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Quality Glossary - P


Painted floor: A lean manufacturing technique to provide visual indications to determine stock levels. Similar to kanban.

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, which was first defined by Joseph M. Juran in 1950. The principle, named after 19th century economist Vilfredo Pareto, suggests most effects come from relatively few causes; that is, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the possible causes. One of the “seven tools of quality” (see listing).

Partnership/alliance: Both 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 method of stating the performance of a process in terms of actual nonconforming material, which can include rejected, returned or suspect material in the calculation.

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: 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, preferably on a small scale. 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 is taken on the causal system to effect the desired change. The plan-do-check-act cycle is sometimes referred to as the Shewhart cycle, because Walter A. Shewhart discussed the concept in his book Statistical Method From the Viewpoint of Quality Control, and as the Deming cycle, because W. Edwards Deming introduced the concept in Japan. The Japanese subsequently called it the Deming cycle. Also called the plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle.

Point kaizen: See “process kaizen.”

Point of use: A technique that ensures people have exactly what they need to do their jobs—work instructions, parts, tools and equipment—where and when they need them.

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 pokayoke device is one that prevents incorrect parts from being made or assembled or easily identifies a flaw or error.

Policy: An overarching plan (direction) for achieving an organization’s goals.

Precision: The aspect of measurement that addresses repeatability or consistency when an identical item is measured several times.

Prevention cost: The cost incurred by actions taken to prevent a nonconformance from occurring; one element of cost of quality or cost of poor 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. Another phrase to describe this distinction is “designing in quality versus inspecting in quality.”

Preventive action: Action taken to remove or improve a process to prevent potential future occurrences of a nonconformance.

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

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

Problem solving: The act of defining a problem; determining the cause of the problem; identifying, prioritizing and selecting alternatives for a solution; and implementing a solution.

Procedure: The steps in a process and how these steps are to be performed for the process to fulfill a customer’s requirements; usually documented.

Process: A set of interrelated work activities characterized by a set of specific inputs and value added tasks that make up a procedure for a set of specific outputs.

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

Process capability: A statistical measure of the inherent process variability of a given characteristic. The most widely accepted formula for process capability is 6 sigma.

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 keeping a process within boundaries; the act of minimizing the variation of a process.

Process flow diagram: A depiction of the flow of materials through a process, including any rework or repair operations; also called a process flow chart.

Process improvement: The application of the plan-do-check-act cycle (see listing) to processes to produce positive improvement and better meet the needs and expectations of customers.

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: The pertinent techniques and tools applied to a process to implement and improve process effectiveness, hold the gains and ensure process integrity in fulfilling customer requirements.

Process map: A type of flowchart depicting the steps in a process and identifying responsibility for each step and key measures.

Process owner: The person who coordinates the various functions and work activities at all levels of a process, has the authority or ability to make changes in the process as required and manages the entire process cycle to ensure performance effectiveness.

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 value of percentage defective or of defects per hundred units in product from a given process. Note: The symbols “p” and “c” are commonly used to represent the true process average in fraction defective or defects per unit; and “l00p” and “100c” the true process average in percentage defective or in defects per hundred units.

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

Production (analysis) board: A job site board on which hourly production targets are recorded, along with the actual production achieved. Details concerning problems and abnormal conditions are also recorded. Management checks the board hourly, takes steps to prevent recurrence of abnormalities and confirms the positive effects of the job site improvements that have been made. An example of visual management.

Production part approval process (PPAP): A Big Three automotive process that defines the generic requirements for approval of production parts, including production and bulk materials. Its purpose is to determine during an actual production run at the quoted production rates whether all customer engineering design record and specification 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 requirements of a particular project.

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 alternative to scheduling individual processes, in which the customer process withdraws the items it needs from a supermarket (see listing) and the supplying process produces to replenish what was withdrawn; used to avoid push. Also see “kanban.”