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Process Capability Overview

by Sharon K. Rabeneck

Process Capability refers to the ability of a process to perform


to the target and specifications set out for it. A viable and
valuable tool, Process Capability is likely to be an integral
aspect of customer requirements and certain to be a
competitive discriminator.
Definitions and Principles
Short Term Process Capability is referred to as Cp, which
is the Process Capability Index. The short-term (within)
distribution represents the process variation over short periods
of time and does not include shift and drift.

Long Term Process Capability is referred to as Pp, which


is called the Long Term Process Capability Index. The
long-term (overall) distribution represents the process variation
over longer periods of time and captures all the variation in the
process including the shift and drift.

If we look at how close the short-term process distribution


mean is to the closest process specification, we are measuring
Cpk, a Process Capability index that measures process
centering.

Likewise, if we look at how close the long-term (overall) process


distribution mean is to the closest process specification, we are
measuring Ppk, an index that measures long-term (overall)
process centering.

The principle associated with all process capability indices is to relate the
performance of a process to the requirements for that process. There will be
adaptations based on long or short term and centering, but the principle remains the
same throughout all of the applications.

The reason we need to have 6 sigma between the process target (nominal) and the
closest specification limit is to preclude the production of defective material (3.4
PPM) if the process shifts 1.5 sigma.
Process shift from short to long term has the effect of widening the
distribution. Until we have actually measured process shift and drift, and have
specific information to the contrary, we assume it to be 1.5 sigma. In fact, historical
empirical information supports the assumption of drift = 1.5.
Process Capability cannot be improved by adding inspection. If the probability
of detecting a defect is 80% and there are 6 consecutive inspectors, about 64
escapes would be expected for each 1,000,000 defects produced.
If the probability of detecting a defect is 80%, it would require more than 7
consecutive inspectors to have a 6s level of confidence that a defect will be detected.
The Standard Normal Transform
The standard normal transform is the method we use to determine the location of
any point in a normal distribution with respect to the mean of that distribution. We
encounter this transform in all phases of projects and the Breakthrough Strategy.
The standard normal transform converts any normal data to the standard
normal so the Z table can be used. If we know Z then we can calculate s or vice
versa.

Using Z to Calculate Capability


If we have calculated Z for the short term and for the long term, it is a simple matter
to calculate Cp and Pp. Remember that the relationship between ZST and Cp is 3.