Ford Motor Company Takes Top Honors in Minitab Experiment Contest

Contest entries reveal how Design of Experiments can improve any process.

April 19, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Minitab, LLC., the world’s leading provider of statistical software for quality improvement, is pleased to announce that Ford Motor Company has been named the winner of the Minitab Experiment Contest.

Ford, Bobcat, Dupont, Corning, Stryker, and more than a dozen other companies from many different industries entered the contest, which focused on how a statistical technique called Design of Experiments (DOE) can be used to solve complex business problems.

Quality improvement professionals use DOE to create experiments that quickly provide insight into how multiple variables affect an outcome. “With DOE, investigators can change more than one factor at a time, then use statistics to determine which ones are important and even identify the optimum levels for these factors,” explains Lou Johnson, a technical training specialist at Minitab and the contest’s organizer. “Because DOE reduces the number of experimental runs you need, it’s an efficient and economical way to improve any process.

“Companies use Minitab’s DOE toolbox to solve their process engineering problems and improve quality every day,” Johnson notes.  “This contest was a great way to see how quality professionals are using those tools, give them some recognition, and share their successes with other quality improvement professionals. But selecting the winner was very difficult, because all of the entries were excellent.” 

The contest entries were judged by a panel of DOE experts based on overall process improvement achieved from implementing experiment results; the effectiveness of the experimental design in addressing the process problem; and efficiency, creativity and ingenuity, among other factors.

The winning entry in the Minitab Experiment Contest was submitted by Scott Sterbenz of Ford Motor Company, who used DOE to find the cause of—and eliminate—a cosmetic defect in automotive carpets that threatened to affect the launch of the 2011 Ford Fiesta. Ford’s entry demonstrated the power of DOE, as Sterbenz and his team identified and implemented a solution to the problem in just 12 days.

Other participants in the Minitab Experiment Contest included:

Bobcat Company. Jim Rose’s factorial design improved the production speed and quality of laser-machined parts.  

Clorox. Lafayette Foland’s experiment improved the effectiveness of a cleaning product.

Corning Inc. Dave Brockway’s experiment statistically determined specification limits for sheet glass.

Delta Faucet Company. Ranger Buchanan and Todd Shadburn’s two-phase experiment improved the quality of an important faucet feature.  

Disk Dynamics. Ron Burke’s full factorial design found the optimal process settings for manufacturing a catheter used in spinal disk replacement surgery.

DuPont. Steve Bailey’s D-optimal design optimized the use of a thermal stabilizer in a plastic composite.

Bill Howell. This quality professional and avid baker’s screening experiment improved the quality of his holiday cookies.

JDS Uniphase. Govind Ramu and Sukhbir Bajwa’s design determined the minimum process settings to optimize the wire pull strength to an electronic component.

Metalor Technologies. Kirk McNeilly’s full factorial design ensured the purity of silver powder used in the semiconductor industry.

Parker Aerospace. Jeff King’s extended gage R&R verified the equivalence of the company’s electrical testing measurement systems.

St Jude Medical. Jackie Ford’s Box-Behnken design demonstrated the process capability and robustness of the process used to seal sterile trays.

Smith and Nephew Orthopaedics. Prasanth Gopal’s full factorial design optimized the electropolishing process used to finish parts for reconstructive knee surgery.

Starbucks. Sarah Borrowes’ response surface design improved the effectiveness of the company’s coffee packaging by eliminating an important customer issue.

H.C. Stark Corporation. Jeff Barnhill’s screening design indentified the cause of a shift in flatness in molybdenum disks used in the semiconductor industry.

Stryker. Nathan Hogan’s split-plot design determined the significance of key process factors and their affects on tensile strength of extruded tubing used for catheters.

Successful Statistics. Andy Sleeper’s experiment identified potential causes of the failure of oil pumps used in refrigerator compressors.

About Minitab, LLC. 

Minitab, LLC. is one of the world's leading developers of statistical analysis and process improvement software for academic and commercial users.

Minitab Statistical Software is the preferred data analysis tool for businesses of all sizes and is used in more than 80 countries by thousands of distinguished companies, including Toshiba, DuPont, Boeing, Royal Bank of Scotland, Nestlé and the leading Six Sigma consultants. It has been used to implement virtually every major Six Sigma quality improvement initiative, and to teach statistics in over 4,000 colleges and universities worldwide.

Quality Companion by Minitab is the package professionals use to plan and execute Six Sigma projects in companies around the world, including Xerox, ITT Industries, Providence Health System, Nissan North America, and LexisNexis.

Quality Trainer by Minitab provides easy access to quality statistics expertise whenever you need it. This subscription-based online learning service lets you learn or refresh your knowledge anytime and helps you use Minitab to apply statistics properly. Interactive lessons based on real problems make concepts easy to retain.

Minitab, LLC., headquartered in State College, Pa., operates offices in the United Kingdom, France, and Australia, and has additional representatives throughout the world. For more information, visit

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