for all kinds of situations. We say it to mean that we are going to let someone perform an activity on their own after removing some safeguard, even though we know they will likely experience failures before becoming proficient at it. You see, riding a bike requires... Continue Reading
NOTE: This story will reveal how easy it can be to optimize settings using the statistical method called Design of Experiments, but it won't provide easy answers for making your own office coffee any better. After her team’s ultimatum about the wretched office coffee, Jill used the design-of-experiments (DOE) tool in Minitab 17’s Assistant to design and analyze a screening study. Jill now knew... Continue Reading
In his post yesterday, my colleague Jim Colton applied binary logistic regression to data on the current ebola virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and revealed that, horrific as it is, this outbreak actually appears to have a lower death rate than some earlier ones.  He didn't address the potential for a global ebola pandemic, but over the last few days more than enough leading... Continue Reading
Last time, we went over Bar Charts you could create from Counts of Unique Values. However, sometimes you want to convey more information than just simple counts. For example, you could have a number of parts from different models. The number of occurrences themselves don't offer much value, so you may want a chart displaying the means, sums, or even standard deviations of the different parts.... 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
There’s a lot going on in the world, so you might not have noticed that the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) released their new set of health statistics for member nations. On the OECD website, you can now download the free data series for 2014. (Be aware that “for 2014” means that the organization has a pretty good idea about what happened in 2012.) Of course, there’s nothing more fun... Continue Reading
Whether you’re just learning statistics or you're already using data analysis on the job, there are not many tools more straightforward than a bar chart. Bar charts are effective at getting across their message, and are used in a diverse number of fields, from service quality to pharmaceuticals to manufacturing. However, I’ve noticed recently that a lot of customers looking to create a bar chart... 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
We received the following question via social media recently: I am using Minitab 17 for ANOVA. I calculated the mean and standard deviation for these 15 values, but the standard deviation is very high. If I delete some values, I can reduce the standard deviation. Is there an option in Minitab that will automatically indicate values that are out of range and delete them so that the standard... 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