Process Capability Index - Asymmetrical Positioning of the Process
As stated earlier, the Cp index assumes that the process mean is centred within the tolerance band, but, in practice, this is often an unreasonable assumption. For this reason, alternative indices have been devised which take account of asymmetrical positioning of the process mean relative to mid-tolerance. Consider the process output represented in this next figure, for which the LSL is 10, the USL is 20, the process mean (µ) is 18 and the standard deviation (σ) is 1.166. For this process the Cp index value is 1.43 [i.e. (20 - 10)/ (6 × 1.166)], which might suggest that the output has a very low level of non-conformance. However, as can be seen from the figure, a significant proportion of the output actually lies beyond the upper specification limit. The Cpk index takes account of the asymmetry by relating the spread of one side of the output distribution (3σ) to the difference between the process mean (µ) and the nearest specification limit. Two calculations are performed, and the lowest value (worst case) is taken as the index value.
In the example in the figure above, the Cpk index is 0.57 [ie (20 - 18)/(3 × 1.166)], indicating that the process, as currently set, is not capable of producing to the design specification. The following figure shows the significance of different Cpk values.