Reducing Common Cause Variation - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Reducing Common Cause Variation
Where is the variability coming from and what have we done to minimize it?


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 36, Issue 2, pp. 32

Mistake proofing or poka-yoke

Made famous by the Japanese auto makers, poka-yoke is simple but powerful in reducing variation, deviations, and discrepancies. The goal is to make activities as mistake-proof as possible by physical means or by procedures that are difficult to do incorrectly. The classical physical example is to put a mechanical stop on a drill press to prevent the drillbit from making a hole that is too deep. In a paperwork process, colored pages are used to clearly identify certain documents.

Control what can be controlled

Although controlling what can be controlled may appear to be an obvious idea, many factors are commonly ignored during normal operations. Perceived to be noncritical process parameters, they are left to float within some specified range. However, variables should be controlled to the fullest extent with the highest accuracy possible without incurring great expense or requiring great effort. Again, controlling only one factor will have a trivial impact, but a culture of controlling hundreds will reduce common cause variation. The tools discussed in this article require support from management, but it is that support that makes implementation so powerful.

Lynn D. Torbeck is a statistician at PharmStat Consulting, 2000 Dempster, Evanston, IL 60202, tel. 847.424.1314,
http://www.PharmStat.com/.

References

1. D.C. Montgomery and G. C. Runger, Applied Statistics and Probability for Engineers (Wiley, New York, NY, 1994), p. 834.

2. P. R. Scholtes, The Team Handbook (Joiner Associates, Madison WI, 1988), p. 2–28.


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