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Statistics Roundtable: What's Meant by 'Capability'?

by Hare, Lynne B.

Time and again, you hear the question: “Is this process capable?” “Of what?” I want to ask. It hasn’t learned any new moves since the Macarena, so I’m not sure. Very funny. But we really need to know whether it can produce product within specification....


Statistics Roundtable: Don’t Be Discrete

by Seaman, Julia E.; Allen, I. Elaine

When planning an analysis, the type and quality of data will have the biggest impact on the robustness and validity of the results....


Necessary Measures

by Johnson, Louis; Deaner, Maureen;

Learn the difference between standard and expanded gage repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) studies and how expanded gage R&R helps clarify measurement system variation....


Open Access

One Good Idea: Mix It Up

by Barsalou, Matthew

Combine exploratory data analysis and strong inference to generate and verify hypotheses....


3.4 per Million: Knowing the Drill

by Conklin, Joseph D.

In the quest to solve quality problems, drilling down into data is a time-honored strategy that serves Six Sigma practitioners well....


Open Access

Breaking Down Barriers

by Liu, Shu

To leverage the benefits and prepare for the challenges big data present, quality professionals must change their mindset, get more data, upgrade their skills and expand their roles in the big data universe....


Follow the Fundamentals

by Snee, Ronald D. ; DeVeaux, Richard D.; Hoerl, Roger W.

New technology for acquiring, storing and processing data is being introduced at an ever-increasing pace. In 2012, the White House launched a national “Big Data Initiative.” According to IBM, 1.6 zettabytes of digital data are now available....


Statistics Roundtable: Providing Better Insights

by Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J.; and Meeker, William Q.

In an earlier Statistics Roundtable column, we advocated for the use of degradation testing (that is, monitoring change in a quality or performance characteristic) instead of time to failure....


Get There Faster

by Andell, Jonathon L.

While traditional value stream maps, 5S workplace organization and spaghetti diagrams are crucial tools for the lean practitioner, they do not lend themselves readily to quantifying waste associated with transporting things throughout a facility....


Statistics Roundtable: Wanderlust and Memory

by Hare, Lynne B.

Pop quiz. Question one: How do you derive Shewhart (X-bar and R, or X-bar and S) control chart limits?...


Open Access

Balancing Act

by Montgomery, Eda Ross; Neway, Justin

With common quality methods and standards in place, manufacturing organizations share a daunting challenge: an increased volume of electronic and paper-based data collected during process development and manufacturing....


Open Access

Paving the Way

by Anderson-Cook, Christine M.; Borror, Connie M.

Data and information are at the heart of good investigations and decision making, but are all kinds of data the same? What are the major categories and types of questions to ask to collect and analyze data?...


Open Access

The Right Blend

by Vanicek, Vera

Faced with cost reductions and scheduling changes, a chemotherapy mixing room (CMR) implemented the define, measure, analyze, improve and control method and lean tools to optimize operations....


In the Crosshairs

by Lindquist, Russell

In 2005, Fairbanks Morse Engine discovered that work content analysis can help clearly define product families and can align improvement activities in a leveraged execution....


Statistics Roundtable: Improve Your Evaluations

by Meeker, William Q.; Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J.

In an earlier Statistics Roundtable column, we described how the conclusions you can draw from statistical analysis of limited life data can be bolstered by appropriately incorporating engineering knowledge and experience into the analysis....


Healthy Returns

by Kennedy, Denise; Caselli, Richard J.; Berry, Leonard L.

The future of any enterprise depends on the quality of its customer service. All organizations—even those manufacturing products—are service organizations because all create value for customers by performing services....


Innovation Imperative: A Question of Balance

by Merrill, Peter

Many people say that mentioning standards and innovation in the same breath is a contradiction in terms. Evidence from the real world says otherwise....


In the Spotlight

by Keathley, Jane

Based on what we know about the skills needed for innovation management, what quality management functions, responsibilities and skills can be applied to manage innovation?...


Open Access

Up and Away

by Owens, Tracy; Fritz, Caroline

Do you want to quickly test your creativity? Take a sheet of paper and draw a big circle on it. Draw a dot on the paper. This exercise is part of a test given to children entering kindergarten to find out their baseline levels of creativity....


Open Access

Fair or Foul?

by Allen, I. Elaine; Seaman, Julia E.

After Moneyball was published nine years ago, Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane was hailed as a genius for adopting analytics in baseball. His goal was to create a small-budget MLB team that could compete with big-spending teams in the American League....


Open Access

Beyond the Basics

by Duffy, Grace; Laman, Scott A.; Mehta, Pradip; Ramu, Govind; Scriabina, Natalia; Wagoner, Keith

A movie sequel often can be as, if not more, captivating than the original. Essentially, a sequel builds on the original, continuing a journey with familiar characters and settings, developing ideas and unveiling more insight....


Taking the Wheel

by Goodman, John

Customer experience has become the mantra of senior management looking to enhance revenue and margins. In fact, more companies are trying to differentiate themselves not only on product quality but also on total customer experience....


Quality Curriculum

by Taylor, James B.; Sinn, John W.; Lightfoot, William S.

Does quality exist as an entity independent of business? Are the business of quality and the quality of business simply two sides of the same coin? No matter—the quality discipline has become inextricably woven into business....


Statistics Roundtable: Use What You Know

by Meeker, William Q.; Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J.

Engineers and managers often must make important decisions in situations in which there is substantial uncertainty because of limited data. In some such cases, the data analyses can be bolstered by incorporating engineering knowledge and experience....


Statistics Roundtable: Under the Limit

by Mason, Robert L.; Keating, Jerome P.

Engineers often encounter a wide spectrum of issues pertaining to the data they collect from experiments. A particular problem of concern arises when the quantity to be measured falls below the detection limit of the measuring apparatus....


Open Access

Certification at Work

by Roberson, Russell L.; McKaig, Brian

Organizations face difficult decisions every day: where to invest, how to focus employees and how to drive a competitive advantage in their markets. A decision to launch employee training cannot be taken lightly....


Statistics Roundtable: Why Statisticians Model Data

by Hare, Lynne B.

What follows is an apology. Not an apology as in “I’m sorry,” but an apology as a justification or explanation. You might be thinking it shouldn’t be necessary to explain why statisticians model data. It is just their nature....


Online Sidebar Statistics Roundtable

by Meeker, William Q., Doganaksoy, Necip, and Hahn, Gerald J.

In making such calculations for times beyond the next 24 months, the in-service months that exceed a total exposure over 36 months (adding the months to date to the number of future months) are excluded. Moreover, the estimated expected number of failures...


Statistics Roundtable: Predicting Problems

by Meeker, William Q., Doganaksoy, Necip, and Hahn, Gerald J.

Manufacturers must frequently predict the number of future field failures for a product using past field-failure data, especially when an unanticipated failure mode is discovered in the field....


Open Access

Jersey Score

by Krzykowski, Brett

For most, it takes years to reach a point at which an organization can expect to be seriously considered for the Baldrige award. But that didn’t deter New Jersey-based healthcare provider AtlantiCare, one of five award recipients for 2009....


Open Access

Taking the Reins

by Kelley, Lynn

To stay in front of the competition, successful organizations know they can never stand still. There are always ways to innovate and improve the way they do business....


Expert Answers: August 2010

by QP Staff

Interval approach to random samples......


Open Access

Back to Basics: Change Essentials

by Ford, Jack

Since BloodCenter of Wisconsin began its lean journey four years ago, I have had the chance to do some thinking on what is necessary for any change initiative to be successful. What follows is a short list of what I consider to be the essentials for...


Discussion Warranted

by Kleyner, Andre

Warranties are important attributes of most business transactions. Their comprehensive impact on a company’s bottom line, however, is not always clearly understood—even by the people who deal with product quality and reliability on an everyday basis....


Statistics Roundtable: Detection Decisions

by Mason, Robert L.; Young, John C.

A potential outlier is an observation located a considerable distance from the main data swarm. The inclusion of such outlying observations in a data analysis can produce erroneous estimates of means, variances and the correlations between variables....


Brewed Awakening

by Gojanovic, Tony; Jimenez, Ernie

Manufacturers often rely on an established network of distributors to move finished goods to retailers and consumers. A typical U.S. beer maker may depend on a network of 500 distributors to deliver its beverages to more than 700,000 retail accounts....


Statistics Roundtable: Outlier Options

by Seaman, Julia E.; Allen, I. Elaine

Even in basic statistics courses, we teach that outliers in a data set can pose big problems. We often teach that visually examining data can help identify outliers. Beyond detection, few textbooks devote much time to statistically assessing outliers....


In It for the Long Haul

by Edmund, Mark

When organizations experience rapid growth, the most important part of the business—the customer—can sometimes get lost in the shuffle....


3.4 per Million: Insight or Folly?

by Breyfogle, Forrest W.

In lean Six Sigma, much training effort is spent on conveying the importance of having a measurement system so that consistent and correct decisions are made relative to assessing part quality and process attributes....


Statistics Roundtable: Divide and Conquer in Reliability Analyses

by Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J.; and Meeker, William Q.

All product is not created equal. Some units are more likely to fail in service than others. Thus, in reliability evaluations, you need to identify subpopulations with different failure susceptibility....


Open Access

Tune Up

by Allen, I. Elaine; Davenport, Thomas H.

Six Sigma has many meanings. In its simplest context, Six Sigma can be defined statistically as the attempt to achieve near-perfection by having no more than 3.4 errors per million opportunities, or being 99.997% correct (or defect-free)....


Expert Answers: August 2009

by QP Staff

Deciding on a survey strategy ... Gauging the maturity of your quality management system....


New Frontiers

by Kenett, Ron; Salini, Silvia

Self-declared or interview-based surveys are a prime research tool in many application areas, such as risk management, customer satisfaction tracking and social science research....


Progress Report

by He; Park; Hu; Knod; Yue

Six Sigma has been a hot topic discussed and implemented globally in the business world, nonprofit organizations and even governments. There is comparatively less research, however, into how to assess the maturity of Six Sigma implementation....


Statistics Roundtable: Player Rankings

by Seaman, Julia E.; Allen, I. Elaine

The coefficient of variation, sometimes called the relative standard deviation, is often used to assess the quality of an assay, the diversity in organizations or as a benchmark for ranking....


It Doesn't Add Up

by Sloan, M. Daniel

Bewildered economists offer many theories as to what ultimately led to today’s financial woes. Analysts attempt to untangle how so many factors and variables—banks, mortgages and government oversight—contributed to the mess....


3.4 per Million: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

by Conklin, Joseph D.

Six Sigma practitioners like their successes swift, large and final. Nature and circumstance, however, are rarely that kind. Normally, success is secured one step at a time....


Small Change, Big Impact

by West, John E. “Jack”

Little has changed in the fourth edition of ISO 9001, which was issued late last year by the International Organization for Standardization. ISO 9001:2008 contains no new requirements, so the transition should be painless for most organizations....


Open Access

Building From the Basics

by Rooney, James J.; Kubiak, T.M; Westcott, Russ; Reid, R. Dan; Wagoner, Keith; Pylipow, Peter E.; Plsek, Paul

Quality control is about models, methods, measuring and managing. It’s about uncovering a problem and finding the solution. It’s about using the right techniques at the right time to make things better....


Statistics Roundtable: Care and Feeding of Checkweighers

by Hare, Lynne B.; Eberhardt, Keith

Many years ago, during a tour of a production facility where packages of customer goods were being filled, a statistician colleague and I stood transfixed by an end-of-line checkweigher....


A DMAIC Makeover

by Stauffer, Rip

Define, measure, Analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) is the common roadmap for Six Sigma projects. But there are potential weaknesses in this roadmap that could be addressed with a simple, proven adjustment to DMAIC....


Statistics Roundtable: Make Data Matter

by Snee, Ronald D.

Is data analysis an art or a science? Arguments exist for both sides, and many people simply come down in the middle: it’s both....


Starting From Scratch

by Radziwill, Nicole; Olson, Diane; Vollmar, Andrew; Lippert, Ted; Mattis, Ted; Van Dewark, Kevin; Sinn, John W.

Graduate students studying quality developed the Quality Systems Development Roadmap to help organizations do this, using application templates from the Lean Six Sigma Quality Transformation Toolkit. However, new companies, organizations without an enterp...


Newer Better Faster

by Stevenson, James R.; Kashef, Ali E.

The Small Business Administration has indicated that the majority of innovations are consistent with the continuous improvement commonly used in the define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) Six Sigma method....


3.4 per Million: After the Low-Hanging Fruit

by Mader, Douglas P.

There are four major approaches for organization-wide improvement efforts that fall under the label “lean Six Sigma,” as evidenced by current practices at many industrial organizations, service organizations and consulting firms....


Open Access

Far-Sighted

by Krzykowski, Brett

In the first year nonprofit organizations could apply for the honor, Coral Springs became the first local government to take home a Baldrige award by proving it didn't emphasize the present at the expense of the future....


Open Access

Sharp HealthCare Gets to the Point in Managing Diabetes

by Daniels, Susan E.

With literature from the last five years demonstrating that poor control of blood sugar in acute healthcare settings equates to negative outcomes in diabetics, Sharp HealthCare in San Diego decided to control it everywhere....


Standards Outlook: How to Manage Risk in a Global Economy

by Liebesman, Sandford

The global economy has provided opportunities that didn’t exist just 10 years ago. But the flattening of the Earth via the internet and extensive outsourcing to countries such as China and Mexico have also presented organizations with many risks....


Measure for Measure: Feather in Your QAP

by Niemann, Craig A.

One of the most important functions in a calibration laboratory is the quality assurance program (QAP), which is crucial in creating a culture where technicians buy into using process improvement to produce a quality product....


Educating Engineers

by Viles, Elisabeth; Martin, Cristina

Statistics is an indispensable tool for solving engineering problems. But many engineers are not exposed to problems that require the use of statistical methods until they start their professional careers....


Lean Six Sigma's Evolution

by Mader, Doug

When Motorola rolled out its initial Six Sigma system in 1987, there were no Green Belts, Black Belts, Master Black Belts, Champions or any of the infrastructure or focused training we have come to associate with modern practices in Six Sigma....


Statistics Roundtable: Back to the Future

by Snee, Ron; Kamm, Jason

Now more than ever, we need to use the kind of critical thinking and deeper process knowledge that predates the explosion of technology and software. By identifying and applying key aspects of the data mining process and then using them in novel...


Standards Outlook: Output Really Does Matter

by West, John E. "Jack"

Auditing is a key component of systems that provide confidence in organizations’ competence, ability and honesty in meeting requirements. For decades we have been using audits for this purpose...


ASQ Team Says QMS and EMS Standards Support SOX

by Liebesman, Sandford

The intent of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was to make the financial system of control more transparent and to reduce the incidence of corporate fraud. It soon became evident, however, that compliance with the law’s auditing requirements would be...


Six Sigma and Baldrige: A Quality Alliance

by Mellat-Parast, Mahour; Jones, Erick C.; Adams, Stephanie G.

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has evolved from a way to recognize the best quality management practices to a comprehensive framework for world-class performance....


Online Figures: Don't Throw Out the Baby With the Bathwater

by Dreier, Frederick

Berthoud High School areas of quality: Suggested areas to strengthen: � Academic planning ( T, S) � Number of staff at extra duty activities ( T, S) � School to life/ college ( T, S) � Input from parents ( T, SIT) � Establishing bridges with postsecondar...


The Innovation Process and Quality Tools

by Walker, H. Fred; Levesque, Justin

Cost control and product quality are only capable of sustaining competitive advantage. It takes product or service innovation to create competitive advantage in a global marketplace. Innovation consists of a series of steps like any other business or...


Statistics Roundtable: Reliability Assessment by Use-Rate Acceleration

by Necip Doganaksoy, Gerald J. Hahn, William Q. Meeker

Statistical evidence is often needed to show that a proposed product meets or exceeds its reliability goals. Many times, such evidence must be obtained in a compressed time period....


Open Access

Quality Focus Good for Business

by Nelsen, Dave

Premier Inc., a San Diego-based healthcare alliance, is a 2006 recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) in the service category. The firm credits employee involvement, experience gained while earning a state quality award, and...


3.4 per Million: Assessing the Effectiveness of Controls Under Uncertainty

by Conklin, Joseph D.

Sequential sampling and logistic regression techniques offer useful strategies....


The Science in Six Sigma

by de Mast, Jeroen; Bisgaard, Soren

The structure Six Sigma provides for managing an organization's improvement initiatives is more important than its conformance quality target. It also guides project leaders and offers an array of analysis tools. In addition to Six Sigma's DMAIC...


Open Access

Back to Basics: Data Collection Guidelines: the People Element

by Laman, Scott

Collecting high quality data is essential to the success of any project, process improvement or new product development....


3.4 per Million: Six Sigma in Everything We Do?

by Carnell, Mike

I was lucky to work for Motorola in the 1980s and early 1990s - right in the middle of the company's transformation. Motorola was at risk as were many U.S. businesses....


Statistics Roundtable: Improving Reliability Through Warranty Data Analysis

by Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J.; Meeker, William Q.

Today's emphasis on proactive improvement calls for building high reliability into products at design. The goal is to avoid field failures during a product's estimated lifetime....


Challenges in RFID Enabled Supply Chain Management

by RFID study group at Pennsylvania State University

Supply chain management is the fastest growing application of radio frequency identification devices (RFID), but few organizations are equipped to deal with the accompanying flood of information. Most definitions of RFID emphasize the technological...


Statistics Roundtable: Different Roads to Take for Data Analysis

by Anderson-Cook, Christine

For most of us with some formal training in statistical methods - from a single course to an advanced degree - the starting point of this part of our education typically began with classical or frequentist methods for analyzing data....


Open Access

Back to Basics: Painting the Big Picture

by Gojanovic, Tony

In today’s highly competitive global business environment, a corporation’s decisions must be based on reliable information rather than sketchy data and gut feelings. Poor decisions no longer can be absorbed, much less tolerated....


Documenting a Process - With a Side of Cole Slaw

by Lynn, Leon; Kalfayan, John

Barbecue is an art, but it is also a process that can be documented and perhaps even reproduced. A dedicated group of friends conducted a controlled barbecue experiment in an effort to document the cooking method that has guided their efforts over the...


Standards Outlook: Increase ISO 9001's Value

by Liebesman, Sandford

ISO 9001 describes a basic, effective quality management system (QMS). Compliance to it is the starting point toward achieving excellence in an organization. Additions to an ISO 9001 compliant QMS can act as the first steps toward excellence....


New Frontiers in the Design of Experiments

by Kenett, Ron S.; Steinberg, David M.

Statistically designed experiments enable businesses to reduce time to market while achieving quality product performance that is critical to survival and success. R.A. Fisher first introduced them in the early 20th century to evaluate the results of...


Open Access

Lean Lessons: Value Stream Mapping--an Introduction

by Manos, Tony

Value stream mapping (VSM) can be an extremely powerful tool, combining material processing steps with information flow as well as other important related data. VSM is arguably one of the most powerful lean tools for an organization......


Statistics Roundtable: How to Analyze Reliability Data for Repairable Products

by Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J., Meeker, William Q.

Leveraging powerful - yet simple - methods for reliability data analysis of repairable products or systems can help you stay on the right track....


Measure for Measure: Appraiser Variation in Gage R&R Measurement

by Ermer, Donald

In part one of this column, I said if our data analysis is inaccurate, it does not represent the true quality characteristics of the part or product being measured, even if we're using quality improvement tools correctly....


Bridging the Gap Between the Classroom and Real World

by Liebesman, Sandford

Two of the courses in Scott Hiler's business education classes at Paramus High School in New Jersey specifically cover international business and management systems that include lessons on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, total quality management, and ISO 9000....


Statistics Roundtable: Data Mining for Quality

by Seaman, I.

Allen, I. Elaine; Seaman, Christopher A.

In a 1996 Quality Progress article, Bert Gunter urged caution in the use of data mining based on the extraordinary amount of hype and false promises it was receiving at the time....


Link Satisfaction To Market Share and Profitability

by Allen, Derek

Organizations seeking to link customer satisfaction data to profitability can choose from a variety of business outcome measures. However, the level of customer interaction varies among industries, making it difficult to link customer satisfaction to...


Open Access

A Quality Library for a Desert Island

by Conklin, Joe

A key skill for any quality professional is knowing where to find the answers to questions. After more than 20 years in the quality business, I find my workday is a healthy mixture of old and new questions....


The Cause and Effect Of My Quality Journey

by Ayad, Amine

My first encounter with quality occurred when I was a teenager and read in the newspaper that a human error resulted in a patient's death at a hospital. That incident created a shift in my life....


Prepare Students For Technical Careers

by Heinrich, George; Jordan, Karen; Smalley, Audrey; Boast, Steve

In a global comparison, U.S. high school students are not competitive in mathematics, and relatively few pursue engineering or other technical disciplines when they enter college. A survey conducted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers showed gaps...


Open Access

Time Management Using Quality Tools

by Courtney, Patrick M.

Quality tools are useful in personal life. The Six Sigma concept of process improvement, specifically the DMAIC tools, has been moved from product to process, and is now applicable for personal performance improvement. Random time checklists, frequency...


Quality in the First Person: Old Ideas Find a New Industry

by Hilgendorf, Alex

I work in the software industry. My world changes quickly, and it can be hard to keep up. As the software industry is still quite young, many of its employees are not yet as indoctrinated into the quality world as are people in other industries....


Quality in the First Person: Dead Man's Shoes

by Davis, Peter

The responsibility for quality assurance is sometimes bestowed upon reluctant recipients who don't really understand quality. However, basic quality assurance factors don't change between business sectors. The real issue is to get people to listen and...


Quality in the First Person: Quality Shots

by Fernandez, Heriberto

Quality tools that are vital to process management can be used in almost every field of activity, including sports. A player's performance in a basketball game is subject to variation that must be controlled and reduced. An example focusing on...


Use Simple Models for Incoming Defects

by Bartlett, Terry R.

The best quality system cannot prevent or detect all defects before delivery, so customers generally set a quality target they want a supplier to achieve. The standard should be high, but achievable. For example, the customer might expect the supplier...


Planning Reliability Assessment

by Meeker, William Q.; Hahn, Gerald J.; Doganaksoy, Necip

Let’s say you have designed a new metal spring and want to estimate the time by which 10% of such springs will fail. How many units do you need to test and for how long?...


Open Access

A Recipe For Excellence

by Daniels, Susan E.

The roots of the Bama Companies' 2004 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award go back to a Texas kitchen in 1927. Today the third-generation family owned business makes frozen baked goods for fast food and casual dining restaurants using the same...


What a Bubble Plot Can Do for You

by Gojanovic, Tony

As an industrial statistician, I believe the majority of insights into manufacturing problems can be gleaned from simple graphical displays. One exploratory graphical tool with high potential for revealing patterns in data is the bubble plot....


Quality Management's Role in Global Sourcing

by Watkins, David K.

Globalization and the evolution of quality management systems from a focus on controlling product conformity to a much broader focus on overall enterprise capability have resulted in the need to redefine the role of quality management in dealing with...


Opportunities Are Everywhere

by Sayle, Allan J.

As the distinction between quality management and business management fades, an unprecedented confluence of trends and forces offers unique opportunities for quality professionals. Sporadic cost cutting campaigns are being replaced by business...


Volunteer Trains Black Belts in Romania

by Lochner, Robert

A retired quality management consultant relates his experiences as a volunteer trainer of Black Belts in Romania, Europe's poorest country. Under the sponsorship of NCH Advisors, a management company that administers investments made in Romania by...



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