A winning business strategy lays out a path with small steps that allows for changes in direction along the way. Our “SCO” flowchart for experimenters is a prime example of such a template for success. Its tried-and-true* core is screening (“S”), characterization (“C”) and optimization (“O”). However, we added one last, but perhaps most important, step: Confirmation. Let’s dive into the Stat-Ease strategy for experimenters and find out what makes it work so well.
Our starting point is the Screening design. Screening designs provide a broad, but shallow, search for previously unknown process factors. TIP – don’t bother screening factors that are already known to affect your responses! Newly discovered factors—the “vital few” carry forward into the next phase of experimentation, with the “trivial many” being cast aside. By using medium-resolution (Res IV) designs—color-coded yellow in the primary two-level factorial builder in Design-Expert® software (DX), you can screen for main effects even in the presence hidden interactions. If runs must be closely budgeted, take advantage of the unique Minimum-Run Screening designs in DX.
Moving ahead to Characterization with the vital-few screened factors plus the big one(s) you set aside, the identification of two-factor interactions becomes the goal. This necessitates a high-resolution design (Res V or better)—the green ones in DX’s main builder. To save runs, consider a Minimum-Run Characterization design. Either way, be sure to add center points at this stage so you can check curvature. If curvature is NOT significant, then your mission is nearly complete—all that remains is Confirmation!
If curvature does emerge as being significant and important, then move on to Optimization using response surface methods (RSM). The beauty of RSM is that, with the aid of DX and its modeling and graphics tool, you can see by contour and 3D maps where each response peaks. Also, via numerical tools, DX can pinpoint the setup of factors producing the most desirable outcome for multiple responses. Then it lays out a compelling visual of the sweet spot—the window where all specifications can be achieved.
Last, but not least, comes Confirmation, during which you do a number of runs to be sure you can reproduce the good results. Use the special tool for confirmation that DX provides to be confident of this.
In conclusion, DOE does not provide a single template that you can repeat over and over. You must apply a strategy, such as the one outlined here, that adapts at each stage of your journey to a new and improved process that saves money at an improved quality level. Why not go after it all!
*Strategy of experimentation: Break it into a series of smaller stages, Mark Anderson, StatsMadeEasy blog, 6/20/11.