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Design of Experiment

The design of experiments


A design of experiments (DOE) process improves upon the one-change-at-
atime process (see the previous section) by planning out all possible
dependencies in advance. By defining in advance what experiments to
perform in the DOE process, you put yourself in a position to catch multiple
attributes that work together to affect the quality of your product or service.
Inexpensive software packages for performing a DOE are available. Use
your favorite Internet search engine to see what you can find.
To perform a DOE, use the following steps. For this process, we stick with
the pizza-dough example from the previous section. You want to sell your
pizza dough as a mix for consumers to use at home, and, of course, you want
to make the best possible mix. Many factors may affect the production of
your pizza dough mix, but for this example, you’re concerned only with the
recipe.

1. Identify the input and output factors that the experiments will
measure.
Start with a limited number of factors that you think will impact the quality
of your pizza dough mix: flour, yeast, and salt.

2. Define for each input value a number of levels for which the
output value is known.
Your current standard recipe calls for 500 grams of flour, 30 grams of yeast,
and 2.5 grams of salt. You then need to decide how to vary each of these
factors. For example, you can vary flour from a low of 400 grams to a high
of 600 grams; yeast from 20 grams to 40 grams; and salt from 1.5 grams to
3.5 grams.

3. Create an experiment plan that includes the input-level values


defined.
In this case, you try different combinations of flour, yeast, and salt, mix and
bake the crust, and then have a taste tester judge the quality of the crust on a
scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being best).

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Design of Experiment

4. Perform the experiments for each input level and measure the
output.
In other words, you create a matrix of the selected combinations of input
values and levels. For instance, Mix 1 — with 400 grams of flour, 20 grams
of yeast, and 1.5 grams of salt — yields a quality score of 7. Mix 2 — with
500 grams of flour, 20 grams of yeast, and 1.5 grams of salt — yields a score
of 6. Mix 3 — with 500 grams of flour, 40 grams of yeast, and 2.5 grams of
salt yields a score of 8.

5. Look for differences between the output values for the different
levels of the input changes.
These differences are due either to the input value by itself or to the input
value acting in combination with another input. Mix 3 received the best
score, but you may want to do more experiments to determine whether other
factors play a role in the quality of the dough.
Make sure that each department involved in the process of creating your
product or developing your service is involved in identifying the input
values and levels (design, production, shipping, service, and so on). For the
DOE method to work, you must perform an experiment for each possible
combination of input values and levels. If this seems impractical for your
business, you may need to focus on the values you think are most critical;
however, the fewer experiments you do, the closer you get to guessing.

References:

1) Larry Webber and Michael Wallace. Quality Control for Dummies. Wiley
Publishing, Inc. 2007.