Applied Data Analysis For Process Improvement

James L. Lamprecht, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 283 pp., $30.50 member, $38 list (book).

Applied Data Analysis for Process Improvement: A Practical Guide to Six Sigma Black Belt Statistics is a very handy and compact guide covering all the necessary tools for statistical process improvement. Its best features are the examples and explanations that go beyond or behind the examples.

The text starts at a basic, easy to read level for statistical beginners and continues through fairly rigorous statistical methods including response surface analysis and fractional factorial designs. The book is well written, although quite statistical in later chapters. Coverage of each topic is comprehensive, and the number of tables and graphs supplementing the text is prodigious.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t include a CD-ROM of data or statistical programs. On one hand, this is a clear benefit because relying on one specific data format or statistical software package limits the applicability of the statistical examples. On the other hand, the output and software applications in the text are quite limited, which may be a drawback for some readers naive about statistical software.

I applaud Lamprecht on encouraging readers to learn and use the
p-value approach to hypothesis testing, to use statistical software and not rely on z, t or F tables. Many applied statistics books are still tied to the tabular approach to testing. While I understand Lamprecht’s use of accepting the null hypothesis, I encourage him to change this terminology in future editions because it is incorrect and readers need to understand that conclusions are probability statements based on a chosen error level.

Overall, this book is a nice addition to a statistical library and one that can be used often for easy reference as well as understanding the question behind the hypothesis or objective of an experiment. With a slight reservation that naive data analyzers may find some of the later chapters difficult, I highly recommend this book.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt Handbook

Donald W. Benbow and T.M. Kubiak, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 376 pp., $75 member, $95 list (book and CD-ROM).

The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt Handbook is an excellent reference for quality and business professionals looking for a comprehensive guide to this increasingly popular quality credential. The book not only covers the Six Sigma improvement methodology tools but also includes some of the more important statistical tables such as chi square, normal, f-distribution and exponential.

The first three chapters give a brief but adequate description of the history of Six Sigma, the process vs. functional business management approach and project management. The remainder of the book focuses on the Six Sigma process as well as aspects of lean manufacturing and design methods, such as quality function deployment and failure mode effects analysis. Brief examples within each chapter, good endnotes and references offer the reader further resources to explore.

Some of the best features of the book are in the appendixes. They include an outline of ASQ’s Six Sigma Black Belt certification body of knowledge and also a standard certified Six Sigma Black Belt exam to test readers understanding of the material and readiness for the actual certification test. The CD-ROM offers sample exam questions tied to the book chapters’ content.

This book offers a good, all-purpose approach to understanding Six Sigma and would be helpful to seasoned quality and business professional responsible for implementing this methodology. Although some basic understanding of the statistical methods discussed is helpful, this book represents a good starting point for exploring the applicability of Six Sigma in any organization.

Linda Cubalchini-Travis
Simi Valley, CA

Bioterrorism and Food Safety

Barbara A. Rascoe and Gleyn E. Bledsoe, CRC Press, 2005, 432 pp., $129.95 (book).

Bioterrorism and Food Safety is a well-indexed book covering the topic of terrorism and food safety in its many forms. Sabotage, contamination and natural occurrence are all excellently covered with reference to the current state of manufacturing, distribution and use of edibles and packaging. Anyone involved in the food industry supply chain and public safety will benefit from considering the concerns and recommendations for reducing potential hazards. Also, anyone tasked with providing security along the food chain will profit from following the planning suggestions.

The main strength of the book is its depth and breadth of coverage. The recommendations for improved processes and strategies planning and response are well explained and documented. The direct correlation to current regulations and requirements is very thorough.

The main detraction within the book is the pointed message that most current efforts—especially from government—are misdirected and ineffective. This may be true, but the message is perhaps presented a little too forcefully to be viewed as objective.

The book contains appendixes with copies of documents from various sources that provide official guidance for assessment of food safety and security procedures and policies. Some of the policies tend to overlap or seem redundant; however, if you are not directly in the food industry, this is a good place to start to understand some of the issues and requirements of overlapping jurisdiction within the food supply chain.

Determining the best way to prevent or combat bioterrorism and maintain the continual food supply that most of us have come to expect will not become any easier in the future but this book will provide ideas on what can be done and where to concentrate efforts for best effect within your own business practices.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals
Houston, TX

Lean Manufacturing That Works

Bill Carreira, Amacom, 2004, 295 pp., $27.95 (book).

Lean Manufacturing That Works is a book about how to put lean manufacturing principles to work in a typical manufacturing business. It starts out by discussing the concept of lean manufacturing and its role in the business plan. It goes on to illustrate how to implement a lean system using value stream maps to target waste and nonvalue added functions.

The book is divided into two sections; the first contains the “what” chapters, and the second contains the “how” chapters. The “what” chapters discuss and illustrate ideas and logic behind the lean philosophy. Topics such as customer satisfaction, metrics, cash flow, batch, queue vs. lean and identifying nonvalue added activities are highlighted.

In the second section—the “how” portion—Carreira explains how to implement lean in the work area by using value mapping to establish a baseline of process steps and then reducing or eliminating the waste generators and nonvalue added functions.

While there are many books on lean in the market, I enjoyed this one because it doesn’t get too bogged down with details of any one particular process. Carreira keeps it at a level high enough that the reader can understand the principles and grasp how to transfer them to particular situations.

This book would appeal to quality, manufacturing and process engineers or analysts looking to start implementing lean. I do not recommend this book for advanced users or those looking for a more rigorous approach.

Eric Furness
Astronautics Corp. of America
Milwaukee, WI

RSM Simplified

Mark Anderson and Patrick Whitcomb, Productivity Press, 2005, 292 pp., $50 (book and CD-ROM).

A responsive surface method (RSM) is an empirical method used to explore the responses of multivariate control variables through design of experiments. The idea is not very complicated: simply stated, RSM uses experimental data to build an empirical quantitative functional relationship between the predictive variables and their responses. With the understanding of these relationships, parameters can be characterized and optimized.

To help readers understand the subject without being swamped by nitty-gritty statistical rigor, Anderson and Whitcomb adopt a straightforward narrative about building a simple one-variable functional relationship between the departing time from home and the travel time to the office. The first two chapters in RSM Simplified: Optimizing Processes Using Response Surface Methods for Design of Experiments address key issues of model building, or equivalently, a crash course in regression analysis. The statistical terms and concepts are introduced freely and casually, where and when they are needed.

Later chapters in the book discuss using design of experiments to generate RSM and implementing factorial experiments with central points. The book highlights topics such as central composite design and Box-Behnken three level designs. The authors also provide reviews of D-optimal designs and mixture designs. A student version of Design-Expert 7.0 CD-ROM is included and the trial is good for 180 days, which is enough for a semester of learning.

This book is perfect introductory material for quality and Six Sigma professionals who need to learn the tools for identifying critical process parameters and optimizing their processes.

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego, CA


  • The Ice Cream Maker: An In-spiring Tale About Making Quality the Key Ingredient in Everything You Do, Subir Chowd-hury, Currency, 2005, 128 pp., $17.95 (book).
  • Quality and Six Sigma From the Inside Out: Politics, Change, and Leadership in Organizational America, Lisa D. McNary, SPC Press, 2005, 168 pp., $22 (book).
  • There Is Another Way: Launch a Baldrige-Based Quality Classroom,Margaret A. Byrnes with Jeanne C. Baxter, ASQ Quality Press, 2005,
    312 pp., $28 member, $35 list (book and CD-ROM).

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