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Statistical Thinking: Improving Business Performance, Second Edition by Ron Snee, Roger Hoerl

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Chapter 5

Process Improvement and Problem-Solving Tools

If you have an opportunity to make things better and you don’t, you’re wasting your time.

—Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Team)

Chapter 4 illustrated three specific frameworks for applying statistical engineering: (1) the process improvement framework, (2) the problem-solving framework, and (3) the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC) framework. In this chapter, we present the individual tools used in these approaches. The main learning objective is to develop the functional capability to apply these tools to real applications of process improvement or problem solving. You should apply these tools to your own project to gain experience and successfully complete your project. To understand how each tool fits into the bigger picture, we discuss when and why each tool should be applied. These tools are frequently applied as part of the process improvement, problem-solving, or DMAIC frameworks, but they can also be applied as stand-alones—that is, separate from the use of any of these frameworks.

Figure 5.1 is a diagram of the tools that are presented in this chapter, showing how they fit together in logical groupings and the way they are typically integrated. The major categories are data collection tools, basic graphical analysis tools, knowledge-based tools, and process stability and capability tools. Basic graphical tools are then broken out into those for plotting an individual variable and ...

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