Improved p charts to monitor process quality

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Abstract

It is a common practice to monitor the fraction p of non-conforming units to detect whether the quality of a process improves or deteriorates. Users commonly assume that the number of non-conforming units in a subgroup is approximately normal, since large subgroup sizes are considered. If p is small this approximation might fail even for large subgroup sizes. If in addition, both upper and lower limits are used, the performance of the chart in terms of fast detection may be poor. This means that the chart might not quickly detect the presence of special causes. In this paper the performance of several charts for monitoring increases and decreases in p is analyzed based on their Run Length (RL) distribution. It is shown that replacing the lower control limit by a simple runs rule can result in an increase in the overall chart performance. The concept of RL unbiased performance is introduced. It is found that many commonly used p charts and other charts proposed in the literature have RL biased performance. For this reason new control limits that yield an exact (or nearly) RL unbiased chart are proposed.

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