Case Study

Extracting test data into SPC and capability reports changes culture at Rockwell Collins

When I first started working at Rockwell Collins, I focused on the final test data coming off each product. We made highly complex devices at low volumes, so this data was critical to understanding how our products were being built and performing in the aircraft.

There was an existing antiquated system to extract the text files of data into a database and create some charts, but it took a lot of effort to be able to trend the data on a control chart, and perform capability analysis (Cpk/Ppk) on each test measurement.

With the help of an intern, we created a new system (Test Data Management System or TDMS) that had better extraction features, better charting, and pulled in much more data and much easier. My favorite part was that it could generate a list of test steps with Cpk and Ppk calculated, and it was sorted from worst to best to make it easy for the teams to quickly determine their worst performing test measurement, review the data for special and common cause, and measure the impact of changes on the process or product. This helped increase test yield and reduce customer complaints across many different product lines.

As the system increased in usage, a more robust solution was needed. I worked through numerous iterations of the system over most of my 18 years at the company to continue to make it into the vision I had. When I left the company in 2017, there were dedicated resources managing the huge database of records and data, and it was ingrained into the process improvement teams across multiple sites.

Unfortunately, I don’t have actual savings on this impact overall. We do have numerous Six Sigma projects that used the system, so I know it led to millions of dollars in savings for the company. This is one of my proudest accomplishments while working there, as I know it helped move the company to be more data-driven.


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