Palisade Corp., 2003, standard $295, professional $495 (software).
Palisade Corp., developer of the PrecisionTree and @RISK software add-ins to Excel, has augmented them with StatTools, a new statistical add-in that covers basic statistics as well as more sophisticated statistical inference for forecasting, classification, logistic models and quality control charts.
The interface, while much better than Excel, is still not as flexible as standalone statistical software. However, once the data are specified, StatTools provides very flexible commands and a very good menu driven user interface for all statistical procedures. There is also a great deal of flexibility in the ability to bring data into StatTools and the output it provides.
Most important to this add-in is its claim that it does not rely on Excel’s built-in algorithms but uses its own statistical algorithms. Some key statistics are not included or examined in the add-in for regression. The time series analyses and control charts are accurate and complete, and the graphs they provide are useful.
This is a welcome addition to the large number of Excel add-ins currently on the market. It produces accurate results and gives well-designed output. It is limited in its flexibility of options for advanced techniques and would not be a good comprehensive software solution for a statistical researcher. However, the software does allow scientists and managers to do quick, reliable analyses with their data without requiring sophisticated software knowledge.
I. Elaine Allen
ISO 9004 Assessment Criteria
J.P. Russell, ASQ Quality Press, 2004, $20 member, $25 list (CD-ROM).
ISO 9004 Assessment Criteria Checklist for Performance Improve-ment is a CD-ROM offered as a companion piece to J.P. Russell’s book, Continual Improvement Assessment Guide: Promoting and Sustaining Business Results. However, the CD-ROM also stands on its own. The initial three chapters place ISO 9004:2000 into context, recommend how the standard may be used to improve performance and provide some basic auditing procedural suggestions. The remainder is a generic planning template and a restatement of contents of ISO 9004:2000 in auditors’ record format with space for responses on an evaluation form.
I found several annoyances with the software. First, unless you possess separate Adobe software, any entries to the checklist will be lost when the form is closed. This requirement is mentioned inside the CD-ROM jacket. You will, therefore, start with a blank page whenever the file is opened. Hard copy printing is only in landscape format, which, while handy for keeping written notes, is difficult to read or store in a binder. The entire checklist is more than 90 pages. Links exist only at the beginning of chapters or topics. There is no separate index.
This software is exactly what its title indicates, a checklist. There is very little presented that an auditor with general experience couldn’t develop on his or her own. Russell has just saved the user some time. Anyone who needs to design a thorough assessment tool or without the time to review ISO 9004:2000 will find this useful in varying degrees, and it is less expensive than purchasing the standard itself.
Marc A. Feldman
Henry Ford, Today and Tomorrow
Productivity Press, 2003, 260 pp., $30 (book).
This updated printing of Ford’s book, originally published in 1926, is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ford Motor Co. It includes a number of photos illustrating the process and facilities of Ford Motor Co.
Henry Ford was a pioneer and a visionary man. He used low cost, high quality production to win market share. He talked about zero defect production and eliminating the need for quality checks at the end of the production process. He believed strongly in allowing the workers to benefit from what they were actually producing. Furthermore, he reduced the price of a car by half and doubled worker wages. Ford believed workers under his manufacturing system would improve productivity beyond all past expectations and thereby lower costs to consumers. His dream was to build and sell affordable vehicles that would change society and the average man’s life for the better.
It is extremely interesting to read Henry Ford’s original work. Ford discusses topics that are just as relevant today as they were in the 1920s. Thanks to Productivity Press for republishing this historical book.
System Reliability Theory
2nd edition, Marvin Rausand and Arnljot Høyland, Wiley Interscience, 2003, 664 pp., $99.95 (book).
There are two aspects of reliability theory, one focusing on how to build a reliable system and the other on how to evaluate, measure and predict the reliability of the system. The second edition of System Reliability Theory deals with the latter topics. However, building a reliable system requires understanding the subjects addressed in this book as a prerequisite. This book covers topics beyond the basics and leads the reader into more advanced topics of reliability in dependent failures, Markov processes and repairable systems.
The text provides a comprehensive review of failure models and qualitative system analysis, which also includes basic and useful failure distributions, plus failure tree analysis, as a special case of event tree analysis. System reliability can be built up as a function of components or subsystem reliability. The logical representation of the system can be used to estimate the system reliability.
I would recommend supplementing this book with a survey of current available reliability software and more real-world case studies. This book can be used as a reference or an advanced reliability textbook. It is perfect for engineers in design, process and quality to help build a more robust product or process.
Shin Ta Liu
Practical Lean Accounting
Brian Maskell and Bruce Baggaley, Productivity Press, 2004, 380 pp., $49.95 (book and CD-ROM).
One of the roadblocks organizations face as they attempt the transition to lean manufacturing is an accounting system designed for mass production. Traditional accounting systems encourage large batches and building inventory, practices that are discouraged in lean manufacturing. Practical Lean Accounting: A Proven System for Measuring and Managing the Lean Enterprise is intended to help organizations make appropriate decisions based on accurate financial data.
Maskell and Baggaley’s position is that conventional accounting practices are not only wrong for the lean enterprise but also are wasteful themselves. That is, resources are consumed, and little or no value is delivered. I found the book’s maturity path levels ap-proach to transitioning to lean accounting easy to understand and explain to others. This approach mirrors the typical lean implementation that most companies follow, creating cells, value stream management and managing the lean enterprise.
Practical Lean Accounting includes a CD-ROM with Excel templates for implementing a lean accounting system. The CD-ROM also includes sample data for learning how to use the templates. The templates and sample data are easy to understand and use.
This book is intended for finance managers in companies seeking to transition to a lean enterprise. It will also be useful to the lean champion who has to deal with a skeptical finance department. The book is not intended for a lean beginner. It assumes a basic understanding of lean principles and concepts.
Systems Quality Consulting
Alta Loma, CA
The GD&T Trainer
Professional Edition Software, Effective Training Inc., 2004, single-user $895, multi-user $2,495 (CD-ROM with pocket guide).
After starting a new job recently, I needed to quickly learn geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T). I picked up a study guide from an in-house GD&T course that had been delivered recently by a local university; however, I found I had more questions than answers. On the other hand, after reviewing the GD&T Trainer Software and the accompanying pocket guide, I am now very comfortable addressing the various challenges posed by customers’ specifications.
The program is easy to load and run, with a brief tutorial on how to navigate the material. The material may be presented as a full-length course or may be sampled as mini seminars for individual topics. The 28 topics include the standard GD&T terms and, according to the program’s estimation, can be completed in approximately 16 to 20 hours, including tests. There are in-motion illustrations, comments from the author and a narrator encouraging you as you progress through the material.
There are quizzes employing a variety of question types embedded in the material and a final exam used to certify trainees. The pocket guide is clear, concise, easy to read and does a good job of supplementing the software and serving as a reminder when a computer is not available.
The software may be configured for multi-user applications, and a student progress tracking feature lists topics covered by each student, when they were reviewed, if a test was taken and scores for each test. It would make it very easy for HR to work with department managers to qualify employees in interpreting GD&T.
A.T. Wall Company
Juran Institute’s Six Sigma Breakthrough and Beyond
Joseph A. DeFeo and William W. Barnard, McGraw Hill, 2004, 374 pp., $39.95 (book).
Joseph DeFeo and William Barnard’s book presents 11 questions in the preface along with a disclaimer that they “don’t want to waste your time on this book if it is not right for you.” Most likely, if you answer the questions, you will respond “yes” to at least one, and the authors use this to indicate your need for the book. If you are a manager, you might find the contents useful. If you have a technical focus and a requirement for an application based text, regardless of how you answer the questions, this book is not right for you.
The main strength of this book is its treatment of the planning, control and breakthrough components of the Juran trilogy. However, the title does not convey the decidedly managerial slant in its presentation. Based on the title, I expected in-depth discussion of the breakthrough methods with examples showing how to apply them to real-life situations. Instead, each chapter left me frustrated, with only a broad overview of the topic and little to no application based information.
Perhaps Juran Institute is synonymous with management, but it would have been helpful to have the managerial focus more explicitly stated in the title.
Kunita R. Gear
Quality Across the Curriculum, Jay Marino and Ann Haggerty Raines, eds., ASQ Quality Press, 2004, 400 pp., $23 member, $28 list (book).
Glossary and Tables for Stat-istical Quality Control, fourth edition, ASQ Statistics Division, ASQ Quality Press, 2004, 200 pp., $30.50 member, $38 list (book).
An Introduction to Radio Frequency Engineering, Christopher Coleman, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 310 pp., $70 (book).
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