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Reducing manufacturing process variability using

experimental design technique: a case study

Jiju Antony
University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
Michael Hughes
University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
Mike Kaye
University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK

Design of experiments, Introduction Benefits of using experimental
Optimization, Process efficiency, design methods
Taguchi methods Experimental design is a powerful approach
to product and process development, and for Experimental design methods have intensive
Abstract improving the yield and stability of an application in the engineering design and
Experimental design is a powerful
ongoing manufacturing process (Montgom- development environment. Potential appli-
technique for understanding a
ery, 1992). It is a discipline that applies cations include product design optimisation,
process, studying the impact of
potential variables affecting a statistics to the experimental process. It was analysis of basic design configurations,
process and providing sponta- first introduced and developed by Sir Ronald material selection, selection of component
neous insight for continuous qual- Fisher in the early 1920s to study the effect of tolerances and process optimisation. The
ity improvement possibilities. It following are the typical benefits gained by
has proved to be very effective for
several variables simultaneously on the out-
improving the process yield, pro- come. In his early applications, Fisher many experimenters and researchers from
cess performance and reducing wanted to determine the effect of factors such the application of experimental design meth-
process variability. A number of as rain, water, fertilizer, sunshine, etc., on ods:
successful applications of the ex- . reduced product development time;
perimental design technique for
the final condition of the crop (Sirvanci and
Durmaz, 1993). His methods for effective
. assistance to achieve better process
process optimisation have been
reported by both US and European experimentation were a fundamental break design to assure final product quality;
manufacturers over the last ten from the old scientific tradition of varying
. improved customer satisfaction with the
years. This paper illustrates an
only one-factor-at-a-time approach to experi- product;
application of Taguchi methods . reduced excessive variability in both the
(TM) in an industrial setting for mentation. Since that time, much develop-
identifying the critical factors ment of the technique has taken place in the product and process performance;
affecting a certain process and academic environment, but not many appli-
. assistance in discovering a set of process
subsequently reducing process
cations in the manufacturing environment. variables which are most influential on
variability. Both the analysis of the process output;
variance (ANOVA) on mean re- Dr Taguchi carried out significant research
. reduced product and process development
sponse and the signal-to-noise with experimental design techniques in the
ratio (SNR) have been carried out early 1950s. His effort has been to make this costs;
for determining the optimal condi- . reduced product and process sensitivity to
powerful experimental design technique
tion of the process. A significant environmental and manufacturing varia-
improvement in the process per- more user-friendly and apply to improve the
formance was observed in terms of quality of both products and manufacturing . helped to determine the optimal factor
variation reduction. processes (Goh, 1993). Taguchi developed
settings for better process performance;
both a philosophy and a methodology for . assistance with the development of new
continuous quality improvement based on
processes and manufacturing technology;
statistical concepts, especially experimental . improved process yield, product reliabil-
design techniques. A number of successful
ity and process capability.
applications of the Taguchi method for pro-
The authors would like to cess optimisation have been reported by both
thank the two anonymous US and European manufacturers over a
referees for their valuable decade (Antony and Kaye, 1996; Quinlan,
Case study
and useful comments on
earlier draft of this paper. 1985). Experimental design methodology The following case study was performed in a
based on Taguchi has accentuated the im- certain manufacturing organisation with the
portance of reducing process variability aim of reducing variability around the target
around a specified target value and then for a core process. Owing to the non-disclo-
Integrated Manufacturing
bringing the process mean on target. This sure agreement between the company and
Systems can be accomplished only by making pro- the authors, certain information relating to
10/3 [1999] 162±169 cesses insensitive to various sources of noise the company cannot be revealed in detail.
# MCB University Press and the method is called robust parameter Nevertheless, the data which has been col-
[ISSN 0957-6061]
design (Phadke, 1989). lected from the experiment is real and has
[ 162 ]
Jiju Antony, Michael Hughes not been modified as a consequence of this Step 4: choice of an orthogonal array (OA)
and Mike Kaye agreement. The case study was carried out by design
Reducing manufacturing
process variability using following the steps described in the Taguchi For this study, seven independent factors
experimental design methodology (Antony and Kaye, 1995). were thought to have some impact on the
technique: a case study response (i.e. expulsion force). As part of the
Integrated Manufacturing Step 1: objective/goal of the experiment initial investigation of the process, each
10/3 [1999] 162±169 The objective of the experiment was to factor was kept at two levels. A full factorial
determine the most important factors affect- experiment would require a total of 128 (i.e.
ing a critical quality characteristic (or re- 27) experimental runs. This was not reason-
sponse) and subsequently reducing able and feasible design, as the cost of the
variability in response around the target experiment and time needed to complete the
value. experiment would be extraordinarily high.
Owing to the limited budget and because the
Step 2: selection of the quality top management needed a quick response to
characteristic (or response) the experimental investigation, it was
Having identified the objective of the experi- decided to use Taguchi's orthogonal array
ment, the next step was to identify an (OA) design. The choice of an OA (Ross, 1988)
appropriate response for the experiment. The depends on the number of degrees of freedom
response of interest to the experimenter was required for studying the main and interac-
expulsion force. Here expulsion force is the tion effects. Moreover, the experimenter was
force required to expel the component or interested in reducing the number of vari-
device under study from a certain tube. ables to a manageable number so that further
smaller experiments can be carried out to
Step 3: identification of control, noise and study the interactions among the factors.
signal factors As seven main effects (each at two levels)
The classification of factors (Taguchi, 1987) are to be studied, the number of degrees of
for the experiment was achieved by a freedom required for the experiment must be
thorough brainstorming session with people greater than seven. The closest number of
from production, quality control and shop- experimental trials (from the standard OAs)
floor. Seven control factors were thought to which will satisfy this objective is an L8 OA
have some impact on expulsion force. Control (Taguchi and Konishi, 1987).
factors are those which can be controlled
under normal production conditions. No Step 5: experimental preparation
noise factors or signal factors were identified In this step, the main task was to construct
for the experiment. Noise factors are those the uncoded and coded design matrices for
the experiment and analysis of results
which causes variation in the functional
respectively. The coded and uncoded design
performance of products/processes. Signal
matrices are shown in Tables II and III,
factors are those which affect only the mean
performance of the process. As this is the
Having constructed the design matrices, the
first Taguchi experiment performed on the
next step was to run the experiment according
forementioned quality characteristic, inter-
to the prepared matrix. It was decided to
actions were of no interest to the experi-
conduct the experiment in the standard order
menter. In other words, the objective of the
(see Table II). Moreover, the sample size for
experiment was to reduce the number of
each experimental design point was ten. In
factors to a manageable subset of important other words, ten parts were made according to
factors. This is called a ``screening experi- the factor settings in each trial.
ment'' in the context of experimental design.
Dingus (1989) and Quinlan (1985) provide Step 6: experimental run
excellent references for screening experi- The experiment was conducted based on the
ments. design matrix and the response values were
As part of the initial investigation of the recorded on a data sheet for analysis. The
process under study, it was decided to study resulting response table is shown in Table IV.
all factors at two levels. Here, the ``level''
refers to a specified setting of a factor. For Step 7: statistical analysis and
example, in the present case study, the type interpretation of results
of material is a factor and ``material X'' and As the objective is to reduce the variability in
``material Y'' are the two levels. The list of expulsion force and to bring the mean
control factors and their levels are shown in expulsion force as close as possible to the
Table I. All the factors which were thought to target (target being equal to 275gm), both the
influence the expulsion force are basically ANOVA on the mean response and the signal-
machine related. to-noise ratio (SNR) have been carried out.
[ 163 ]
Jiju Antony, Michael Hughes SNR is a measure of the performance varia- characteristic of products/processes prior
and Mike Kaye bility of products/processes in the presence to shifting the mean onto the desired
Reducing manufacturing target.
process variability using of noise factors. The idea is to maximise the
experimental design SNR and thereby minimise the effect of noise . Stage 2. Identify an adjustment factor
technique: a case study factors. ANOVA is a powerful statistical which has a significant effect on the mean
Integrated Manufacturing technique used for sub-dividing the total response, but no effect on the SNR. Use
10/3 [1999] 162±169 variation into useful and meaningful compo- this adjustment factor to bring the mean
nents of variation (Antony and Antony, 1998). response as close as possible to the target.
In Taguchi experiments, ANOVA is used to Based on the above two steps, it was decided
pin point the key sources of variation. Since to calculate the SNR for each experimental
expulsion force is a nominal-the-best type of design point. The SNR for nominal-the-best
quality characteristic, it was decided to quality characteristic (Logothetis, 1992) is
employ the two-step optimisation procedure calculated by the equation:
recommended by Taguchi (Taguchi and  2

Yokohama, 1993): SNR ˆ 10 log
. Stage 1. Identify those factor effects which
have a significant effect on the SNR. Select
the factor levels that maximise the SNR. Sample calculation for Trial 1
The idea is to identify those effects which †=
Mean response …y 983.10
affect the variation. It is important to Sample standard deviation (s) = 258.38
reduce variation in the performance Substitute the values into the above equa-
tion, we get, SNR = 11.60 The SNR values
Table I for eight experimental trials are shown in
List of control factors for the experiment Table V.
Factors Factor labels Level 1 Level 2 Having obtained the SNR values, the next
step was to obtain the average response
Type of material (A) Material X Material Y
values of SNR at low and high levels of each
Drum temperature (B) 84 104
factor and hence the effect of each factor on
Machine alignment (C) 134 130
the SNR. The results are shown in Table VI.
Position of the cam (D) Forward Backward
Table VI shows that factors B and D have
Clearance (E) 0.006 0.012
dominant effect on the SNR, followed by
Time (F) 68 72
factors E, G, F, A and C. The main effects plot
Header temperature (G) 190 210
for the SNR is shown in Figure 1.

Table II
Uncoded design matrix for the experiment
number A B C D E F G
1 Material X 84 134 Forward 0.006 68 190
2 Material X 84 134 Backward 0.012 72 210
3 Material X 104 130 Forward 0.006 72 210
4 Material X 104 130 Backward 0.012 68 190
5 Material Y 84 130 Forward 0.012 68 210
6 Material Y 84 130 Backward 0.006 72 190
7 Material Y 104 134 Forward 0.012 72 190
8 Material Y 104 134 Backward 0.006 68 210

Table III
Coded design matrix for the experiment
Trial number A B C D E F G
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 1 1 1 2 2 2 2
3 1 2 2 1 1 2 2
4 1 2 2 2 2 1 1
5 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
6 2 1 2 2 1 2 1
7 2 2 1 1 2 2 1
8 2 2 1 2 1 1 2

[ 164 ]
Jiju Antony, Michael Hughes Table IV
and Mike Kaye Response table
Reducing manufacturing
process variability using Trial
experimental design
technique: a case study number Expulsion force
Integrated Manufacturing 1 990 1,037 748 1,113 637 1,577 860 818 965 1,086
Systems 2 906 875 638 959 748 807 710 600 525 509
10/3 [1999] 162±169
3 767 578 327 733 653 881 924 583 604 873
4 626 683 669 605 749 760 526 694 632 620
5 549 504 741 566 979 455 468 646 430 468
6 878 540 818 607 1,256 787 953 845 1,168 1,061
7 421 351 350 415 307 508 465 419 596 446
8 691 675 771 940 640 1,053 856 743 587 817

Table V have significant impact on the mean re-

Table for calculated SNR values sponse (Antony and Kaye, 1997). The average
response values at each level of the factors
Experimental run SNR
and their effects are presented in Table VIII.
1 11.60 Having computed the estimates of the
2 13.20 factor effects, it was decided to construct a
3 11.59 main effects plot of the factors. A main effects
4 19.44 plot will provide a visual representation of
5 10.64 the importance of the factor effects. Figure 2
6 11.84 illustrates the main effects plot of the factors.
7 14.14 Figure 2 shows that factors E and B have
8 14.68 significant impact on the mean response (i.e.
mean expulsion force). This will be followed
Figure 1 shows that the most dominant factor by factors A, D, F, G and C. The pooled
effects are B and D, followed by factor effects E, ANOVA table is shown in Table IX.
G, F, A and C. In order to obtain the statistical The ANOVA table has also shown that the
significance of the effects, ANOVA for the SNR most dominant factor effects are E and B.
was performed. The pooled ANOVA table is Having identified the significant factor ef-
shown in Table VII. Pooling is a method of fects, the next step was to determine the
combining the effects with low sum of squares optimal settings of these factors which will
in magnitude in order to obtain a reasonable bring the mean response as close as possible
estimate of the error variance. The rule of to the target. The optimum condition (i.e. the
thumb is to pool the effects with low sum of best control factor settings) based on the
squares till the error degrees of freedom is mean response (refer to Table VIII) was:
nearly half the total degrees of freedom A2B2C2D1E2F2G2
(Logothetis and Wynn, 1989).
The ANOVA table has shown that the most Here factor A is an adjustment factor as it
dominant factor effects are B and D. Having only influences the mean expulsion force and
identified the significant factor effects, the not variability in expulsion force. Factors C,
next step was to determine the optimal F and G have no significant impact on either
settings of these factors which will maximise mean response or response variability. The
the SNR. The optimum condition (i.e., the final selection of the levels of these insignif-
best control factor settings) based on the SNR icant factors have been made based on
(refer to Table VI) was: economic grounds.
A1B2C1D2E2F1G1 As there was trade-off in the factor levels
Having performed the SNR analysis, the next (based on the analysis of the SNR and mean
step was to identify those factor effects which response), it was decided to perform the

Table VI
Average SNR table
Factors Average SNR at level 1 Average SNR at level 2 Effect of the factor
A 13.95 12.82 ±1.13
B 11.81 14.96 3.15
C 13.40 13.38 ±0.02
D 11.99 14.79 2.80
E 12.42 14.35 1.93
F 14.08 12.69 ±1.39
G 14.25 12.53 ±1.72

[ 165 ]
Jiju Antony, Michael Hughes loss-function analysis for nominal-the-best the standard deviation was constructed. This
and Mike Kaye (NTB) quality characteristics (Schimdt and model is based on the effects which have a
Reducing manufacturing Launsby, 1992), in order to arrive at the final significant impact on the log S. Factors B and
process variability using
experimental design optimal factor settings. The optimal factor E were appeared to influence the log S. It is
technique: a case study settings is the one which yields minimum important to note that the log S of the
Integrated Manufacturing quality loss. In order to perform the loss- observations often tend to be normally dis-
Systems function analysis, the first step was to tributed whereas the standard deviations (S)
10/3 [1999] 162±169
develop a mathematical model for the mean of the observations do not generally follow a
response (denoted by y ^). The model is derived normal distribution (Lochner and Matar,
using the significant effects obtained from 1990). The mathematical model for the log
the ANOVA on mean response. The equation standard deviation (log ^ S)is given by:
is basically a linear combination of regres- ^ S ˆ 2:171 ÿ 0:1225B ÿ 0:13E
sion coefficients. The model for the mean
response is given by: Having determined the mathematical models
for the mean response and standard devia-
^ ˆ 717:0625 ÿ 47:815A ÿ 78:615B ‡ 46:115D
tion, it was decided to calculate the average
ÿ 118:94E 
loss function L…y† for each experimental
In the above model, the coefficients of A, B, D design point based on the factor effects which
and E are half of the estimate of the factor have significant effect on either mean re-
effects. Similarly, a mathematical model for sponse or response variability.
Sample calculation
Figure 1
For making the computations simpler, we
Main effects plot for the SNR
replace level 1 or low level by (±1) and that of
level 2 or high level by (+1).
For run 7:
^ ˆ 717:0625 ÿ 47:815A ÿ 78:615B ‡ 46:115D
ÿ 118:94E
ˆ 717:0625 ÿ 47:815…‡1† ÿ 78:615…‡1†
‡ 46:115…ÿ1† ÿ 118:94…‡1†
ˆ 425:58
^ S ˆ 2:171 ÿ 0:1225B ÿ 0:13E
ˆ 2:171 ÿ 0:1225…‡1† ÿ 0:13…‡1†
ˆ 1:92
: ^
: :S ˆ 83:18
 ^ 2 ‡ …y
L…y† ˆ k:‰S ^ ÿ T†2 Š
ˆ k:‰83:182 ‡ …425:58 ÿ 275†2 Š
ˆ k:‰29593Š
Table X summarises the results.

Table VII
Pooled ANOVA for the SNR
Source of
variation Degree of freedom Sum of squares Mean square F-ratio Percent contribution ()
A [1] 2.53 2.53 ± ±
B 1 19.84 19.84 9.27* 32.0
C [1] 0.000831 0.000831 ± ±
D 1 15.71 15.71 7.34* 24.52
E 1 7.46 7.46 3.49 9.61
F [1] 3.88 3.88 ± ±
G 1 5.93 5.93 2.77 6.85
Pooled error 3 6.411 2.14 ± 27.02
Total 7 55.34 7.91 ± 100.00
Notes: The parentheses show those factor effects which have been pooled 20 to obtain a reasonable estimate for
the error variance. Moreover, * shows that the factor effect is statistically significant at 90 per cent confidence
level. The tabled value of F-statistic at 90 per cent, 95 per cent and 99 per cent confidence levels are 5.54,
10.13 and 34.12, respectively

[ 166 ]
Jiju Antony, Michael Hughes Table VIII
and Mike Kaye Table for average response values and effects of factors
Reducing manufacturing
process variability using Mean response at Mean response at
experimental design
technique: a case study Factors level 1 level 2 Effect
Integrated Manufacturing A 764.88 669.25 ±95.63
Systems B 795.68 638.45 ±157.23
10/3 [1999] 162±169
C 728.98 705.15 ±23.83
D 670.95 763.18 92.23
E 836.00 598.12 ±237.88
F 749.35 684.78 ±64.57
G 739.65 694.48 ±45.17

From Table X, run 7 (represented in function analysis was therefore obtained

bold) yields the minimum loss. The as:
optimal factor settings based on the loss- A 2 B2 D 1 E 2

The final optimal factor settings were

Figure 2 therefore
Main effects plot for the mean response
A2 B2 C2 D1 E2 F2 G2

Predicted mean response at the optimal

The predicted mean response at the optimal
condition is estimated only from the signifi-
cant main or interaction effects. The selec-
tion of factor levels to be used in the
prediction equation is dependent on the
nature of chosen quality characteristic for
the experiment. For the present study, the
main factor effects which have significant
impact on the mean response were A, B, D
and E. The predicted mean response based on
the optimal factor levels of A, B, D and E is
given by (Roy, 1990):
 2 ÿ T†
 ‡ …A
^ ˆ T  ‡ …B 2 ÿ T†
 ‡ …D
 1 ÿ T†

 2 ÿ T†
‡ …E 


Table IX
Pooled ANOVA for the mean response
Source of
variation Degree of Sum of Mean Percent
freedom squares square F-ratio contribution
A 1 182,882.81 182,882.81 6.02** 3.58
B 1 494,394.01 494,394.01 16.28*** 10.90
C [1] 11,352.61 11,352.61 ± ±
D 1 170109.01 170109.01 5.60** 3.28
E 1 1,131,690.31 1,131,690.31 37.27*** 25.88
F [1] 83,398.61 83,398.61 ± ±
G [1] 40,815.61 40,815.61 ± ±
error 75 2,277,144.54 30,361.93 ± 56.36
Total 79 4,256,220.69 53,876.21 ± 100.00
Notes: F0.1, 1,75 = 2.78, F0.05, 1,75 = 3.98 and F0.01, 1,75 = 7.01. Moreover, *** shows that a factor is significant
at 90 per cent, 95 per cent and 99 per cent confidence levels, ** shows that a factor is significant at 90 per
cent and 95 per cent confidence levels

[ 167 ]
Jiju Antony, Michael Hughes Table X
and Mike Kaye Loss-function analysis
Reducing manufacturing
process variability using Run A B D E y^ log^S S^ L (y)
experimental design
technique: a case study 1 1 1 1 1 916.32 2.42 263.03 k . [480476]
Integrated Manufacturing 2 1 1 2 2 770.67 2.16 144.54 k . [266580]
Systems 3 1 2 1 1 759.09 2.42 263.03 k . [303528]
10/3 [1999] 162±169
4 1 2 2 2 613.44 1.92 83.18 k . [121461]
5 2 1 1 2 582.81 2.15 141.25 k . [115639]
6 2 1 2 1 820.69 2.42 263.03 k . [366962]
7 2 2 1 2 425.58 1.92 83.18 k . [29593]
8 2 2 2 1 755.69 2.18 151.36 k . [253973]
Note: ``k'' is a constant used in loss-function analysis and is generally called the quality loss coefficient

^ = predicted mean response at the optimal of factor levels lies within the confidence
condition limits or not. If conclusive results are
T = overall mean of all observations in the obtained from the confirmation run, a spe-
data. cific action on the product/process may be
^ ˆ 717:0625 ‡ …669:25 ÿ 717:0625† taken for improvement.
‡ …638:45 ÿ 717:0625†
Step 8: confirmation run
‡ …670:95 ÿ 717:0625† Ten samples were produced under the opti-
‡ …598:12 ÿ 717:0625† mal conditions. The results are shown in
ˆ 669:25 ‡ 638:45 ‡ 670:95 ‡ 598:12 Table XI. The mean expulsion force from the
ÿ 3:…717:0625† confirmation run was estimated as 345.2gms.
ˆ 425:5825 This value lies in the predicted range of
425.5825 ‹ 115.34 and therefore the experi-
ment was concluded to be satisfactory and
Confidence interval for the predicted mean valid.
The confidence interval for the predicted Comparison of results ± before and after
mean response at the optimal condition is experimentation
given by: Ten samples were taken from the standard
s production settings and sample standard
F… ;1;2 † :MSE deviation was estimated. The standard de-
CI ˆ ^ 
Ne viation at the standard condition was esti-
mated to be 140.30gms. The sample standard
where: deviation at the optimal condition was esti-
MSE = error variance mated to be 66.38gms. The reduction in
F… ;1;2 † = Tabled value of F with one degree of standard deviation was therefore computed
freedom for the numerator and 2 as approximately 53 per cent.
degrees of freedom for the error
Ne = effective number of replications
Significance of the work
For the present study, MSE = 30361.93, Ne = This section describes the significance of the
80/(1 + 4) = 16 experimental work to the company. Owing to
Therefore, the 99 per cent confidence inter-
val for the mean expulsion force is given by:
r Table XI
…7:01†  …30361:93† Results from the confirmation run
99 per cent CI ˆ 425:5825 
16 Sample Expulsion force
ˆ 425:5825  115:34
1 328
Therefore the result at the optimal condition 2 312
is 425.5825 ‹ 115.34 at the 99 per cent 3 371
confidence level. Having determined the 4 198
confidence level for the predicted mean 5 350
response, it is good practice to conduct a 6 333
confirmation experiment or run (Taguchi, 7 445
1987). The confirmation experiment/run is 8 414
used to verify whether the predicted mean 9 373
response based on the optimal combination 10 328

[ 168 ]
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