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Quality Process Improvement

Blog posts and articles about data analysis and statistics for improving process quality in manufacturing and service.

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
Via Christi Health, the largest provider of healthcare in Kansas, operates a Center for Clinical Excellence that's made up of a team of quality practitioners, all who have Lean and Six Sigma training. I recently had the opportunity to talk with the team about the types of projects they're working on. I learned not only about the areas of patient care where they are targeting improvements, but about... Continue Reading
There is more than just the p value in a probability plot—the overall graphical pattern also provides a great deal of useful information. Probability plots are a powerful tool to better understand your data. In this post, I intend to present the main principles of probability plots and focus on their visual interpretation using some real data. In probability plots, the data density distribution... Continue Reading
It's all too easy to make mistakes involving statistics. Powerful statistical software can remove a lot of the difficulty surrounding statistical calculation, reducing the risk of mathematical errors—but  correctly interpreting the results of an analysis can be even more challenging.  No one knows that better than Minitab's technical trainers. All of our trainers are seasoned statisticians with... 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
It’s common to think that process improvement initiatives are meant to cater only to manufacturing processes, simply because manufacturing is where Lean and Six Sigma began. However, many other industries, in particular financial services and banking, also rely on data analysis and Lean Six Sigma tools to improve processes. Rod Toro is a business process improvement manager at Edward Jones, and I... Continue Reading
The 2014 ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement is coming up in early May in Dallas, and this year’s International Team Excellence Award Process (ITEA) will also come to a close at the conference, as winners from the finalist teams will be chosen for ASQ gold, silver, or bronze-level statuses. What’s ITEA? The annual ASQ ITEA process celebrates the accomplishments of quality improvement... Continue Reading
With more options, come more decisions. With equivalence testing added to Minitab 17, you now have more statistical tools to test a sample mean against target value or another sample mean. Equivalence testing is extensively used in the biomedical field. Pharmaceutical manufacturers often need to test whether the biological activity of a generic drug is equivalent to that of a brand name drug that... Continue Reading
by Laerte de Araujo Lima, guest blogger In a previous post (How Data Analysis Can Help Us Predict This Year's Champions League), I shared how I used Minitab Statistical Softwareto predict the 2013-2014 season of the UEFA Champions league. This involved the regression analysis of main critical-to-quality (CTQ) factors, which I identified using the “voice of the customer” suggestions of some... Continue Reading
The other day I was talking with a friend about control charts, and I wanted to share an example one of my colleagues wrote on the Minitab Blog.  Looking back through the index for "control charts" reminded me just how much material we've published on this topic. Whether you're just getting started with control charts, or you're an old hand at statistical process control, you'll find some valuable... Continue Reading
Ughhh... your process is producing some parts that don't meet your customer's specifications! Fortunately, after a little hard work, you find a way to improve the process. However, you want to perform the appropriate statistical analysis to back up your findings and make it easier to explain the process improvements to your boss. And it's important to remember that your boss is much like the boss... Continue Reading
Many Six Sigma and quality improvement tools could be applied in other areas. For example, I wonder whether my son's teachers could benefit from a little attribute agreement analysis.  He seemed frustrated the other day when I picked him up at school. He'd been working on a presentation that needed to be approved by his teachers. (My son attends a charter school, and each class is taught by a... Continue Reading
When we think about jobs with a romantic edge to them, most of us probably think of professions that involve action or danger.  Spies, soldiers, cops, criminals -- these are types of professions romantic leads have. Along with your occasional musician, reporter, or artist, who don't have the action but at least bring drama. But you know who never shows up as a romantic lead?  Quality improvement... Continue Reading
"You take 10 parts and have 3 operators measure each 2 times." This standard approach to a Gage R&R experiment is so common, so accepted, so ubiquitous that few people ever question whether it is effective.  Obviously one could look at whether 3 is an adequate number of operators or 2 an adequate number of replicates, but in this first of a series of posts about "Gauging Gage," I want to look at... 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
When looking at a control chart, it’s important to know that the data we are looking at is accurate. Let’s face it, if the control limits we are looking at don’t really reflect what’s actually happening in our process, what does it matter if our points fall within the limits, or a little bit outside? Let’s take a trip down to the widget factory, where widgets are being produced in all shapes and... Continue Reading
In my previous post, I shared a case study of how a small bicycle-chain manufacturing company in India used the DMAIC approach to Six Sigma to reverse declining productivity. After completing the Define, Measure, and Analysis phases, the team had identified the important factors in the bushing creation process. Armed with this knowledge, they were now ready to make some improvements. The Improve... 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