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Name: Eugene N Moss Date: 1/13/19

The Deming Funnel Experiment (rev 1_19)

Objectives

 Understand the impact of tampering on processes


 Become aware of common practices in industry that increase variation

Background on the Deming Funnel Experiment

The funnel experiment as described in Deming’s book, Out of the Crisis, (1986), shows the impact of “tampering” with
a process in an attempt to improve product output.

Tampering refers to the process of adjusting the equipment/process based on some sample measurement that has been
taken. Too often, the sample measurement’s deviation from some nominal value is merely common cause variation.
Only improving the process itself, to reduce the variation, will bring about improvements. Tampering often makes the
problem worse.

In the Deming Funnel Experiment, marbles are dropped from a funnel onto a piece of paper. A mark is made where
the marble rolls to after it hits the paper. Observations are collected under four adjustment rules. As described by
Deming, the rules are

1. “Leave the funnel fixed, aimed at the target, no adjustment.


2. “At drop k (k = 1, 2, 3, ...) the marble will come to rest at point zk, measured from the target. (In other words,
zk is the error at drop k.) Move the funnel the distance -zk from the last position. Memory 1.
3. “Set the funnel at each drop right over the spot zk, measured from the
target. No memory.
4. “Set the funnel at each drop right over the spot (zk) where it last came
to rest. No memory.”

Part 1. Understanding the rules

Open the funnel simulation at http://www.symphonytech.com/dfunnel.htm

Rule 1) The funnel is fixed, aimed at the target with no adjustments made. (All marbles dropped from same funnel
location.)

We are not reacting to the data we collect here, so intuitively, we may think that this will not give us the best results.
We do know that we can use this data to compare to the other methods.

Set the simulation to Rule 1 and the drop height to High.


Enter the number of drops: 150
Click on the run simulation button ►.

Watch the simulation as it runs and record the standard deviation. Run 2 more times at the same settings.

Rule 1 Run 1 Run 2 Run 3


Standard 10.77 10.57 9.74
Deviation

Click on the “Runs Summary” to see all three runs. Which of the following appear to be true about this process?

T/F The points appear to be random about the center (similar number of drops in every direction).
T/F This appears to be a stable process.
T/F The funnel never moved.
Rule 2) After a marble is dropped, the distance from the target is measured. The funnel is moved that distance (in the
opposite direction) from its last position. For example, if the marble hits ½ inch to the left of the target, the funnel is
moved ½ inch to the right of its current location.

To see Rule #2 demonstrated, you can click on the Explain, then Rule #2 to watch a slow motion demo.

Is it not reasonable to assume that if the funnel drops the ball off the target by a certain amount, moving the funnel the
opposite direction by the same amount will improve the results? Let’s try it.

Run the Rule 2 (high level) simulation for 150 drops. Run 3 times and record the final standard deviations.

Rule 2 Run 1 Run 2 Run 3


Standard 15.44 15.24 16.35
Deviation

Which of the following appear to be true about this process?

T/F The points appear to be random about the center (similar number of drops in every direction).
T/F This appears to be a stable process.
T/F The new location of the funnel was calculated based on the last location of the funnel.
T/F Compared to Rule #1, Rule #2 results in greater variation.

Rule 3.) After a marble is dropped, the distance from the target is measured. The funnel is moved that distance from
the initial target position. For example, if the marble hits ½ inch to the left of the target, the funnel is moved ½ inch to
the right of the initial target position.

If we weren’t keeping track of where our funnel was, as in Rule #2, this might be considered a good tactic. We are
reacting to the data we collect by making the adjustment based on the initial target position.

To see Rule #3 demonstrated, you can click on the Explain, then Rule #3 to watch a slow motion demo.

Run the Rule 3 simulation (high level) for 150 drops. Run 3 times and record the final standard deviations.

Rule 3 Run 1 Run 2 Run 3


Standard 36.12 143.22 58.59
Deviation

Which of the following appear to be true about this process?

T/F The process output varies more from the target the longer the simulation runs.
T/F The points appear to be random about the center (similar number of drops in every direction.
T/F This appears to be a stable process.
T/F The new location of the funnel was calculated based on the last location of the funnel.
Rule 4.) The funnel is reset over the spot where it last came to rest. If the marble hits ½ inch to the left of the target,
the funnel is moved to ½ inch left of the target.

As long as the funnel is dropping at a given point, it might make sense to set the funnel to that point. That way, the
setting and last drop are consistent.

To see Rule #4 demonstrated, you can click on the Explain, then Rule #4 to watch a slow motion demo.

Run the Rule #4 simulation (high level) (high level) for 150 drops. Run 4 times and record the final standard
deviations. (Due to the random nature of sampling, a couple of times when I have run this, it does not clearly
demonstrate the typical effect, so I added the 4th run) Observe the drops when running these.

Rule 4 Run 1 Run 2 Run 3 Run 4


Standard 122.57 94 39.11 133.54
Deviation

How would you describe the way in which the drop pattern arises?

The drops start in the center then begins to drift into one of the quadrants and as the simulation continues. The
pattern continues to spread further away from the target because the ball tends to fall away from the target and
if the funnel follows the ball location, the ball will continue to fall in the same direction (away from the target).

Which of the following appear to be true about this process?

T/F The points appear to be random about the center (similar number of drops in every direction).
T/F The more drops made, the larger the spread of the drops.
T/F This appears to be a stable process.
T/F The new location of the funnel was calculated based on the last location of the funnel.

Part 2. How does this apply?

Consider each of the following situations. In each case, state which rule is being followed and why you think the
practice follows that rule. Discuss whether the practice is good or not.

a. A company relies on its management hierarchy to inform its employees of upcoming policy changes. So the
President informs the vice presidents in a meeting. In their weekly staff meetings, the vice presidents tell their
managers. The managers will then meet with the supervisors. Then the supervisors tell the line employees.
(Think about the game where one person whispers to another on down a line of players, and the last one tells what
they heard. What typically would happen?)

I would say that this is the fourth rule. The funnel is the person that is giving the message and the
marble hitting the target is the message being passed along to the next person. In the experiment, the
marble is dropped in an attempt to hit the target. After the first marble reaches rest, the funnel moves
to the location of the marble and then another one falls. The process then repeats itself. In this
example, the president is the funnel and passing the knowledge on from president to vice presidents is
equivalent to the marble attempting to hit the target. Then the vice presidents become the funnel and
the message being passed from vice presidents to managers becomes the new marble falling to reach
the target. The funnel (the person passing along the information) passes along their information with
the starting point being the previous result (information being passed along by the previous
funnel). This process results in the most variation as it continues. The best option would be rule one
where the information is just given by the president to everyone. Take a company townhall for
example.
b. Because a company was hiring fewer employees than in the past, it introduced the on-the-job training to replace its
standardized classroom training. Under the new system, each machine operator trains his or her successor.

I would say that this is rule 4. I would compare the funnel to the trainer and the marble hitting the
target as the information passing from the trainer to the successor. In the experiment, the marble is
dropped in an attempt to hit the target. After the first marble reaches rest, the funnel moves to the
location of the marble and then another one falls. The process then repeats itself. In the trainer
example, the trainer trains the successor, passing along knowledge. Over time the successor becomes
the new trainer. The new trainer passes along the information gained from the original trainer. The
2nd generation successor in turn becomes a trainer himself and passes along the information gained
from his trainer. The compensation directly follows the previous result just like the new starting
point for information being passed on is the previous information given. Over time, bits and pieces
of information can be lost in this process. The most beneficial way to handle this process would be to
give all trainees the same information in a standard format.

c. An automatic gage is used to check the size of a diameter produced on a turning machine. If a part is too large, a
compensating adjustment is made by moving the cutting tool closer to the part by the amount that it was too large.

This example is like the second rule. In the second rule, the next location of the funnel is based on the location
of the ball drop. The funnel is moved in the opposite direction of the ball location to compensate for the error.
In the example of the cutting tool, the tool is moved closer to the part (opposite direction of the result if the
part is too large) to make it smaller. This option is better than Rules 3 & 4 but this still induced more variation
when compared to leaving the process alone.

d. A chemical solution must be prepared in small batches, but then several batches go into the same holding tank.
After each batch, a measurement is taken and an adjustment is made. If the first batch is 5 units over, the next
batch will be set at 5 units under the target setting. The desired result is that the average is equal to the target.
(Think about the changes made to the process itself here, not what is in the holding tank.)

This example is like the third rule. In the third rule, compensation is made by moving the funnel in the
opposite direction of the ball drop based on the target. If the ball lands in a northwest position, the funnel is
moved in a southwest(opposite) direction based on the target. In this example, if the first batch is over by a
value of “x”, the compensation is not “x” units in the opposite direction of the results (Rule 2) but it is “x”
units in the opposite of the target. If we want better results, we should used use the second rule.

e. A supervisor notices that a machine operator is just sitting by the machine and does not appear to be making
adjustments after a part measures out of spec. This machine historically has output which requires some rework.
The supervisor scolds the operator for not adjusting the machine more often to improve quality. (What rule is the
operator following?)

The operator is following the first rule. This is the rule that has no tampering. The results are given and the
process continues without any influence based on the results. With the funnel, the marble is continuously
dropped from the same spot in an attempt to reach the target. No matter where the marble hits or comes to
rest, the funnel make no attempt to adjust. In the case of the operator and the machine, the operator continues
to let the machine run and make parts without any interference, without any outside influence. This is the
best rule to follow.

Under what conditions should the operator make changes?

If the parts are useable then the operator should make no changes. From the results from the funnel
experiments, we learn that the more that you tamper with a process the more variation is induced.
f. Describe an additional situation that illustrates a concept in the funnel experiment (Rules 2, 3, or 4). The situation
may describe an actual one you have experienced or are aware of. Discuss why it follows the rule and if it is a
good practice or not. (If you cannot think of one, you can do an internet search on Deming Funnel Experiment and
find one. Do not plagiarize: Paraphrase the situation and appropriately cite the source.)

I experienced the fourth rule. When I graduated in 2016, I joined the FPL Solar PV group which at the time
was a relatively new group. With it being a new group, there was not a structured training program. It was
the job of the experienced engineers to teach the new engineers (two of us at the time). After a year of working,
it then became our job to train the new employees that came behind us. When our manager came to visit, he
quizzed the group on some of the preventative maintenances that we perform at our solar sites. When our
manager left, one of the new engineers pulled me aside and told me that he had never heard of some of the
jobs that our manager asked about. I wondered why this employee didn’t know the information after being
around the group for so long. That’s when I realized that I had passed down that information because it was
taught to me, but that new engineer was untrained because the knowledge wasn’t passed to his trainer, or his
trainer never passed that information to him. The best practice for the team in that situation would have been
to come up with a standardized training curriculum where everyone learns the same knowledge.

Part 3. Deliverables

Complete this handout and submit to the dropbox.

Post 1 response to the discussion board. Choose out of these three options:
1. Post your response to one of the situations in Part 2 a-e (that has not yet been addressed)
2. Respond to another students posting, offering a different perspective or expanding upon the discussion.
3. Describe an additional situation that illustrates a concept in the funnel experiment from your own experience
(not one from internet).

Grading criteria –
1. All requirements of Part 1completed with mostly correct answers.
2. Part 2: a-d
a. Correct “rule” identified for each situation.
b. Clear explanation provided as to why the practice follows the rule.
c. Reasons for the practice being good or not are reasonable and expressed in terms of what happens to
the process.
3. Part 2: d
a. Correct “rule” identified with clear explanation.
b. Conditions for making adjustments reflects understanding of common and special cause variation.
4. Part 2 f: Situation described clearly illustrates one of the rules.
(Source appropriately cited if not from own experience.)
5. Response posted in discussion board as required meeting one of these requirements.
o Posting is the first in the thread and provides sufficient information (see 2b&c) to allow students to
make a reasonable response.
o Responses after initial situation posting offers different perspective or expands the discussion
o Situation from own experience clearly illustrates one of the rules. (May not submit an internet
example.)
 Other – deductions made for the following.
o Not submitted to the drop box in word or pdf format.
o Did not use the template provided. (Do not add a cover sheet!)
o Included extraneous information or screen shots.