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Quality Glossary - P


Painted floor: A lean manufacturing technique to provide visual control (for example, to indicate a nonconforming material area or to determine stock levels).

Parallel operation: A technique to create economy of scale by having two operators work together to perform tasks on either side of a machine. Using this technique reduces the time it takes a single operator to move from one side to the other, making the overall process more efficient. An example of parallel operation is having two people work on a changeover, supplementing each other’s work effort.

Pareto chart: A graphical tool for ranking causes from most significant to least significant. It is based on the Pareto principle, named after 19th century economist Vilfredo Pareto, and suggests that most effects come from relatively few causes; that is, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the possible causes. Also known as the "80-20 rule" (see listing). One of the “seven tools of quality” (see listing).

Partnership/alliance: A strategy and a formal relationship between a supplier and a customer that engenders cooperation for the benefit of both parties.

Parts per million (PPM): A metric reporting the number of defects normalized to a population of one million for ease of comparison.

P chart: See “percent chart.”

PDCA cycle: See “plan-do-check-act cycle.”

Percent chart: A control chart for evaluating the stability of a process in terms of the percentage of the total number of units in a sample in which an event of a given classification occurs. Also referred to as a proportion chart.

Performance standard: The metric against which a complete action is compared.

Physical transformation task: A step taking a specific product from raw materials to a finished product delivered to the customer. Also see “value stream” and “information flow.”

Pitch: The pace and flow of a product.

Plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle: A four-step process for quality improvement. In the first step (plan), a way to effect improvement is developed. In the second step (do), the plan is carried out. In the third step (check), a study takes place between what was predicted and what was observed in the previous step. In the last step (act), action should be taken to correct or improve the process.

Point kaizen: See “process kaizen.”

Point of use: The place where or the time when a product or service is used.

Poisson distribution: A discrete probability distribution that expresses the probability of a number of events occurring in a fixed time period if these events occur with a known average rate, and are independent of the time since the last event.

Poka-yoke: Japanese term that means mistake proofing. A poka-yoke device is one that prevents incorrect parts from being made or assembled or easily identifies a flaw or error. See “mistake proofing.”

Policy: A plan (direction), statement of intent or commitment for achieving an objective.

Precision: The amount of variation that exists in the values of multiple measurements of the same characteristic or parameter. Greater precision means less variation between measurements.

Prevention cost: The cost incurred by actions taken to prevent a nonconformance from occurring; one element of cost of quality. See “cost of quality.”

Prevention versus detection: A term used to contrast two types of quality activities. Prevention refers to activities for preventing nonconformances in products and services. Detection refers to activities for detecting nonconformances already in products and services.

Preventive action: Action taken to prevent occurrence of nonconformances.

Probability (statistical): The likelihood of occurrence of an event, action or item.

Probability of rejection: The probability that a product or lot will be rejected.

Problem concentration diagram: A root cause analysis tool that helps connect events to physical locations in order to reveal patterns of occurrence when delving deeper to determine the root cause.

Problem solving: The act of solving a problem.

Procedure: A particular way of accomplishing an expected outcome.

Process: A set of interrelated work activities that transform inputs into outputs.

New! Process analysis: A study of the inputs, steps and outputs of a process. Generally used to improve the understanding of the process to determine methods to correct, control or improve the process’ effectiveness and efficiency.

Process average quality: Expected or average value of process quality.

Process capability: A statistical measure of the inherent process variability of a given characteristic.

Process capability index: The value of the tolerance specified for the characteristic divided by the process capability. The several types of process capability indexes include the widely used Cpk and Cp.

Process control: The method for ensuring that a process meets specified requirements.

New! Process decision program chart (PDPC): A type of tree diagram used for the systematic analysis of a process to identify process risks and countermeasures to take to avoid or mitigate those risks. Also see "tree diagram."

Process flow diagram: A visual depiction, generally using symbols, of the flow of materials or information through a process. Also called a process flowchart.

Process improvement: Actions taken to increase the effectiveness or efficiency of a process in meeting specified requirements.

Process improvement team: A structured group often made up of cross functional members who work together to improve a process or processes.

Process kaizen: Improvements made at an individual process or in a specific area. Sometimes called “point kaizen.”

Process management: Activities undertaken to manage processes; typically involves planning, communicating, monitoring, measuring or control methods.

Process map: A type of flowchart visually depicting the steps in a process.

Process owner: The person who has responsibility and authority for ensuring that a process meets specified requirements and achieves objectives.

Process performance management (PPM): The overseeing of process instances to ensure their quality and timeliness; can also include proactive and reactive actions to ensure a good result.

Process quality: The degree to which process results meet specified requirements.

Process re-engineering: A strategy of rethinking and redesigning a process; often referred to as the “clean sheet of paper” approach.

New! Process view of work: The understanding that work can be viewed as a “process” which has inputs, steps and output(s) and that a process has interfaces with other processes.

New! Product audit: A systematic and independent examination of a product to gather objective evidence to determine the degree of conformance to specified requirements.

Production (analysis) board: A job site board on which production results are compared with targets or where other related production information is posted. An example of visual management.

Production part approval process (PPAP): A customer part qualification process for purchased parts or materials that are to be used in the customer’s final product. Customer PPAP approval, or a deviation, is required before shipping the purchased parts or materials to the customer for use in their production process. Its purpose is to determine whether all customer engineering design record requirements are properly understood by the supplier and that the process has the potential to produce product consistently meeting these requirements.

Production smoothing: Keeping total manufacturing volume as constant as possible. Also see “heijunka.”

Productivity: A measurement of output for a given amount of input.

Product or service liability: The obligation of an organization to make restitution for loss related to personal injury, property damage or other harm caused by its product or service.

Product warranty: An organization’s stated policy that it will replace, repair or reimburse a buyer for a product if a product defect occurs under certain conditions and within a stated period of time.

Profound knowledge, system of: Defined by W. Edwards Deming, a system that consists of an appreciation for systems, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and understanding of psychology.

Project management: The application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities to meet the specified requirements of a particular project.

New! Project planning tools: Methods for the systematic arranging, sequencing and scheduling of project's tasks.

Project team: Manages the work of a project. The work typically involves balancing competing demands for project scope, time, cost, risk and quality, satisfying stakeholders with differing needs and expectations, and meeting identified requirements.

Proportion chart: See ”percent chart.”

Pull system: An inventory management system based on replenishing inventory based on use rather than a schedule or forecast. Also see “kanban.”