Okay for the last two weeks, I’ve been talking about Measurement System Analysis and before I move on to a new topic I have one final post on why you should be thinking about MSA. Here it goes…
Why you use it
- You use MSA to compare you customer’s expectations to your inspection standards. This is a very quick illustration of a value stream map and a good way to ensure that you are providing the best service for your customer.
- It gives you a snapshot of where the training in your organization should be.
- It gives you the opportunity to evaluate your trainers in a truly neutral fashion. The data doesn’t lie and you can assess the training in your organization from a truly objective perspective.
- Creates an opportunity to analyze your existing systems and evaluate new systems.
Why is it important?
- Allows you to measure the amount of variation in your measurement systems.
- Allows you to compare user variation.
- Allows you to compare two or more measurement systems.
- Helps you develop a baseline for measurement systems.
- Helps you develop a system to evaluate the moving pieces in your organization.
- Gives you a true before and after picture.
- Gives you a true measurement of variation and the causes of it.
- Evaluates your training programs.
So I am a big fan of MSA as you can tell, but the bottom line is that it can really affect your organization in the best way. It forces you to be accountable and it forces you to pay attention to the changes. Give it shot and if we can help, let us know.
I am always an advocate of finding the right tool for your specific project, so I propose that you get to know MSA. It’s a great foundational tool and a great way to start building in the practice of good measurement within your organization. There are a few things you need to know when looking at your measurement system, let’s start with these.
What is a measurement system?
However your organization measures data, in Six Sigma we define your measurement system as ‘your complete process used to measure data’. The thing to know about measurement systems is the more moving parts you have, the more potential sources of errors you have.
What effects measurements?
Measurements are effected by a variety of factors, but some of the usual suspects are:
Accuracy-The numerical difference between what you think and what actually is.
Linearity-The change in the operating system of your measuring system. Think about when you have a different operating system on your laptop. Screens are viewed and you may have some errors. Same principal.
Stability-Something about your measurement system is inconsistent. It may be the way you intake data or the way your process it, but something is not consistent.
Precision-This is all about how much variation occurs in whatever it is you are measuring.
What are the red flags?
If your measurement system give you a reason to pause before you do anything, take a look at the repeatability and reproducibility of your measurement system. When you are looking for repeatability, you are looking for the variation that occurs when you measure the same piece of data using the same measurement method. For repeatability you are looking for the variation that occurs when different people measure the same thing using the same methods. To be fair there will always be some variation when multiple people are involved, but you want to get your measurement system as close to no variation as possible.
In creating your ideal situation, you may have to critical eye on your measurement system. It’s hard, but it is worth it. We will pick up on this subject next week and continue to fine tune your measurement systems!
As we cover Six Sigma Statistics, I want to make sure that I go over the illustrative part of the statistics. We know Six Sigma is technical but the key to making it stick, is to make it simple and understood by the non-technical people using it. So let’s talk about the Box Plot or the Whisker Plot. A key thing to remember in Six Sigma is that everyone using different terminology, so ask questions and make sure you are speaking the same language.
What is a Box Plot?
Simply put a box plot helps to put a picture to the data showing you where most of the data falls, how the data is distributed and where the outliers are. So it basically shows you what you’ve got, how it looks and what is unusual about it.
What does it measure?
Say you have a process that has multiple variables affecting it and you want to know what is what. If you have a delivery truck with 4 alternative routes a box plot can show you which ones, according to the data, are the most problematic. Additionally a box plot will tell you how symmetrical your data is. Knowing if your data is skewed or not can affect how you interpret your data. In a box plot, if the data is mostly symmetrical the median will appear in the middle of the box and the whiskers will appear to be mostly the same length. IF the data is skewed to one direction, the median will not be in the middle and the whiskers will be different sizes.
How does it work?
Box plot measurements are based on quartiles and the distributions are shown within the graphic. Think back to your SAT’s or ACT’s. Remember how they told you that you scored in the 25th percentile? Well that’s a box plot. You will have an upper limit and a lower limit and those limits will be determined by your organization’s goals. The outliers will be the extreme values, values that are so far outside of the normal distribution that it is unlikely they will be reproduced.
Interpreting your data is just as important as gathering it, so choose carefully and with purpose. Talk to your belt and use that advice to help you find the best method for your organization.
In this blog we have talked about a lot about the tools used in a change project, but I think that it is time we talk about the information that drives the project-the statistics. The old adage is that the numbers never lie, but when you work with statistics you know that is a relative statement. The numbers can and do lie, usually it comes down to interpretation. So here are some basic things to remember when looking at the statistics your change project will provide.
- Understand that statistics are the foundations of 6Sigma, when you don’t understand a tool remember that everyone participating in a 6Sigma project will understand the statistics.
- The purpose of a statistic is to give you a numerical value for the information collected and analyzed. In other words when you measure something the statistics tell you why the measurement is important.
- The measurements give you a place to start from, whether that is a place to improve or a place to maintain. (Of course in continuous improvement, there is no place to maintain! Always improve!)
- Statistics serve as a common denominator, like everything else they can be taken to the extreme but they create a common language and equalize knowledge. Everyone can know and understand the same thing based on the numbers. Statistics can eliminate personality flaws, individual perception and provide your team with a singular focus.
- The single most important purpose of statistics is the ability to create a new group of problem solvers. Once the group has a common goal they can then began brainstorming for innovative solutions thanks to the data. So numbers=innovation!
As with all things 6Sigma the difficulty level lies within the practitioner. If you want a bunch of charts and reports that can only be interpreted by the consultant, you can find that. If you want to understand how the numbers can help you, give us a call and we will get you started.
This week we will continue our discussion on process mapping, I promise it will not go on forever, but it does have a lot of intricacies. Many people think that process mapping is just putting some shapes on a diagram, but it means much more than that. There are 3 levels of process mapping that are commonly accepted among the 6Sigma crowd.
Level 1 –The Macro Process Map
This is typically how management views the processes of the organization; it’s a big picture, future strategy kind of view. It also creates the ability for management to see how to position the organization or resources in a way that complements the product/service being created. This is a high-level map which generally includes:
- Activities that relate to one major process step
- How the process fits into the big picture
- Little specific detail
- Visualizes only major process steps
- Can be used with only a general understanding of the purpose of the process and its steps.
Level 2-Process Map
This is the worker bee process map, where the people who have specific knowledge of the process come in. This is the map that is used to identify all the major steps a worker takes to complete a process. Within Level 2, there are 4 types of process maps:
- Linear Flow- A straight line from beginning to end.
- Swim Lane-shows you who is responsible for what task.
- SIPOC-a little more complicated. It takes five areas: your suppliers, your inputs, your process, your outputs and your customers.
- Value Stream-a specific map that helps to visualize and understand the metrics for the performance of major steps.
Level 3-Process Flow Diagram
Level 3 is not a must because this is a micro process map. It is where you zero in on a specific area and focus on the steps in the process that are causing whatever challenge you are having. When beginning this level you need to ask the following questions:
- Which steps contributed to the problem?
- Where would the problem most likely have occurred?
- Are there elements to the product/service that lend itself to the problem?
These questions help you find the focus that you decided in your problem statement. For this to work you will have to break each step in the process down, most easily using SIPOC. Remember a Level 3 map should include:
- All process flows
- Any set points
- Any standard or automated procedures
- Inputs and outputs (specify if the are controllable or non-controllable)
- Defects per unit
- Yield and rolled throughput yield
- Value and non value added activities
It’s a lot of information, but mapping a process is a fundamental step in your improvement project. It is absolutely critical that you get it right. For more help or more information, give us a call and we will be happy to get you started.