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Eston Martz

I’m not a “math” person, but I've overcome fear of statistics and acquired a real passion for it. And if I can learn to understand and apply statistics, so can you. Continue Reading »

People who are ill frequently need medication. But if they miss a dose, or receive the wrong medication—or even get the wrong dose of the right medication—the results can be disastrous.  So medical professionals have a lot at stake in making sure patients get the right medicine, in the right amount, at the right time. But hospitals and other medical facilities are complex systems, and mistakes do... 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

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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
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
Statisticians say the darndest things. At least, that's how it can seem if you're not well-versed in statistics.  When I began studying statistics, I approached it as a language. I quickly noticed that compared to other disciplines, statistics has some unique problems with terminology, problems that don't affect most scientific and academic specialties.  For example, dairy science has a highly... Continue Reading
If you've read the first two parts of this tale, you know it started when I published a post that involved transforming data for capability analysis. When an astute reader asked why Minitab didn't seem to transform the data outside of the capability analysis, it revealed an oversight that invalidated the original analysis.  I removed the errant post. But to my surprise, the reader who helped me... Continue Reading
Last time, I told you how I had double-checked the analysis in a post that involved running the Johnson transformation on a set of data before doing normal capability analysis on it. A reader asked why the transformation didn't work on the data when you applied it outside of the capability analysis.  I hadn't tried transforming the data that way, but if the transformation worked when performed as... Continue Reading
I don't like the taste of crow. That's a shame, because I'm about to eat a huge helping of it.  I'm going to tell you how I messed up an analysis. But in the process, I learned some new lessons and was reminded of some older ones I should remember to apply more carefully.  This Failure Starts in a Victory My mistake originated in the 2015 Triple Crown victory of American Pharoah. I'm no... 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
All processes have some variation. Some variation is natural and nothing to be concerned about. But in other cases, there is unusual variation that may need attention.  By graphing process data against an upper and a lower control limit, control charts help us distinguish natural variation from special cause variation that we need to be concerned about. If a data point falls outside the limits on... Continue Reading
This week I'm at the American Society for Quality's World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Nashville, TN. The ASQ conference is a great opportunity to see how quality professionals are tackling problems in every industry, from beverage distribution to banking services.  Given my statistical bent, I like to see how companies apply tools like ANOVA, regression, and especially... Continue Reading
A while back, I offered an overview of process capability analysis that emphasized the importance of matching your analysis to the distribution of your data. If you're already familiar with different types of distributions, Minitab makes it easy to identify what type of data you're working with, or to transform your data to approximate the normal distribution. But what if you're not so great with... Continue Reading
In my previous post, I showed you how to set up data collection for a gage R&R analysis using the Assistant in Minitab Statistical Software. In this case, the goal of the gage R&R study is to test whether a new tool provides an effective metric for assessing resident supervision in a medical facility.   As noted in that post, I'm drawing on one of my favorite bloggers about health care... Continue Reading
One of my favorite bloggers about the application of statistics in health care is David Kashmer, an MD and MBA who runs and writes for the Business Model Innovation in Surgery blog. If you have an interest in how quality improvement methods like Lean and Six Sigma can be applied to healthcare, check it out.  A while back, Dr. Kashmer penned a column called "How to Measure a Process When There's... 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
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
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’s Assistant to design and analyze a screening study. Jill now knew that... Continue Reading
NOTE: This story reveals how easy it can be to identify important factors using the statistical method called Design of Experiments. It won't provide easy answers for making your own office's coffee any better, but it will show you how you can begin identifying the critical factors that contribute to its quality. At their weekly meeting, her team gave Jill an ultimatum: Make the coffee better. The... Continue Reading
We received the following question via social media recently: I am using Minitab 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 deviation... Continue Reading
In an earlier post, I shared some great hidden helpers in Minitab Statistical Software that even many veteran users don't know about. Here are a few more! Everything In Its Right Place Minitab’s Project Manager allows you to navigate, view, and manipulate various parts of your project. Right-clicking either the folders or their contents lets you access a variety of menus that allow you to manage... Continue Reading