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Quality Process Improvement

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

Unless you live under a black country rock, you’ve no doubt heard that the world recently lost one of the greatest artists of our time, David Bowie. My memories of the Thin White Duke go all the way back to my formative years. I recall his music echoing through the halls of our house as I crooned along whilst doing the chores. Then as now, Bowie’s creativity and energy inspired me and helped me do... Continue Reading
If you're just getting started in the world of quality improvement, or if you find yourself in a position where you suddenly need to evaluate the quality of incoming or outgoing products from your company, you may have encountered the term "acceptance sampling." It's a statistical method for evaluating the quality of a large batch of materials from a small sample of items, which statistical softwar... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

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This is an era of massive data. A huge amount of data is being generated from the web, from customer relations records but also from sensors used in the manufacturing industry (semiconductor, pharmaceutical, petrochemical companies and many other industries). Univariate Control charts In the manufacturing industry, critical product characteristics get routinely collected to ensure that all products... Continue Reading
‘Statistics’ is a rising star. Everywhere I turn, people are talking about data and the value of being able to analyze and act on it. As someone who’s been writing about that for years, I say it’s about time. Statistics is like a talented actress whose decades of appearing off Broadway have finally paid off. For years, her work has been enriching our lives without us knowing it. Statistics helps... Continue Reading
Having delivered training courses on capability analyses with Minitab, several times, I have noticed that one question you can be absolutely sure will be asked, during the course, is: What is the difference between the Cpk and the Ppk indices? Ppk vs. Cpk indices The terms Cpk and Ppk are often confused, so that when quality or process engineers refer to the Cpk index, they often actually intend to... Continue Reading
By Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger A problem must be understood before it can be properly addressed. A thorough understanding of the problem is critical when performing a root cause analysis (RCA) and an RCA is necessary if an organization wants to implement corrective actions that truly address the root cause of the problem. An RCA may also be necessary for process improvement projects; it is... Continue Reading
Did you know that November is World Quality Month? The American Society for Quality is once again heading up this year’s festivities. Throughout the month of November, ASQ will be promoting the use of quality tools in businesses, communities, and institutions all over the world. You can check it out at http://asq.org/world-quality-month/. Here at Minitab, we’re also pretty excited about World... Continue Reading
In Part 5 of our series, we began the analysis of the experiment data by reviewing analysis of covariance and blocking variables, two key concepts in the design and interpretation of your results. The 250-yard marker at the Tussey Mountain Driving Range, one of the locations where we conducted our golf experiment. Some of the golfers drove their balls well beyond this 250-yard maker during a few of... Continue Reading
By Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger Teaching process performance and capability studies is easier when actual process data is available for the student or trainee to practice with. As I have previously discussed at the Minitab Blog, a catapult can be used to generate data for a capability study. My last blog on using a catapult for this purspose was several years ago, so I would like to revisit... Continue Reading
This week is National Healthcare Quality Week, started by the National Association for Healthcare Quality to increase awareness of healthcare quality programs and to highlight the work of healthcare quality professionals and their influence on improved patient care outcomes. In honor of the celebration, I wanted to point you to a few case studies featuring Minitab customers in the healthcare field... Continue Reading
In Part 3 of our series, we decided to test our 4 experimental factors, Club Face Tilt, Ball Characteristics, Club Shaft Flexibility, and Tee Height in a full factorial design because of the many advantages of that data collection plan. In Part 4 we concluded that each golfer should replicate their half fraction of the full factorial 5 times in order to have a high enough power to detect... Continue Reading
I read trade publications that cover everything from banking to biotech, looking for interesting perspectives on data analysis and statistics, especially where it pertains to quality improvement. Recently I read a great blog post from Tony Taylor, an analytical chemist with a background in pharmaceuticals. In it, he discusses the implications of the FDA's updated guidance for industry analytical... Continue Reading
Whatever industry you're in, you're going to need to buy supplies. If you're a printer, you'll need to purchase inks, various types of printing equipment, and paper. If you're in manufacturing, you'll need to obtain parts that you don't make yourself.  But how do you know you're making the right choice when you have multiple suppliers vying to fulfill your orders?  How can you be sure you're... Continue Reading
In 2007, the Crayola crayon company encountered a problem. Labels were coming off of their crayons. Up to that point, Crayola had done little to implement data-driven methodology into the process of manufacturing their crayons. But that was about to change. An elementary data analysis showed that the adhesive didn’t consistently set properly when the labels were dry. Misting crayons as they went... Continue Reading
Rare events inherently occur in all kinds of processes. In hospitals, there are medication errors, infections, patient falls, ventilator-associated pneumonias, and other rare, adverse events that cause prolonged hospital stays and increase healthcare costs.  But rare events happen in many other contexts, too. Software developers may need to track errors in lines of programming code, or a quality... Continue Reading
When we take pictures with a digital camera or smartphone, what the device really does is capture information in the form of binary code. At the most basic level, our precious photos are really just a bunch of 1s and 0s, but if we were to look at them that way, they'd be pretty unexciting. In its raw state, all that information the camera records is worthless. The 1s and 0s need to be converted... 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 line plot is an incredibly agile but frequently overlooked tool in the quest to better understand your processes. In any process, whether it's baking a cake or processing loan forms, many factors have the potential to affect the outcome. Changing the source of raw materials could affect the strength of plywood a factory produces. Similarly, one method of gluing this plywood might be better... Continue Reading
Scientists who use the Hubble Space Telescope to explore the galaxy receive a stream of digitized images in the form binary code. In this state, the information is essentially worthless- these 1s and 0s must first be converted into pictures before the scientists can learn anything from them. The same is true of statistical distributions and parameters that are used to describe sample data. They... Continue Reading
  The NFL recently announced that after scoring a touchdown, teams will be required to kick the extra point from the 15 yard line as opposed to the 2 yard line. This is a pretty big change. And whether you’re trying to improve the quality of your process, or simply trying to make a sporting event more exciting, it’s always good to know what kind of effects your change will have. So I’m going to use... Continue Reading