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# 4/23/2019 6.1.6. What is Process Capability?

## 6. Process or Product Monitoring and Control

6.1. Introduction

## Process capability compares the output of an in-control process to the specification

limits by using capability indices. The comparison is made by forming the ratio of
the spread between the process specifications (the specification "width") to the spread
of the process values, as measured by 6 process standard deviation units (the process
"width").

## Process Capability Indices

A process We are often required to compare the output of a stable process with the process
capability specifications and make a statement about how well the process meets specification.
index uses To do this we compare the natural variability of a stable process with the process
both the specification limits.
process
variability A process where almost all the measurements fall inside the specification limits is a
and the capable process. This can be represented pictorially by the plot below:
process
specifications
to determine
whether the
process is
"capable"

There are several statistics that can be used to measure the capability of a process: Cp

, C , and C .
pk pm

Most capability indices estimates are valid only if the sample size used is "large
enough". Large enough is generally thought to be about 50 independent data values.

The C , C , and C statistics assume that the population of data values is normally
p pk pm

distributed. Assuming a two-sided specification, if μ and σ are the mean and standard
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4/23/2019 6.1.6. What is Process Capability?

deviation, respectively, of the normal data and USL, LSL, and T are the upper and
lower specification limits and the target value, respectively, then the population
capability indices are defined as follows.

Definitions of
various Cp =
USL − LSL

process 6σ

capability
indices C pk = min [
USL − μ
,
μ − LSL
]
3σ 3σ

USL − LSL
C pm =
−−−−−−−−−−−
6√σ 2 + (μ − T )2

Sample Sample estimators for these indices are given below. (Estimators are indicated with a
estimates of "hat" over them).
capability
indices ^
Cp =
USL − LSL

6s

USL − x̄ x̄ − LSL
^
C pk = min [ , ]
3s 3s

USL − LSL
^
C pm =
−−−−− −−−−−−
6√s 2 + (x̄ − T )2

## The estimator for C can also be expressed as C = C (1 − k), where k is a

pk pk p

scaled distance between the midpoint of the specification range, m, and the process
mean, μ .

## Denote the midpoint of the specification range by m = (USL + LSL)/2 . The

distance between the process mean, μ , and the optimum, which is m, is μ − m,
where m ≤ μ ≤ LSL. The scaled distance is

|m − μ|
k = , 0 ≤ k ≤ 1.
(USL − LSL)/2

(The absolute sign takes care of the case when LSL ≤ μ ≤ m). To determine the
estimated value, k
^
, we estimate μ by x̄. Note that x̄ ≤ USL.

## The estimator for the C index, adjusted by the k factor, is

p

^ ^ ^
C pk = C p (1 − k ) .

## Since 0 ≤ k ≤ 1 , it follows that C^ pk

^
≤ Cp .

Plot showing To get an idea of the value of the C statistic for varying process widths, consider the
p

C for
p following plot.
varying

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process
widths

## This can be expressed numerically by the table below:

Translating
USL − LSL 6σ 8σ 10σ 12σ
capability into
"rejects" Cp 1.00 1.33 1.66 2.00
Rejects 0.27 % 64 ppm 0.6 ppm 2 ppb
% of spec used 100 75 60 50

where ppm = parts per million and ppb = parts per billion. Note that the reject figures
are based on the assumption that the distribution is centered at μ .

We have discussed the situation with two spec. limits, the USL and LSL. This is
known as the bilateral or two-sided case. There are many cases where only the lower
or upper specifications are used. Using one spec limit is called unilateral or one-
sided. The corresponding capability indices are

One-sided
specifications C pu =
=
USL − μ

## and the actual upper spread 3σ

corresponding
capability and
indices
allowable lower spread μ − LSL
C pl = = ,

where μ and σ are the process mean and standard deviation, respectively.

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pu pl

C pu + C pl
Cp = .
2

## Note that we also can write:

C pk = min(C pl , C pu ) .

## Confidence Limits For Capability Indices

Confidence Assuming normally distributed process data, the distribution of the sample C^ p

intervals for
indices follows from a Chi-square distribution and and ^
have distributions related to
C pu
^
C pl

## the non-central t distribution. Fortunately, approximate confidence limits related to

the normal distribution have been derived. Various approximations to the distribution
of C^ have been proposed, including those given by Bissell (1990), and we will use
pk

a normal approximation.

The resulting formulas for 100(1 − α)% confidence limits are given below.

## Confidence Limits for C are p

^ ^
P r{C p (L1 ) ≤ C p ≤ C p (L2 )} = 1 − α ,

where

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−− −− −−
2
χ
α/2, ν
L1 = √ ,
ν

−−−−−−−
2
χ
1−α/2, ν
L2 = √ ,
ν

## and ν = degrees of freedom.

Confidence Approximate 100(1 − α) % confidence limits for C pu with sample size n are:
Intervals for
−−−−−−−−−−−−
C pu and C pl

 ^
2

C pu
^  1
C pu (lower) = C pu − z 1−β +
⎷ 9n
2(n − 1)

and
−−−−−−−−−−−−
 2
 ^
C pu
^  1
C pu (upper) = C pu + z 1−α + ,
⎷ 9n
2(n − 1)

with z denoting the percent point function of the standard normal distribution. If β is
not known, set it to α .

## Limits for C are obtained by replacing C^

pl pu by C^ .pl

Confidence Zhang et al. (1990) derived the exact variance for the estimator of C as well as an pk

Interval for approximation for large n . The reference paper is Zhang, Stenback and Wardrop
Cpk
(1990), "Interval Estimation of the process capability index," Communications in
Statistics: Theory and Methods, 19(21), 4455-4470.

## The variance is obtained as follows.

Let
−−
c = √ n [μ − (USL + LSL)/2] σ

d = (USL − LSL)/σ

−c
1 2
Φ(−c) = ∫ exp −5z dz .
−−
−inf √ 2π

Then

^
V ar(C pk )

2
= (d /36)(n − 1)(n − 3)

−− −− 2
−(d/9√ n )(n − 1)(n − 3){√ 2π exp (−c /2) + c[1 − 2Φ(−c)]}

2
+[(1/9)(n − 1)/(n(n − 3))](1 + c )

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Γ((n − 2)/2)
2
−[(n − 1)/(72n)]{ }
Γ((n − 1)/2)

−− −− 2 2
∗{d√ n − 2√ 2π exp (−c /2) − 2c[1 − 2Φ(−c)]} .

## Their approximation is given by:

n − 1 Γ((n − 2)/2)
2
^
V ar(C pk ) = − 0.5{ } ,
n − 3 Γ((n − 1)/2)

where

## The following approximation is commonly used in practice

−−−−−−−−−−−−
 2
 ^
1 C pk
^ 
C pk = C pk ± z 1−α/2 + .
⎷ 9n
2(n − 1)

It is important to note that the sample size should be at least 25 before these
approximations are valid. In general, however, we need n ≥ 100 for capability
studies. Another point to observe is that variations are not negligible due to the
randomness of capability indices.

## Capability Index Example

An example For a certain process the USL = 20 and the LSL = 8. The observed process
average, x̄ ≥ 16, and the standard deviation, s = 2. From this we obtain

USL − LSL 20 − 8
^
Cp = = = 1.0 .
6s 6(2)

This means that the process is capable as long as it is located at the midpoint,
m = (USL + LSL)/2 = 14.

## But it doesn't, since x̄ ≥ 16 . The k

^
factor is found by

|m − x̄| 2
^
k = = = 0.3333
(USL − LSL)/2 6

and

^ ^ ^
C pk = C p (1 − k ) = 0.6667 .

We would like to have C^ at least 1.0, so this is not a good process. If possible,
pk

reduce the variability or/and center the process. We can compute the C^ and C^ pu pl

using

USL − x̄ 20 − 16
^
C pu = = = 0.6667
3s 3(2)

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and

x̄ − LSL 16 − 8
^
C pl = = = 1.3333 .
3s 3(2)

From this we see that the C^ , which is the smallest of the above indices, is 0.6667.
pu

## Note that the formula C^ = C^ (1 − k

pk
^
) is the algebraic equivalent of the
p

^
min(C ^
pu , C pl ) definition.

## What happens if the process is not approximately normally distributed?

What you can The indices that we considered thus far are based on normality of the process
do with non- distribution. This poses a problem when the process distribution is not normal.
normal data Without going into the specifics, we can list some remedies.

## 1. Transform the data so that they become approximately normal. A popular

transformation is the Box-Cox transformation

## 2. Use or develop another set of indices, that apply to nonnormal distributions.

Non-parameteric versions (Pearn, Tai, Hsiao, and Ao (2014) and Chen and
Ding (2001)) of the C , C , and C capability indices are denoted by C ,
p pk pm np

## Cnpk , and C . Estimators for these non-parameteric capability indices are

npm

calculated by

^ USL−LSL
C np =
p(0.99865)−p(0.00135)

min[USL−median,median−LSL]
^
C npk =
(p(0.99865)−p(0.00135))/2

^ USL−LSL
C npm =
2
p(0.99865)−p(0.00135) 2
6√ ( ) +(median−T)
6

where p(0.99855) is the 99.865th percentile of the data and p(0.00135) is the
0.135th percentile of the data. The use of these percentiles is justified to mimic
the coverage of ±3 standard deviations for the normal distribution. Note that
some sources may use 99% coverage. For example, the C statistic may be npk

given as

^ USL−median median−LSL
C npk = min [ , ]
p(0.995)−median median−p(0.005)

where p(0.995) is the 99.5th percentile of the data and p(0.005) is the 0.5th
percentile of the data.

## For additional information on nonnormal distributions, see Johnson and Kotz

(1993).

There is, of course, much more that can be said about the case of nonnormal data.
However, if a Box-Cox transformation can be successfully performed, one is
encouraged to use it.

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