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Minitab LLC

Six Sigma

Getting Trainees Up to Speed with Stats

Quality Trainer helps employees speak the same statistical language

Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 09:24

Cummins Inc. designs, manufactures, sells, and services diesel engines and related technology around the world. It serves its customers through a network of 500 distributors and more than 5,200 dealer locations in more than 190 countries and territories. Cummins incorporates quality in everything it does by using Six Sigma to continuously improve its products and services. And because Cummins sees no barriers to where and how Six Sigma can be applied, the company has a large and extremely diverse list of improvements. It has completed more than 12,000 projects, saved more than $2 billion, and trained more than 2,700 employees in Six Sigma techniques, including statistical analysis.

Using Six Sigma throughout the entire organization posed a challenge to the company’s Six Sigma training program. Because Cummins employs people with a wide array of skills and backgrounds, participants entered training sessions with a diverse range of statistical knowledge and experience. That made instruction difficult.

“Not everyone who becomes a Master Black Belt is a mathematician,” observes K. Megan Henry, director of Six Sigma at Cummins.

That’s where Minitab’s Quality Trainer comes in. Quality Trainer is an e-learning course that teaches Green Belts, Black Belts, and other quality professionals the statistics they need to apply when improving quality and processes. It covers all the main methods used when implementing a Six Sigma project and includes instruction on how to apply them using Minitab Statistical Software.

Quality Trainer’s animated lessons bring complex statistical methods to life, and let people practice what they learn by working through real-world scenarios.

When Henry evaluated the software, she realized she had found a solution to some of the company’s challenges.

“Quality Trainer completely aligned with our training needs,” she says. “It teaches the basic statistics and Minitab techniques we need, without duplicating what we covered in our own training.”

The software helps people learn complex statistical methods quickly, with animated lessons that bring them to life. Users then practice the concepts they learn by working through real-world scenarios. At the end of each lesson, learners can test their knowledge with quizzes, understand why their answers are correct or incorrect, and, if necessary, learn which sections to review to fully master the material.

Quality Trainer is now integrated into the company’s Six Sigma training.

“Now trainees are required to do the relevant modules before they come to class,” Henry explains. “This gives the entire class a consistent starting point. Even participants with backgrounds as diverse as human resources and mechanical engineering are talking the same language.”

By explaining key statistical concepts, then illustrating how to apply them in Minitab Statistical Software, Quality Trainer ensures participants in Cummins’ Six Sigma training share a common base of knowledge when they reach the classroom.

Henry says trainees have responded very positively. Because it’s available online any time, learning opportunities can be worked into even the busiest schedules. “At Cummins we believe in learning done on the job, and Trainer is so flexible it allows people learn at a schedule and pace that meets their own,” Henry says. “It’s easy to use Trainer for a bit, take care of other responsibilities, then come back and pick up where you left off.”

Employees who already have statistical experience can use Quality Trainer as an online reference, thanks to its searchable index, dynamic table of contents, and extensive glossary of statistical terms with complete, illustrated definitions.

“Even people who have done Six Sigma projects for 10 years need a little refresher now and then, and Trainer meets that need perfectly,” Henry notes.

When combined with Cummins’ license for Minitab Statistical Software, Quality Trainer was extremely affordable. Cummins soon secured an enterprisewide license for Quality Trainer. “It’s almost unbelievably economical,” Henry says. “We consider our enterprise license a real bargain.”

Quality Trainer’s simple organization, searchable index, and extensively illustrated statistical glossary make it easy for even experienced quality professionals to quickly refresh their knowledge and brush up on techniques they haven’t used recently.

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About The Author

Minitab LLC’s picture

Minitab LLC

Minitab Inc. develops statistical analysis and process improvement software for academic and commercial users. Minitab Statistical Software, a data analysis tool for businesses, has been used to implement virtually every major Six Sigma quality improvement initiative, and to teach statistics in more than 4,000 colleges and universities worldwide. Quality Companion is used to plan and execute Six Sigma projects. Use the subscription-based online learning course, Quality Trainer, to learn or refresh your knowledge and to access quality statistics expertise anytime. Interactive lessons based on real problems make concepts easy to retain.