Saturday, January 25, 2014

What is Lean Thinking?

Lean Thinking is just like it sounds: managing operations without expending excess resources. Like a lean piece of meat, lean operations are trimmed. Lean Thinking also includes adding value.

Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese author and engineer, identified 7 wastes. Recognizing and eliminating them creates a lean work environment.They are:

1.     Overproduction
2.     Waste of waiting
3.     Waste of transportation
4.     Waste of inventory
5.     Waste of processing
6.     Waste from product defects
7.     Waste of motion

To add value, examine the following:

  •      How does your customer see your company?
  •      What problems need to be exposed?
  •      What can be simplified?
  •       Be flexible when considering new ideas or changes. 

     Kaisen and 5S are Lean Thinking terms. Kaisen adds value with continuous improvement. 5S is the reorganization of work areas to improve efficiency and reduce waste. The 5 “S’s” are:
Sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain or systemize.

I think this brief explanation of Lean Thinking illustrates its advantage to any activity. From offices to factories to households, cutting waste and adding value can yield benefits.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ASQ Quality Engineer Certification: Preparing for the Exam-Time Management

Manage preparation for the certification exam like a project. The exam date is the project due date. The registration deadline is a major milestone.

Phase One is to review statistics and practice problems. Depending on your work and education background, you might be able to skip this.

Take the practice tests frequently. Time yourself so you have an idea of how quickly you can move through a test. Although I usually studied alone with no distractions, I took a couple of tests with family members in the house. This prepared me for distractions during the actual test.

When I first started taking these tests, I was discouraged by how slowly I worked through unfamiliar calculations. My speed improved gradually. I compared building up my test-taking speed to an athlete training for an event. As you approach the registration deadline, assess your speed. If you're comfortable with your progress, sign up and make the commitment to take the exam.

Phase Two is to review quality engineer principles and solidify your quality engineer mindset. I used questions from the practice tests to guide this phase of my studies.

About 3 weeks before the exam start taking a practice test every other day. This builds your confidence and speed in tackling calculations. Because youre rotating the same 4 practice tests, some of your speed improvement is due to familiarity. You will probably not see any of the exact questions from practice on the actual exam.

The day before the exam, give your brain a break. Arrive at the test facility refreshed and ready to tackle 160 questions.

In review, Phase One is to study statistics and familiarize yourself with practice tests.

After registering for the exam, Phase Two is a study of more specific quality engineering principles and building speed by frequent test taking.

Good luck!

Quality Engineering Certification Related Posts:

Study Materials are described in a previous post.
What to expect on exam day.

contact me

Friday, January 3, 2014

ASQ Quality Engineer Certification: What to expect on Exam Day

All ASQ exams begin at 8:00 a.m. You need to arrive 30 minutes early to check in, organize your materials at your seat, and locate the restroom.

I strongly recommend visiting the test facility prior to the exam day. Know your travel route. My facility was a 1 hour drive and had a gated entrance. On test day there was a pouring rain.

You are not allowed to have a cell phone in the exam room. You are not allowed to have a cell phone in the exam room.

I repeat the above because about 20 people out of 60 walked into my exam room with cell phones. Some were busy talking on their phones so they didn't hear the announcements that they weren't supposed to have cell phones. :) The proctor may offer to hold onto the phone, but it is your responsibility to remember to retrieve the phone after the exam. I would recommend leaving it in your car.

Bring a legal calculator. Calculators with graphing capabilities and/or with keys labeled with the alphabet are not allowed. A basic statistical calculator is needed. I used a Texas Instruments  TI-66 that I've had for 20-something years. The proctors will check your calculator, and, if it does not meet the guidelines, you will not be able to use it. You cannot share a calculator with a friend sitting nearby. I emphasize this issue because about 3 people did not have the proper calculators in my exam room.

Bring other supplies as required per the ASQ instructions.

Tuck a bottle of water and small snack in your bag so you can discreetly snack and drink to keep up your energy level.  After all, it is a 5 hour exam.

Be prepared for distractions. There will be many people in the room. Expect fidgeting, sniffling, sneezing, and coughing.

Despite a strenuous study regimen, I used the entire test time. It took me 3 hours to go through the 160 questions,and I used the last 2 hours to review my answers.

Quality Engineering Certification Related Posts:

Study Materials are described in a previous post.
Time management while preparing for the exam.

contact me

ASQ Quality Engineer Certification: Preparing for the Exam-Materials

I recently passed the American Society for Quality's Quality Engineer examination. In this post and others, I'll share my experience and study tips to help anyone facing this challenge.

I allotted about six months to prepare for the exam. I formerly held a quality position, but had been out of the field for many years. These are the materials I used and recommend:

  1. A Basic Statistics Text with problems to work through and answers provided. I used The Complete Idiot's Guide to Statistics by Robert A. Donnelly.
  2. The Certified Quality Engineer Handbook by Connie M. Borror.
  3.  Copies of the two practice exams provided on the ASQ website.
  4. A statistical calculator that meets the guidelines for the exam. Practice with this calculator, and do not bring a graphing calculator to the exam. You will not be allowed to use it.

Because I was not currently in a quality position, I took a six week online course called Six Sigma: Total Quality Applications. This served as a good review of basic statistics, problem analysis techniques, control charts, and process capability calculations. If your current job is in the quality field, the course may be unnecessary.

The Certified Quality Engineer Handbook was invaluable for the following reasons:

  • Includes a CD with two practice tests.
  • Includes a CD with Acceptance Sampling Tables to determine sample size. Print these out to use during the exam.
  • Includes examples of calculations.
  • Contains many chapters of information on Quality Engineering to study and use as a reference.

Be sure to look at my other Quality Engineering Certification Related Posts:

What to expect on exam day.
Time management while preparing for the exam.

contact me