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Taguchi
Applications of Taguchi approach approach to
to statistical design of statistical design
experiments in Czech Republican
447
industries
Received December 2003
Jiju Antony, V. Somasundarum and Craig Fergusson Revised May 2004
Division of Management, Caledonian Business School, Accepted May 2004
Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK, and
Pavel Blecharz
VSB-TU The Faculty of Economics, University of Ostrava,
Sokolska, Czech Republic

Keywords Taguchi methods, Statistical methods, Czech Republic, Organizational effectiveness


Abstract Dr Genichi Taguchi is a Japanese engineer and quality consultant who has promoted
the use of statistical design of experiments for improving process/product quality at minimal costs.
Taguchi has developed a practical and strategic approach for designing quality into products and
processes at the product planning, design and development stages, which is often referred to as
off-line quality control. Although many companies in Europe and the USA have used the Taguchi
approach to statistical design of experiments with success, very few applications of this method are
realised in countries such as the Czech Republic. This paper reports the applications of
experimental design advocated by Taguchi in two manufacturing companies in the Czech Republic.
The results of the study are stimulating and will lead to wider applications of this methodology for
tackling process and quality-related problems in the Czech Republican industries in the near future.

Introduction
Statistical design of experiments (SDOE) plays a powerful role in many organisations
today in terms of improving process efficiency, product quality and process capability;
and reducing process variability, costs of poor quality such as scrap, rework and other
failure costs. This powerful technique has proven to be one of the most effective and
reliable weapons in the twenty-first century arsenal of globally competitive
organisations. It was initially developed by R.A. Fisher at Rothamsted Agricultural
Station, London, England (Fisher, 1935). However, the person who is seen to have most
influenced the development of SDOEs (SDOE) in the industrial world is Dr Genichi
Taguchi. Dr Taguchi has been very successful in integrating statistical methods into
the powerful engineering processes for achieving greater process stability, capability
and yield. Taguchi emphasised the importance of designing quality into products and
processes right from the design stage through to the entire product development cycle
(Taguchi, 1987). A number of successful applications of the Taguchi approach to
SDOEs have been reported by many American and European manufacturers (Phadke, International Journal of Productivity
1989; Quinlan, 1985; Taguchi and Yokohama, 1993; Rowlands et al., 2000; Antony et al., and Performance Management
Vol. 53 No. 5, 2004
1999). The SDOE methodology developed and promoted by Taguchi has accentuated pp. 447-457
the importance of making products’ functional performance or process performance q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1741-0401
insensitive to various sources of noise conditions (e.g. ambient temperature changes, DOI 10.1108/17410400410545914
IJPPM relative humidity fluctuations, equipment or machine performance degradation, tool
53,5 wear, product-to-product variation, etc.). This is also known as robust parameter
design (RPD). RPD is essentially a part of Taguchi’s SDOE.
Despite the successful applications of the Taguchi approach to SDOE, a wider use of
the approach and its associated techniques is only possible by gaining a better
understanding of the method (i.e. where, when and how to use) and its analysis. The
448 successes and failings of the Taguchi approach to SDOE have been widely discussed
(Nair, 1992; Pignatiello and Ramberg, 1991; Bendell et al., 1989; Box et al., 1988; Kumar
et al., 2000). Taguchi’s main successes have been to demonstrate the importance of
designing quality into products and processes at early stages of the product
development process, making processes robust against undesirable nuisance factors
without actually eliminating them completely from the process, simplifying the use of
SDOE as a powerful tool for industrial engineers, and so on. On the other hand,
Taguchi’s main weaknesses have been the use of linear graphs for assigning factors
and interactions to various columns of the orthogonal array (OA), the use of
signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) as a performance indicator of robustness, lack of use of
sequential and adaptive approach to experimentation, lack of importance on
interactions among the process or design parameters, and so on.

Taguchi case studies


This paper presents two case studies generated from two automotive manufacturers in
the Czech Republic. Although the Taguchi approach to SDOE has been successful in
many European manufacturers, research has shown that the application of this
powerful technique in the Czech Republican manufacturing industries is very limited.
Some noticeable reasons for this gap are:
.
lack of awareness of general quality management principles;
.
lack of awareness of the importance of industrial experimentation and the
benefits gained out of it;
.
inadequate education on applied industrial statistics at academic institutions;
.
managerial intransigence that home-grown solutions (generally
one-factor-at-a-time approach) are sufficient for process optimisation problems;
.
inadequate skills and expertise in advanced statistical methods for problem
solving;
.
poor attitude towards quality improvement and process optimisation strategies;
and
.
lack of resources to initiate pilot studies.
In order to assist with the application of the Taguchi approach to SDOE, the following
steps were employed. More information on the methodology can be obtained from
Antony and Kaye (1999).
(1) Define the objective of the experiment (or nature of the problem).
(2) Define the response or quality characteristic of interest.
(3) Identification of process or design parameters which influence the response or
quality characteristic.
(4) Define the levels of the process or design parameters and the feasible ranges.
(5) Selection of appropriate orthogonal array from standard orthogonal array Taguchi
designs. approach to
(6) Execute the experiment and record data on pre-prepared design matrix (or statistical design
experimental layout).
(7) Perform statistical analysis of data.
(8) Determination of optimum condition. 449
(9) Predict response at optimal settings and establish confidence interval.
(10) Confirmation and implementation of new settings.
The following two case studies were carried out by strictly following the above steps. The
first case study is about the application of Taguchi SDOE for the development of a new
ignition coil for an automotive vehicle. The performance of the ignition coil is measured
by “burn time” (i.e. time in which the electric arc lasts on ignition coil). Although extensive
tests were carried out using the traditional approach to experimentation
(one-factor-at-a-time), the current achieved performance (i.e. 1.7ms) fell far short of the
desired performance specified by customers (i.e. 1.9ms). In order to tackle the problem, the
company decided to employ Taguchi’s approach to SDOE due to the following reasons:
.
Few engineers within the company were already trained on Taguchi’s approach
to SDOE.
.
The purpose of the experiment was to obtain results in a short period of time
with minimum budget and resources.
.
The experiment involved a large number of design parameters (14) and it was
important to screen the most important design parameters which influence the
“burn time”.
The following objectives were set for the experiment by a team of people from quality,
design, production, maintenance, process and operators:
.
Which of the design parameters and their interactions have major influence on
“mean burn time”?
.
Which of the design parameters affect variability in “burn time”?
.
determine the best settings to achieve a target value of 1.9ms for “burn time”.
Through an extensive brainstorming session with the team, it was decided to study 14
design parameters at two levels. The experimentation team was interested to analyse
one interaction among the design parameters. The degrees of freedom required for
studying 14 main effects and one interaction effect is 15. The most appropriate OA
design to meet this requirement is a 16-trial experiment (L16 OA). Table I illustrates the
list of design parameters and their ranges chosen for the experiment.
The experiment was performed using the above uncoded design matrix. Each trial
condition was replicated three times to capture variation due to noise parameters,
which are hard or expensive to control during the experiment, but have significant
impact on the product’s functional performance variability (Schmidt and Launsby,
1992). The results of the experiment are shown in Table II.
The first step in the analysis was to compute the SNR corresponding to each trial
condition. SNR is a measure of the performance variability of products/processes in the
presence of noise factors (Antony et al., 1999). The idea is to maximise the SNR and
IJPPM Design parameter Label Level 1 Level 2
53,5
Length of core A 60 67
Core material B Material 1 Material 2
Magnet material C Current Better
Number of magnets D 1 2
450 Number of turns on secondary coil E 19,000 23,000
Type of secondary coil F Tree Section
Length of sheet covering (mm) G 74 92
Length of primary coil (mm) H 66 61
Thickness of sheet covering (mm) I 0.35 0.55
Core connection J Not welding Welding
Core temp. processing K Annealing Not annealing
Table I. Number of core sheets L 1 3
List of design parameters Core-magnet gap (mm) M 0 0.1
used for the experiment Material of sheet covering N Material X Material Y

Run A B A£B C D E F G H I J K L M N Burn time (ms)

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1.23, 1.21, 1.24


2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1.47, 1.42, 1.41
3 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 1.89, 1.98, 1.93
4 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1.93, 1.84, 1.87
5 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1.58, 1.60, 1.60
6 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 1.53, 1.54, 1.60
7 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 1.49, 1.51, 1.53
8 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 1.55, 1.58, 1.56
9 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1.57, 1.61, 1.64
10 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 1.50, 1.51, 1.60
11 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 1.92, 1.94, 1.98
12 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 1.85, 1.89, 1.90
13 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1.92, 1.99, 1.99
Table II. 14 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1.94, 1.96, 1.97
Results of the Taguchi 15 2 2 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 2 1.53, 1.49, 1.53
experiment 16 2 2 1 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 2 1 1.59, 1.58, 1.60

thereby minimise the effect of random noise factors which have significant impact on
the process performance. SNR for nominal-the-best quality characteristic (here it is
burn time) is calculated using the following equations (Roy, 2001):
SNR ¼ 10 log MSD ð1Þ
where:
X
n
ðyi  mÞ2
i
MSD ¼ : ð2Þ
n
Here, MSD (mean squared deviation) is a measure of deviation of a product’s
performance characteristic (y) from its desired target value (m). Based on the above
equations, SNR is calculated corresponding to each design point. Table III presents the Taguchi
SNR values for all 16 trial conditions. approach to
Having obtained the SNR values, the next step was to obtain the mean SNR at low
and high levels of each design parameter. The main effects plot for the SNR is shown in statistical design
Figure 1. The main effect plot clearly indicates that design parameters A, B, C, D and E
have the biggest influence on the SNR. In order to determine the statistical significance
of the effects, it was decided to perform ANOVA (analysis of variance) for the SNR. 451
Pooling strategy was employed (Roy, 2001) to create adequate degrees of freedom for

Trial SNR (dB)

1 3.433
2 6.599
3 25.025
4 26.021
5 10.261
6 9.233
7 8.167
8 9.447
9 10.591
10 8.695
11 25.071
12 29.586
13 22.163
14 24.629
15 8.313 Table III.
16 10.168 SNR values

Figure 1.
Main effects plot for the
SNR
IJPPM the error term so that sound conclusions about the significance of effects of design
53,5 parameters can be drawn. ANOVA was performed with the idea of sub-dividing the
total variation of data into useful and meaningful components of variation due to main
effects (i.e. effects of design parameters). The pooled ANOVA table is shown in
Table IV. The table shows that the most influential design parameters are E, C and A,
which account for more than 80 per cent of total variation in data.
452 Table IV indicates that design parameters C and E are statistically significant at
both 5 per cent and 1 per cent significance levels, whereas design parameters A, B and
D are statistically significant at only 5 per cent significance level. This, in essence,
shows that design parameters A, B, C, D and E have significant effect on “burn time”.

Determination of optimal condition


The optimal settings are those which provide the best performance based on the data
obtained from the experiment. In this case, we need to select the settings of significant
design parameters which yield maximum SNR. Based on Figure 1, the optimal
condition is determined as:
Design parameter A ¼ Length of core – level 2 (67mm).
Design parameter B ¼ Core material – level 1 (Material 1).
Design parameter C ¼ Magnet material – level 2 (better).
Design parameter D ¼ Number of magnets – level 2 (2).
Design parameter E ¼ Number of turns in secondary coil – level 2 (23,000).

Predicted SNR at optimal condition

SNRpredicted ¼ T þ ðA2  TÞ
 þ ðB1  TÞ
 þ ðC 2  TÞ
 þ ðD2  TÞ
 þ ðE 2  TÞ
 ð3Þ

where T̄ is the average SNR.


¼ 14.838 + (17.569 – 14.838) + (17.381 – 14.838) + (18.223 – 14.838)
+ (17.223 – 14.838) + (22.060 – 14.838) ¼ 33.104dB

Degrees Pure sum Percentage


of Sum of Mean of contribution
Design parameter freedom squares square F-ratio squares (r)

A 1 102.893 102.893 14.872 95.974 7.690*


B 1 81.61 81.61 11.976 74.691 5.984*
C 1 153.724 153.724 22.219 146.805 11.763**
D 1 70.534 70.534 10.195 63.616 5.097*
E 1 770.049 770.049 111.305 763.131 61.148**
Error 10 69.185 6.919 – – 8.318
Total 15 1247 – – – 100.00
Notes: F0.05, 1, 10 = 4.965, F0.01, 1, 10 = 10.044; * indicates that the design parameter is statistically
Table IV. significant at only 5 per cent significance level; ** indicates that the design parameter is statistically
Pooled ANOVA table significant at both 5 per cent and 1 per cent significance levels
Confidence interval for the predicted SNR Taguchi
The confidence interval is the variation of the estimated result at the optimum approach to
condition. The confidence interval for the predicted SNR at the optimum condition is
given by: statistical design
Fða; 1; n2 Þ*MSE
CI ¼ ^ ð4Þ
Ne 453
where: MSE ¼ error variance ¼ 6.919 (from ANOVA table).
F(a, 1, n2) ¼ tabled value of F with 1 degree of freedom for the numerator and n2
degrees of freedom for the error term:
N
Ne ¼ ð5Þ
1 þ ne
where N ¼ total number of SNR values and y e is the number of degrees of freedom
used in the estimate of the SNR:
N e ¼ 16=5 ¼ 3:33:
Substituting the values into equation (3), we get, CI¼ ^ 3.212.
Therefore, the predicted SNR at the optimal condition is 33.104 ^ 3.33 at the 95 per
cent confidence level (or 5 per cent significance level).
Having determined the CI for the SNR, it was then suggested that confirmatory runs
were performed. The results from the confirmatory runs were satisfactory. The mean
burn time from the confirmatory runs was very close to the target value (1.9ms). The
design capability (Ppk) was estimated to be well over 2.0. The company has managed to
meet the above specified target value for burn time with minimum variation around it.
This has resulted in increased customer satisfaction, improved market share and
increased awareness of the power of the Taguchi approach to SDOE in product design
and development process. The results of the study have encouraged the team members
of experimentation to deploy the applications of SDOE in other core processes where
low capability and poor yield were two major quality problems.
The second case study illustrates the application of Taguchi SDOE to the
development process of a new alternator model used widely in the automotive
industry. The objective of the experiment here was to reduce the noise developed by
the alternator under usage conditions. In other words, the purpose of an experiment in
this case was to determine the most important design parameters which influence noise
developed by the alternator. Previous studies have shown that no interactions were
important and hence the objective of the experiment was to study only the main effect
of design parameters. The customer requirement for the noise is defined by curve of
maximum sufferable noise (Figure 2).
Further to a thorough brainstorming exercise with a number of people from design
department, manufacturing, quality and technicians, 11 design parameters were
identified. As part of an initial investigation into the design process, it was decided to
study each design parameter at two levels. Table V illustrates the list of design
parameters and their levels for the experiment. As the team was only interested in
evaluating the main effect of these design parameters, the most appropriate OA design
to meet this requirement is a 12-trial experiment (L12 OA).
IJPPM
53,5

454

Figure 2.
Noise of alternator (before
experiment)

The experiment was carried out using the L12 OA. The results of the experiment along
with SNR are illustrated in Table VI. As the objective of the experiment was to
minimise the noise, SNR for smaller-the-better quality characteristic was selected. Each
trial condition was replicated three times to capture variability due to uncontrollable

Design parameter Label Level 1 Level 2

Chamfer of star A Smaller Bigger


Chamfer of bottom B Yes No
Thickness of plate (mm) C 1 0.5
Jointing of plates D Welding Riveting
Relief of cover E Current 4 points
Edge of pole (degrees) F 45 0
Perforated isolation G Yes No
Table V. Vacuum impregnation H Yes No
List of design parameters Rubberizing I Yes No
and their levels used for Collar above stator J Yes No
the experiment Thickness of cover (mm) K Standard +0.4

Run A B C D E F G H I J K Y1 Y2 Y3 SNR

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 485.17 127.25 79.33 2 49.34


2 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 167.69 14.25 45.01 2 40.05
3 1 1 2 2 2 1 1 1 2 2 2 98.11 43.54 68.60 2 37.33
4 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 1 2 76.10 252.84 75.27 2 43.99
5 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 84.21 87.05 188.68 2 42.24
6 1 2 2 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 58.48 93.25 62.20 2 37.27
7 2 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 439.27 367.24 331.28 2 51.64
8 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 1 1 1 2 173.07 405.87 154.73 2 48.63
9 2 1 1 2 2 2 1 2 2 1 1 95.08 156.68 201.26 2 43.93
Table VI. 10 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 2 192.58 393.68 490.85 2 51.59
Results of the experiment 11 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 2 2 337.32 204.55 500.54 2 51.32
with SNR values 12 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 1 226.37 102.45 530.46 2 50.58
parameters. SNR was calculated using equation (1). The MSD for smaller-the-better Taguchi
quality characteristic is given by: approach to
X
n statistical design
y2i
i¼1
MSD ¼ ; where i varies from 1 to 3: ð6Þ
n
455
Sample calculation
For trial 1, MSD ¼ {(485.17)2 + (127.25)2 + (79.33)2}/3 ¼ 85,958.58
SNR ¼ 2 10 log (MSD) ¼ 2 49.343dB
Figure 3 shows the main effects plot for the SNR. The main effects plot indicates that design
parameters A, D, F, and I have significant impact on noise. ANOVA was then performed to
determine the statistical significance of effects of parameters. The results of pooled NOVA
are shown in Table VII. The pooled ANOVA table shows that design parameters A, D, F
and I account for up to 90 per cent of variation. The contribution of error or noise is about 10
per cent, which was quite satisfactory to the experimentation team.

Determination of optimal condition


The optimal condition is determined by selecting the best levels of most influential
design parameters which have a significant impact on the output performance or
quality characteristic(s) which is/are critical in the eyes of the customer. Here, the
optimal condition for A, D, F and I are obtained as (equation 7):
Design parameter A ¼ Chamfer of star – level 1 (smaller).
Design parameter D ¼ Jointing of plates – level 2 (riveting).

Figure 3.
Main effects plot for the
SNR
IJPPM Design Degrees of Sum of Mean Pure sum of Percentage
53,5 parameter freedom squares square F-ratio squares contribution (r)

A 1 187.74 187.74 36.12** 186.77 55.20


D 1 24.00 24.00 4.62 23.04 6.81
F 1 36.94 36.94 7.11* 35.97 10.63
456 I 1 58.10 58.10 11.18* 57.13 16.89
Pooled error 7 36.382 5.197 – – 10.47
Total 11 343.16 – – – 100.00
Note: F0.05,1,7 = 5.59, F0.01, 1,7 = 12.25; ** indicates that the design parameter is statistically significant
Table VII. at both 5 per cent and 1 per cent significance levels; * indicates that the design parameter is
Pooled ANOVA table statistically significant at only 5 per cent significance level

Design parameter F ¼ Edge of pole – level 2 (0 degrees).


Design parameter I ¼ Rubberizing – level 2 (no).

SNRpredicted ¼ T þ ðA1  TÞ
 þ ðD2  TÞ
 þ ðF 2  TÞ
 þ ðI 2  TÞ

¼ 245:66 þ ð241:704 þ 45:66Þ þ ð244:245 þ 45:66Þ
ð7Þ
þ ð243:905 þ 45:66Þ þ ð243:459 þ 45:66Þ
¼ 236:33

From the predicted SNR value, the noise (i.e. response or quality characteristic) was
generated. The predicted noise at the optimal condition was 65.53. In other words, at the
optimal condition, the total sum of squares of plus (positive) deviations from curve of
customer requirement is 65.53 in the speed range of 1,600-10,000 RPM. The noise before
experiment was estimated to be 205.84. A significant reduction in noise was observed
after the experiment (refer to Figure 4). The next phase of this study is to further analyse
the effect of factors such as angle of chamfer (different angles), tail of the star (cut or no
cut), type of chamfer (single or double) etc. on the performance of star.

Conclusion
The Taguchi approach to SDOE has intensive applications in the engineering design
and development environment. Although many companies in Europe and the USA

Figure 4.
Noise of alternator (after
experiment)
have used the Taguchi approach to SDOE with success, very few applications of this Taguchi
method are realised or reported in the Czech Republic. This paper presents two
applications of the Taguchi approach to SDOE in the Czech Republican industries.
approach to
Both case studies were primarily focused on the use of scientific experiments in the statistical design
new product development process. Both experiments were successful in terms of
meeting the objectives set out by the team from both organisations. The results of the
study have made an increased awareness of the application of SDOE to the engineering 457
fraternity in both organisations. For wider application of such powerful techniques, the
first step is to promote the Taguchi approach of experimental design through local
industry networking, seminars and workshops. The initial events should be primarily
targeted for executive leaders, senior managers and directors of various business units
from various organisations. This should be followed by more detailed training on such
methods from well experienced Taguchi practitioners or consultants who have a lot of
hands-on experience.

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