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Quality Companion

Blog posts and articles about the use of Quality Companion process improvement software from Minitab.

In my last post on DMAIC tools for the Define phase, we reviewed various graphs and stats typically used to define project goals and customer deliverables. Let’s now move along to the tools you can use in Minitab Statistical Software to conduct the Measure phase. Measure Phase Methodology The goal of this phase is to measure the process to determine its current performance and quantify the problem.... Continue Reading
Ahoy, matey! Ye’ve come to the right place to learn about Value Stream Maps (VSM).  Just as a treasure map can lead a band o’ pirates to buried treasures, so too can the VSM lead a process improvement bilge rat to the loot buried deep inside a process! Minitab’s Quality Companion has an easy-to-use VSM tool to guide yer way. Use a value stream map to illustrate the flow of materials... Continue Reading

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If you’re familiar with Lean Six Sigma, then you’re familiar with DMAIC. DMAIC is the acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. This proven problem-solving strategy provides a structured 5-phase framework to follow when working on an improvement project. This is the first post in a five-part series that focuses on the tools available in Minitab Statistical Software that are most... Continue Reading
While many Six Sigma practitioners and other quality improvement professionals like to use the Fishbone diagram in Quality Companion for brainstorming because of its ease of use and integration with other Quality Companion tools, some Minitab users find an infrequent need for a Fishbone diagram. For the more casual user of the Fishbone diagram, Minitab has the right tool to get the job done. Minitab... Continue Reading
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
The 2016 presidential race is becoming more real. We’ve had several announcements with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Marco Rubio officially entering the race to be President. While the prospective Democratic candidates are down to one, or at most a few, the Republican field is extra-large this election cycle. The first order of business for a GOP candidate is to survive the nomination... 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
If you’ve been looking at Minitab 17, you’ve noticed a lot of new enhancements. For me, the biggest of these is the addition of Design of Experiments (DOE) to the Assistant. DOE in the Assistant has so many exciting aspects it’s hard to take it all in at once, but here are 5 highlights for when you plan and create a screening experiment: 1. Just-in-time guidance If you’re lucky, you’ve had the... Continue Reading
I didn’t expect that our family trip to Florida would end with me driving a plane load of passengers nearly 200 miles to their homes, but it did. Yes, it was a long and strange journey home. A journey that started in the tropical warmth of southern Florida and ended the next morning in central Pennsylvania, which felt like the arctic wastelands thanks to the dreaded polar vortex. During this... Continue Reading
Using data analysis and statistics to improve business quality has a long history. But it often seems like most of that history involves huge operations. After all, Six Sigma originated with Motorola, and became adopted by thousands of other businesses after it was adopted by a little-known outfit called General Electric. There are many case studies and examples of how big companies used Six Sigma... Continue Reading
I had the opportunity to speak with a great group of students from the New Jersey Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology—a summer program for high-achieving high school students. Students in the program complete a set of challenging courses while working in small groups on real-world research and design projects that relate to the field of engineering. Governor’s School students... 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
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
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
To promote ethical and moral responsibility in shaping its graduates, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology created a sustainability initiative to reduce its own environmental footprint. As part of that team's efforts, Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman conducted a project to reduce food waste at the campus dining center. We got the opportunity to learn more about the project by talking with Dr. Diane... Continue Reading
We all seem to have our favorite statistical or quality improvement tool. Jim Frost wrote a tribute to regression analysis. Dawn Keller seems to enjoy control charts. Eston Martz discusses reliability analysis and the Weibull distribution pretty regularly. So, I started thinking … what’s my favorite quality tool? I’ve always been drawn to process mapping, or what's sometimes referred to as ‘flow... 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 Quality Companion, but of course you can use other methods, or even pen and paper. 1.... Continue Reading
The DMAIC methodology for completing quality improvement projects divides project work into five phases: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. It’s also probably the most well-known and most used project methodology for projects that focus on improving an existing process. (Many other methodologies exist, such as DMADV, which focuses on using quality improvement techniques to create a... Continue Reading