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First Things First

by Arendall, C. Steven; Tiger, Andrew A.; Westbrook, Kevin W.;

Quality management literature has devoted considerable effort to the task of understanding and measuring process capability. Process capability is defined as the best distribution a process can produce given its present design at a given point in time....


Back in Service

by Chakravorty, Satya S.

Machines have evolved from prehistoric tools to sophisticated 21st century devices. Man has been and always will be fascinated by machines and will continue to dream about building something that does what everyone thinks is impossible....


Expert Answers: October 2013

by QP Staff

Handling incoming inspections ... identifying special processes during an audit...


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

Back to Basics: Light Bulb Moment

by Force, Scott

NEWLY CERTIFIED Six Sigma Black Belts often struggle with understanding how the various quality tools work together. It took me a few projects before I began to see linkage. As I teach and mentor new Belts, I use an analogy that hits close to home....


Standards Outlook: The Missing Key

by West, John E. "Jack"

Past perceptions about conformity to ISO 9001 suggest an organization may have a good quality management system, but it can still produce junk. But ISO 9001 does provide reasonable assurance that the output of the system will meet customer needs....


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....


Heart of the Matter

by Aba, Eli Kofi; Hayden, Michael A.

The goal of most processes in the manufacturing and service industries is to produce products or services that exhibit little to no variation. Variation is defined as “where no two items or services are exactly the same.”...


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?...


Statistics Roundtable: Getting Graphical

by Borror, Connie M., White, T. Kevin

A company has six manufacturing processes critical to its business success. Management recently required each area manager to provide quarterly reports on the performance of their particular process....


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....


3.4 per Million: No Specification? No Problem

by Breyfogle, Forrest W. III

In a column earlier this year I referenced a nine-step approach for determining an organization’s long-lasting operational metrics and how to decide where to focus improvement efforts so the entire enterprise benefits....


Open Access

Back to Basics: To DMAIC or Not to DMAIC?

by Berardinelli, Carl F.

Define, measure, analyze, improve and control is a structured problem-solving method. Each phase builds on the previous one, with the goal of implementing long-term solutions to problems. Most problem-solving efforts benefit from a disciplined method....


Online Conklin: The Road More Traveled

by Conklin, Joseph D.; Mazu, Michael J.

After being part of a great team that implemented process management at Plant Able in the XYZ division of Heavymet, I took the show on the road to our sister facility Plant Baker....


Open Access

Site Seeing

by Yu, Louis W.; Urkin, Esther; Lum, Steve; Kenett, Ron S.; Ben-Jacob, Ron

Assessing exposure to risk events and initiating proactive risk mitigation actions must be a priority of organizations worldwide. Fortunately, there’s a conceptual and methodical approach to conducting a risk-based quality audit....


A Change in Focus

by Lokas, Karim

It is ironic that the life-sciences industry’s approach to quality management systems has been lagging rather than leading due to a fundamental focus on compliance with regulation versus a holistic process for improving quality....


Expert Answers: May 2011

by QP Staff

Calculating limits for three processes....


3.4 per Million: Sum it Up

by Conklin, Joseph D.

The future of the quality profession is a perennially popular topic of conversation whenever my colleagues gather at the water cooler, the monthly section meeting or the annual ASQ conference....


Perspectives: Regain Your Footing

by Weisbrod, Stu

The presence of warning signs that quality may be slipping doesn’t mean an organization is doomed. Instead, it can be redeemed with a three-step approach to reinvigorate quality....


Expert Answers: April 2011

by QP Staff

Size matters when remedying poor quality ... Examining process capability indexes....


Loud and Clear

by Aquino, Glynis; Nichols, Michael D.; Houry, Karim

An company's use of metrics to drive and measure success can help it maintain a leadership position in its industry. A commitment to applying performance management tools has increased efficiencies, reduced cost and improved customer satisfaction scores....


Standards Outlook: Righting the Wrongs

by Schnoll, Les

Most organizations do not have a clue when it comes to root cause determination, and their inability to meet the requirement can be disastrous from regulatory and business perspectives....


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....


3.4 per Million: Integrating Inputs

by Breyfogle, Forrest W. III

Obtaining voice of the customer information is always important because a business’s survival depends on a person choosing its products over a competitor’s products....


Expert Answers: October 2010

by QP Staff

Assessing your audit ... control charts and process capability ... keeping lab instruments in check....


Open Access

One Good Idea: Number Nine

by Navetta, Jim

Keeping the eight lean wastes in mind when creating a process flowchart is a great way to target improvement opportunities. But during the course of several projects, I’ve come across another form of waste....


Standards Outlook: Better Together

by Russell, J.P.

Even if everything is done appropriately during an audit, following up on the findings is just as important because it gives meaning to the audit....


Window of Opportunity

by Chadha, Rajeev; Kalra, Jay

By employing lean Six Sigma, a supplier for one of the Big Three automakers met its goals and developed technology that is projected to be applicable to any and every automobile—from two-door coupes to full-size vans—within five years....


0210 Standards Online Only

by Schnoll, Les

Manufacturing approves or manages release of drawings for each phase of the product development process ( PDP) per the drawing release procedure . Change control defined by the preproduction design change or production design change procedure Make and b...


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....


Open Access

Career Corner: Out of Quality, Out of Business

by Kulisek, Diane

Being lean used to be associated with poverty and starvation. Today, being lean refers to profitability and fitness, especially in business. Cutting corporate fat, or non-essentials, has become as important for organizational health as slimming down is...


Open Access

All Ears

by Sherman, Peter; Vono, Jim

Imagine you are presenting the analysis and findings of a critical operational issue or proposed improvement project to senior management. You feel confident because you’ve thoroughly measured and analyzed the data....


Expert Answers: June 2009

by QP Staff

Auditing management systems ... ISO 9001 trouble ... Crunching the numbers for product specifications....


Expert Answers: May 2009

by QP Staff

Design deviation ... Choosing your chart ... Studying sigma shift...


Statistics Roundtable: Grab the Brass Ring

by Snee, Ronald D.

Remember going to the amusement park and riding the carousel or merry-go-round? During the ride, there was sometimes a brass ring you could grab from a dispenser.It took some dexterity to snatch the ring from the dispenser as the carousel rotated....


A Simple Plan

by Kukor, Kreg

For more than 100 years, U.S. manufacturers have advanced equipment and manufacturing technologies to constantly monitor progress and drive process improvement....


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....


Calculated Decision

by Johnson, Louis; Sherrill, Robert

When suppliers create control charts and run capability analyses, they assume their data follow a normal distribution. However, the natural distribution of these quality characteristics—and hundreds more like them—is not the normal distribution....


Open Access

Contacts That Count

by Daniels, Susan E.

A team dedicated to improving member contact rates at Healthways Inc. pulled just about everything from its lean Six Sigma toolbox while working on a project and was recognized in ASQ’s International Team Excellence Award competition....


Expert Answers: December 2008

by QP Staff

Get your boss to pay for training ... Three or six-sigma process?

Q: I’d like to know which process is better controlled: a three-sigma process or a six-sigma process. If the context of your question relates to statistical process control (SPC), then a six-sigma process is better controlled. Q: Will the new ISO 26000 st...


Open Access

Back to Basics: Clearing SPC Hurdles

by Laman, Scott

Statistical process control (SPC) has provided significant cost savings for companies that are fortunate enough to implement it fully. However, implementation challenges can overcome the best of intentions....


Open Access

One Good Idea: Find the Answers You Seek

by Harkins, Ray

Incidental differences—those with no impact on the component's performance—are often resolved by modifying the product print to match the samples. Microsoft Excel has a powerful tool called "Goal Seek" that makes this resolution a breeze....


Open Access

A Dose of DMAIC

by Mukherjee, Shirshendu

Ruby hospital, a multispecialty for-profit facility in Calcutta, India, was the first in Eastern India to embrace ISO 9001 and is the only one in the country to have successfully deployed a Six Sigma improvement program....


Online Mukherjee figures

by Mukherjee, Shirshendu

Probability Plot of Total Cycle Time / Online Figure 1 I Chart of Total Buying Time / Online Figure 2 Mulitvariate Chart for Retrieval Time by Floor and Retriever / Online Figure 5...


Expert Answers: July 2008

by QP Staff

The sigma 1.5 shift ... ISO's origins....


3.4 per Million: Test Drives and Data Splits

by Conklin, Joseph D.

Prediction models are one of a Six Sigma practitioner’s best friends for improving processes. The more complicated and persistent the quality problem, the more useful prediction models can be....


Expert Answers: March 2008

by QP Staff

Outlook on outsourcing ... When does Six Sigma suffice?...


Expert Answers: January 2008

by QP Staff

Soft dollars and the bottom line ... Process maps: Where do you end?...


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...


DFX and DFSS: How QFD Integrates Them

by Jiang, Jui-Chin; Shiu, Ming-Li; Tu, Mao-Hsiung

The differences in concept and application between design for excellence (DFX) and design for Six Sigma (DFSS) are discussed, and it is shown how they can be effectively integrated by using quality function deployment. Quality must be built into a...


Open Access

Achieve Compliance Through CI

by Chow, Alan F.; Bowman, Ronald; Wittenberg, Leonard C.

Using Six Sigma tools for continuous improvement (CI) is a proven method for meeting or exceeding FDA requirements for medical devices. Optical Integrity Inc., a manufacturer of medical devices, used the Six Sigma define, measure, analyze, improve...


Deployment: Start Off on the Right Foot

by Gates, Robin

Deploying lean Six Sigma can produce fantastic results that are worth all the hard work of deployment. Managing change, securing leadership commitment, managing talent, and getting the right accountability will make the difference between a...


QFD's Evolution in Japan and the West

by Jiang, Jui-Chin; Shiu, Ming-Li Shiu; Tu, Mao-Hsiung

Although the theory of quality originated in the United States, early industrial applications predominantly took place in Japan. Yoji Akao conceived quality function deployment (QFD), a concept that is a vital management tool for new product...


Quality Glossary

by Nelsen, Dave

Five years after it published its first glossary of quality terms, ASQ has revised that glossary with updated definitions and new entries, many from the lean glossary published in 2005. This reference of terms, acronyms, and prominent figures in the...


Open Access

10 Quality Basics

by Duffy, Grace; Payne, Graeme; Rooney, James; Hare, Lynne; West, John E. "Jack"; Borawski, Paul; Westcott, Russ; Okes, Duke; Guttman, Howard; Foster, S. Thomas; Conklin, Joe

In an overview designed to give quality newcomers a glimpse of the knowledge they need to succeed, ten regular Quality Progress contributors write on 10 basic quality topics that are fundamentals essential to surviving in a quality role. Topics covered...


Open Access

It's in the Genes at Cummins

by Daniels, Susan

When asked why diesel maker Cummins used Six Sigma to explain new health insurance benefits to its employees, the response was that Six Sigma is part of Cummins' DNA. Six Sigma methods helped ensure a smooth enrollment process, particularly for union...


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...


Statistics Roundtable: The Ubiquitous Cpk

by Hare, Lynne B.

A colleague and I were discussing his long-term role at his company. He explained he was in charge of maintaining the computer banks of key process indicators KPIs), Cp, Cpk and so on....


Standards Outlook: Coming Changes in Aerospace Standards

by Gordon, Dale K.

All parts of the aerospace industry--commercial, business, military and space--currently seem to be doing fairly well. You could say the industry has a lot of momentum....


Statistics Roundtable: Process Variation: Enemy and Opportunity

by Snee, Ronald D.

As the giants of scientific management and the quality movement long ago pointed out, work takes place in a series of interconnected processes....


3.4 per Million: Control Charting at the 30,000-Foot-Level

by Forrest Breyfogle III

In my "3.4 per Million" columns past, I first described a traditional and a 30,000-foot-level procedure for creating control charts and making process capability/performance assessments for a continuous response with multiple sampled subgroupings....


Lean Inspection Through Supplier Partnership

by Ericson, Joel

Incoming inspection is a nonvalue-added activity that does not improve a product, but only identifies products that do not meet standards. One way to reduce incoming inspection is to move from traditional sample inspection to a system in which the...


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....


Quality in the First Person: SPC: Not Just for Geeks

by Kruger, Katrina

I fell into quality the old fashioned way: I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the time, computers were becoming important tools, and I was one of the few people in the plant who knew how - or even wanted - to operate one....


Statistics Roundtable: The Hidden Laboratory

by Hare, Lynne B.

Ralph is a research scientist with 20 years of experience. Most of the products he developed have gone by the wayside. That doesn't frustrate Ralph. What frustrates him is the increased pressure to churn out new products in record time....


One Size Does Not Fit All

by Foster, S. Thomas Jr.

It has been said that academia has lagged behind practice in the development of quality management methods and philosophies, yet academia has done a good job of propagating these concepts. Now academic research has developed two new concepts that will...


Standards Outlook: Supply Chain Management Remains Aerospace Challenge

by Gordon, Dale K.

The aerospace industry is in the process of shedding new light on the customer-supplier relationship, especially in the never ending quest to deliver defect free, safe and reliable product....


Beyond PDCA - A New Process Management

by Gupta, Praveen

The ISO 9001 quality management standard calls for the use of the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) model for managing processes. The author questions why check is included in the cycle when the goal is to reduce the need for verification activities. Current...


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....


Advancing From Compliance To Performance

by Bottoroff, Dean L.

Poor ethics has recently been recognized as a controllable factor that can either make or break and organization. If organizations would practice ethics as a logic-based discipline and quality problem, they would reach higher levels of performance that...


Open Access

Measure for Measure: Improved Gage R&R Measurement Studies

by Ermer, Donald

Many manufacturers are using tools like statistical process control (SPC) and design of experiments (DoE) to monitor and improve product quality and process productivity. However, if the data collected are not accurate and precise, they do not...


Open Access

Back to Basics: That's So Random - or Is It?

by McCain, Cecelia

Assignable cause, random variation, process stability, process capability—these terms can easily confuse those new to process management. Does random variation in a process automatically require process improvement?...


3.4 per Million: Put the Pieces Together

by Carnell, Mike

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This isn't a particularly new idea; it has been around for years. We even have an entire profession built around it....


Are You Making Decisions in a Fog?

by Snee, Ronald D.

Just as water makes up two thirds of the world's surface, measurement constitutes an enormous part of the scientific method and scientific problem solving....


Control Charting at the 30,000-Foot-Level, Part 3

by Forrest Breyfogle III

In my November 2003 "3.4 per Million" column (p. 67), I described a traditional and a 30,000-foot-level procedure for creating control charts and making process capability/performance metric assessments for a continuous response....


Getting and Keeping Top Managers Involved

by West, John E. "Jack"

Sometimes, I get questions such as, how do I get my top managers to understand the value of ISO 9001 implementation?...


The Power of Dynamic Illustrations

by Levin, Wayne J.

As more organizations embrace statistical methods and thinking, a useful new tool can help quality professionals and their students meet the challenges of learning statistical methods. Dynamic illustrations are software applications that combine...


Our Place-Kicker Is Out of Control

by Hurley, Brion

In most business, reducing variation is essential. The same is true for football and other sports. In a parable about place kicking, the author explains how statistical process control and basic quality improvement tools can be used to better understand...


Timeless Wisdom From Crosby

by Watson, Gregory H.

Philip Crosby's book, Quality Is Free, changed the way managers looked at the cost of poor quality. Written 25 years ago, Crosby's management principles are as valid today as ever. Thirteen quotations from the book illustrate Crosby's deep insight into...


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...


Control Charting at the 30,000-Foot-Level, Part 2

by Forrest Breyfogle III

In my November 2003 "3.4 per Million" column (p. 67), I described a traditional and a 30,000-foot-level procedure for creating control charts and making process capability/performance assessments for a continuous response....


Quality in the First Person

by Nix, Robert; Simonis, Matthew J.; Smith, Olin K.; Slane, William; Townsley, Rick

Five authors provide personal accounts of their quality experiences. In A Hunger for Quality, Robert Nix tells how a temporary job organizing files for a quality control manager turned into a permanent career in quality management. Certified Quality...


Open Access

Can the Gurus' Concepts Cure Healthcare?

by Nielsen, Don M.; Merry, Martin D.; Schyve, Paul M.; Bisognano, Maureen

Representatives of the movement for quality in healthcare present the views of four quality gurus as they apply to managing cost and improving the quality of healthcare. Don M. Nielsen says Philip Crosby's emphasis on prevention and zero defects has led...


Tips for Automotive Auditors

by Reid, R. Dan

ISO 9000 has taken more than its fair share of criticism, largely due to the variation in international third-party conformity assessment....


Make Work Cells Work for You

by Schonberger, Richard J.

The standard practice of dispersing production processes among geographically separate shops creates a potential for quality problems. These problems and their root causes are lost between intra-shop inventories and the number of potential flow...


Open Access

Your Gateway to Quality Knowledge

by Nelsen, Dave

For the past decade, the Quality Information Center (QIC) at ASQ’s Milwaukee headquarters has collected and compiled material from quality professionals in academics, manufacturing and service to create a definitive quality body of knowledge....


Open Access

Which Six Sigma Metric Should I Use?

by Rudisill, Frank; Druley, Steve

Since its inception at Motorola in the early 1980s, Six Sigma has helped large and small companies solve problems, improve processes, delight customers and increase profits....


The Quality of Learning

by Chambers, David W.; Fernandez, Abel A.

Quality in education can be difficult to measure because the educational process differs from manufacturing in certain intrinsic ways. The University of the Pacific’s school of dentistry uses a competency-based approach to education that assumes...


Measurement Capability

by Stein, Philip

Measurements are made all the time: in processes, to see how well work is progressing and in commerce. Most of the time, we trust these measurements are adequate for the task....


Open Access

Match the Change Vehicle and Method to the Job

by Harvey, Jean

Processes are at the core of continuous improvement, and improvement happens when a process is changed in one way or another....


From Conflict to Collaboration

by Gupta, Anirban

The relationship between a customer and supplier helps determine a product or service’s quality. The stronger the relationship, the more value it can offer....


Faster Test Results

by Godin, Eric; Raven, Dennis; Sweetapple, Carolyn; Del Guidice, Frank R.

Southside Hospital used Six Sigma to reduce test turnaround times from 68 hours to an average of 32 hours. The use of quality tools helped the hospital improve the sigma level for stress test turnaround....


Eight Essential Tools

by Snee, Ronald D.

The broad use of Six Sigma since its introduction in the 1980s has taught us much about how to make the best use of Six Sigma tools. Now we need to take a look back and reflect on what we’ve learned...


How to Implement and Audit the Process Approach

by Russell, J.P.

If you organize your management system according to how business processes work instead of by departments or elements of a standard, you are using the system-process management approach. The ISO standards community has provided several guidance documents ...


Column: Standards Outlook: Characteristic Management

by Reid, R. Dan

Executives sometimes wonder why their organizations still have quality problems, despite their best efforts to eliminate them. There are many possible causes and you've probably heard of some of them, such as lack of resources and lack of leadership or...


Control Charting at the 30,000-Foot-Level

by Breyfogle, Forrest

For a given process, do you think everyone would create a similar looking control chart and make a similar statement relative to process control and predictability? This type of data traditionally leads to an and R control chart, as shown in Figure 1 (p. ...


Open Access

SPC: From Chaos to Wiping the Floor

by Hare, Lynne B.

Physicist Walter Shewhart, in tackling the problem of process control, began with the definition of control and went on to distinguish chance causes from assignable causes of variation. He believed that assignable causes could be found and eliminated....


Capability Analysis of Complex Parts

by Vermani, S.K.

Several years ago, Military Aircraft and Missile Systems Group (A&M), a division of the Boeing Company in St. Louis, made a strategic decision to focus on its main business—aircraft and missile assembly....


Open Access

My Supplier’s Capability Is What?

by Pylipow, Peter E.

One fine day at Skyko Industries, Brett, the commodity manager, approached Gail, the manufacturing manager, about a cost savings opportunity....



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