Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-- SPC Style

Rick Sloop
By Rick Sloop | October 11, 2011
Director, Service Programs

I just recently heard about the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” theory (thanks to Peter Goral). You probably already know the concept so I guess I’m a little late to the party. Anyway, the theory is that anyone in show business can be linked to Kevin Bacon through their film roles within six steps, or six degrees of Kevin Bacon or less.

Take Elvis Presley for example. Elvis can be linked to Kevin Bacon in one degree of separation. Elvis was in the movie “Change of Habit” with Ed Asner. Ed Asner was in the movie “JFK” with Kevin Bacon. So Ed Asner is the one degree of separation between Elvis and Kevin.

Now you're probably thinking, “that’s interesting, but what does it have to do with SPC?” While I was pondering the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” I decided that we should test the theory with process improvement. I propose that you can isolate the root cause, at least within a specific area, by “Six Degrees (or less) of Data Analysis”.

For example, let’s say we are having dimension issues on a spindle we are producing. We start by sorting the data by Process and notice that the issue is occurring on multiple machines. Our next data sort is based on the Lot of spindle raw material. Bingo! All of the dimensional issues seem to be coming from one material lot. In this case I would say that it took two data sorts to determine where the problem originated. So in essence, we were only two degrees of separation away from the root cause!

So where does ProFicient fit in? Hang on to your Kevin Bacon circa 1980’s dancing shoes… InfinityQS has added Six Level category analysis for ProFicient 4.4! And before you even think it, no I really don’t believe that our developers had Kevin in mind when they added this amazing feature. ProFicient’s six-level categories are available in both Pareto and Box and Whisker plots.

Not only are there six levels, additional categories have been added as well. These categories include Corporate Hierachy, Groups (such as Part, Process) and the ability to use different Time ranges at different levels. Besides the improved data analysis, these six categories can also be used to create some amazing reports.

In the above graphic, I’ve used the six levels to evaluate the Fill Weight of a Juice Filling Line. The data is first sorted for a Juice Filling Lines Department total, then by each Process (1 – Filler), next by the Fill Weight data itself. And that’s only the first three levels! Following the Fill Weight, we sort the Fill Weight data by Day, then Shift and finally with a breakdown of the Fill Weight by the Hour.

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