Quality quiz (September 2016)—and August’s quiz winners!

Winners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1 are Roberta Martinez (F&B Manufacturing, AZ); Surinder Sikand (Siemens Milltronics Process Instruments, ON); and Kimberly Hammond (Gritman Medical Center, ID). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 2, submit your response by September 30.

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Data in everyday life: Voting

Beth SavageAmerican citizens who are 18 years or older have the right to vote in US general elections. However, it is the voter’s choice whether or not to exercise that right. This is in contrast to countries where voting is compulsory. In Australia, for example, under federal electoral law, all eligible citizens are required to vote in federal elections or pay a $20 penalty. Australia’s voter turnout percentages top 80%.

So what are the voter turnout percentages in the US? Does the voter turnout process exhibit normal or special cause variation? Let’s look at a control chart of voter turnout rates since 1960 (which was the first year that all 50 states were eligible to vote in the presidential election) to find the answers. Does it give any insight to what our 2016 election holds?

Myron Tribus: A legacy of quality

Barb ClearyMyron Tribus, friend of PQ Systems, died August 31 in Pensacola, FL at the age of 94. Tribus, known as an organizational theorist, was director of the Center for Advanced Engineering Study at MIT, and taught thermodynamics for much of his career. He is best known among quality professionals as a friend, supporter, and interpreter of W. Edwards Deming. For more than 20 years, he shared his expertise at quality conferences and through his prolific writing.  For his work with Pensacola in applying Deming’s principles, he was awarded the keys to the city, and received innumerable awards from quality professional organizations.

Tribus attended many of PQ Systems’ annual conferences, and in 1992 addressed participants as a keynote speaker, where he shared reminiscences about interactions with Deming. I recall a colorful story he shared in his presentation about his first meeting with Deming. This account had a lasting impression on me, as well as on other participants.

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Why capability? And how?

Barb ClearyCapability analysis, with its formulas and the confusion around Ppk, Cpk, Cpm, and other indices, is often perceived as far too difficult, complex, and challenging to consider utilizing. Good reasons for undertaking the analysis are sometimes not considered, in the light of this perceived complexity.

In fact, good reasons for using capability analysis not only exist, but provide compelling argument for utilizing this statistical tool.  And it’s really not that hard.

Capability analysis offers a way to compare a process to a customer’s requirements, coming up with a score that facilitates communication with the customer to indicate how well a process is able to meet these requirements. Since the language and terminology surrounding capability analysis are consistent and generally agreed upon, discussions can be effective, and can initiate continued progress with meeting and surpassing the customer’s requirements.

In capability analysis, these customer requirements are expressed as specifications, not to be confused with control limits.  Some examples of customer requirements (specifications):

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Bytes and pieces: News you can use

Conference registration: The AIAG 2016 Quality Summit will be held September 29-30 in Novi, MI. This year’s theme is “Surviving and Thriving Through Industry Transformation.”

Takata airbag recall: Choosing a supplier on the basis of price alone has created the world’s largest recall effort.

AME conference:  The annual conference of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) will take place in Dallas, October 24-28. The AME conference is the largest lean and continuous improvement conference in the world.

Food quality: Antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria has been found in one in every four chicken samples collected from the UK’s largest supermarkets.

Deming’s 14 Points: Innovation as An Outcome

Barb ClearyIn a rapidly changing business environment, it’s sometimes hard just to keep up with everyday demands—never mind having time to develop new and better approaches to changing requirements, needs, or markets. Staying ahead of the curve sounds as if it might demand working longer hours, hiring more people, or cloning oneself, none of which seem likely in the short term. So how does one manage to innovate in this environment?

The word “innovation” itself summons images of new products, or dramatically new approaches to customer needs, or a new version of a product or a new application of technology. Per Byland in Entrepreneur asserts that innovations often involve simply rethinking supply chains or factory operations, even in small ways that improve processes. With respect to Henry Ford’s car and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, “the factor that made these companies great wasn’t primarily technology; it was organization.”

By developing a mindset that continually asks, “How can this process be better?” organizations will find that innovation comes naturally. Fostering such a mindset lies at the heart of improvement as well as innovation.

It may be time to recall W. Edwards Deming and his 14 Points for Management that he outlined in chapter two of Out of the Crisis (MIT Press, 2000). Generally seen as keys to product and process improvement, they also reflect the process for innovation. Perhaps we can see these tried-and-true management principles in a new light.

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Quality quiz (August 2016)—and July’s quiz winners!

Winners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1 are Adam Haviland (Burr Oak Tool & Gauge Co, MI); Joe Sheline (Swihart Industries, OH); and Steve Black (QEP, TN). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1, submit your response by August 31.

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