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Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos

Congreso Internacional de Ductos


Mrida, Yucatn, 14 16 Noviembre del 2001
Paper ID: OAM-18
STATISTICAL CONTROL OF THE MEASUREMENT PROCESS


Thomas Kegel
Colorado Engineering Experiment Station, Inc.
Nunn, Colorado, USA
www.ceesi.com
(970)897-2711




ABSTRACT
This paper proposes a non-traditional paradigm that
considers measurement to be a process. In a manufacturing
process, it is recognized that many small effects can contribute
to random variance in the process output. These effects arise
from an operator, a procedure, the environment, and raw
materials as well as the machinery itself. The economic
equilibrium between the cost of identifying the source of an
effect and the benefit realized from reducing the impact
inevitably results in some level of random variance. The
manufacturing community has developed a statistical tool,
statistical process control (SPC), to monitor the consistency of
the random variance. The application of SPC allows a
manufacturer to confirm that a process is operating in control
and therefore producing consistent products. From a statistical
point of view, the measurement and manufacturing processes
are very similar. The result of a measurement will exhibit
random variance due to the effects of operators, procedures,
and the environment as well as the instrument itself. The SPC
algorithms are therefore equally applicable to the measurement
process. This paper describes by example the application of
statistical process control to several calibration processes. In
addition to monitoring consistency, the results are used to
provide estimated uncertainty values associated with the
measurement result.
INTRODUCTION
As technology continues to play an increasing role in
todays energy business, the demand for supporting
measurements also increases. In addition, competitive pressures
to continuously improve processes further expand the role of
measurement. These economic forces highlight the importance
of understanding measurement science and the implications of
decisions made based on measurement results. This
understanding is even more critical given the increasing value
of the commodity being measured. In the manufacturing
industries the correlations between measurement, statistics and
process improvement have been well established for many
years
1,2
. The automotive industry in particular
3
has realized
benefits in productivity and quality as a result of improved
measurement science. More recently there has been a
realization that the same statistical techniques that have been
developed for manufacturing are applicable to measurement
science
4,5
. The underlying statistics are incapable of
differentiating between the geometry of a manufactured part
and the result of a measurement process
One of the more important tools developed by the
manufacturing community is Statistical Process Control. It is
usually presented in the form of a control chart designed to
interpret the underlying statistics in a simplified form. The
simplification allows for reliable decision making by
practitioners without extensive training in statistics. This paper
provides an introduction to the application of statistical analysis
to measurement science.
THE MEASUREMENT PROCESS
When a measurement is made there is a tendency to
consider only the performance of the measuring instrument
itself. When stating the uncertainty associated with a
measurement, the instrument manufacturers specifications are
often given as the only source of uncertainty. In fact, the
measurement is a process that includes the instrument as only
one of several components. Other components that potentially
contribute uncertainty to the process output include: an
operator, operating procedures, instrument maintenance and the
environment. Each of these components contribute potentially
small random effects that when combined result in a larger
random effect associated with the measurement process output.
The sources of the small random effects are generally unknown
and potentially costly to identify. In fact, as long as the process
is capable of making the required measurement, there is no
need to identify the sources of random variation. It is only
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos
required that the process be monitored to ensure that the
random effects are consistent over time.
For the practitioner, the brief discussion above is
summarized in two important questions to be asked regarding a
measurement process. First, is the uncertainty appropriate for
the application? Second, are measurements consistent over
time? It has been proposed
4
that if the answer to either of these
questions is no then the process is not capable of making a
measurement. This paper presents statistical tools to allow the
practitioner to answer these questions and ensure valid
measurement.
A simple example has been formulated to demonstrate the
statistical principles. The subject is a fictitious pressure
transducer that is used over a 1001000 psi range. The output is
a voltage that varies over the 05 volt range, the nominal
sensitivity is therefore 200 psi/volt. The transducer is calibrated
every 90 days, a history has been developed based on 16
calibrations made between January 1999 and December 2002.
Each calibration involves determining the transducer sensitivity
based on values calculated from pressure and voltage standards.
Sensitivity data are obtained at ten pressure levels equally
spaced over the input range.
The calibration results from December 1999 are shown in
Figure 1. These data would appear to suggest a change in
sensitivity over the range of the transducer, the solid line
represents a proposed correlation. The magnitude of the change
in sensitivity is 1.9 [psi/v] from 100 psi to 1000 psi. Is this
significant? Is it typical of the calibration history, or a
characteristic of this particular calibration? Some decisions
need to be made based on these results. Does the change of
sensitivity affect measurements made with the transducer?
Should the transducer be adjusted? Figure 2 shows the
December 1999 data (closed circles connected by lines)
compared with the entire calibration history (open circles). The
data at each pressure level are distributed over a range of
sensitivity values, this is indicative of random effects. It
appears as if the 1.9 [psi/v] change in sensitivity lies within the
limits of these random effects. Are the data in Figure 1 the
result of a series of random effects rather than a trend?
STATISTICAL PROCESS CONTROL
The scenario described above does not provide the
practitioner with adequate basis on which to answer some
potentially important questions. The calibration data are
adequate but the proper tools are not available. The reliability
of the required decisions can be improved through the use of
Statistical Process Control (SPC).
The heart of SPC is the control chart. It assists the
practitioner to quickly evaluate to status of a calibration history
and confidently make the correct decision. What is a control
chart and how is it developed? This process is now described:
The ten sensitivity values that make up a calibration are used to
calculate a mean and standard deviation. These values, when
plotted against time make up the two types of control charts.
The x chart contains the mean values while the standard
deviations are plotted in the s chart. Control charts for the
current example are shown in Figures 3 and 4. The symbols
represent the mean and standard deviation values of sensitivity
calculated for the 16 calibrations. The solid lines represent
control limits, they are calculated from values of accumulated
standard deviation
4
. The measurement process is considered to
be in a state of statistical control if a data point lies between
the control limits of the x chart and below the single control
limit of the s chart. Only one limit is included in the s chart
because the values for standard deviation are always greater
than zero. The control limits in the charts are not fixed because
they are updated as calibration data are accumulated. The term
statistical control means that the measurement process is
operating in a consistent manner. The control limits quantify
the level of consistency. If a process is operating consistently,
and nothing is done to change that process, then there is a
level of confidence that the consistent performance will
continue into the future. An out of control condition observed
in a control chart is an indication of a problem with the
measurement process that needs to be investigated. The great
value in the use of control charts is in separating potentially
serious measurement problems from naturally occurring
random variations. In the present example, the control charts
indicate that the apparent trend in Figure 1 is nothing more than
random effects and does not warrant adjusting the transducer.
The term level of confidence appears in the discussion
above. It accounts for the fact that statistical analyses never
produce absolutely conclusive results. Conclusions are always
stated with some level of confidence. The particular level
depends on the application, standard practice in measurement
science it is a 95% level of confidence. The shape of the control
limits of Figure 3 is a graphical example of the confidence
interval concept. The x chart shows a steady decrease in the
control limit interval width, decreasing from 2.46 [psi/v] in
April 1999 0.67 [psi/v] in December 2002. As data are
accumulated the level of confidence associated with an in
control conclusion increases. This increase in confidence
results in the control limits moving closer together. The s chart
would show a similar trend except that the standard deviation
value for the first data point is small enough (relative to
subsequent data) to offset the low initial level of confidence.
In an industrial SPC application the control charts are
maintained based on samples of the manufacturing process. In a
measurement process application periodic samples of the
measurement are made, these samples are called calibrations.
While the control charts are maintained based on calibration
data (samples), the relevant application is what takes place
between the calibrations. The validity of the industrial control
charts is dependent on how well the sample represents an entire
batch of the product. Similarly, the validity of the measurement
process control charts depends on the degree of measurement
and calibration process similarity.
ESTIMATING UNCERTAINTY
Two values of standard deviation, with different
interpretation, are calculated from the calibration data to form
the control limits. A pooled value of calibration standard
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos
deviations, called s
w
for within, defines the control limit for
the s chart (Figure 4). The term pooled refers to a process for
combining multiple standard deviation values. The pooled
value represents the process variation observed in the time
required to perform a ten point calibration. The second standard
deviation, calculated from the mean values, defines the control
limits of the x chart (Figure 3). This standard deviation, called
s
b
for between, represents random effects that are only
observed over long periods of time. The duration of a long
period of time depends on the application, in the present
example the duration is four years.
The reported standard deviation, s
r
, accounts for both short
term and long term random effects. The measurement
uncertainty will be underestimated both effects are not
included. The value for s
r
is calculated from values of s
w
and s
b

combined in quadrature (root sum square):
08 . 1 03 . 1 32 . 0 s s s
2 2 2
w
2
b r
= + = + = [psi/v]
The interpretation of s
r
is as follows: all of the random
effects associated with the measurement process amount to
(21.08) = 2.16 [psi/v] with a confidence level of 95%. The
2 term means that two standard deviation values are
required to achieve the 95% level of confidence. The s
r
value
can be confirmed by inspection of Figure 2; 95% of those data
points fall within an interval with width equal to 2.16 [psi/v].
While invaluable in the determination of uncertainty, the
control charts cannot identify the systematic effects that
contribute uncertainty. What is a systematic effect? A random
effect will contribute to observed changes in a repeated
measurement while a systematic effect will not change through
repetition of the same measurement. A typical systematic effect
present in the current example would be the uncertainty
associated with the standard used to calibrate the transducer.
When using control chart data in an uncertainty analysis,
uncertainty estimates attributed to relevant systematic effects
must be determined by other methods.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
When an instrument is calibrated, the purpose of the
calibration is to predict the future. While the present calibration
of an instrument can be used to re-evaluate events in the past,
the most common application of the result is in future events.
The most recent calibration results for the fictitious pressure
transducer are used for the proceeding 90 days. While
predicting the future with absolute certainty cannot be
accomplished, statistical tools can be applied to estimate the
uncertainty in the prediction.
The mean values for the first four calibrations are
contained in Figure 5. A simple linear fit is made of mean
values and calibration date (the date is expressed as the number
of days since January 1, 1900). The solid lines represent the
prediction interval, the interval within which a future
calibration can be predicted to fall
6
. The interval width
increases over time, from 1.7 [psi/v] in September 1999 and
8.4 [psi/v] in December 2002. The shape of the prediction
interval is the result of the range of slope and intercept values
describing lines that could be fitted to the four calibration
points. Stated a different way: when a line is fitted to data there
in uncertainty associated with both slope and intercept, this
results in the increase in interval width when the data are
extrapolated. The prediction interval is fundamentally different
from the control limits despite similar appearances. While new
control limit values are calculated for each calibration the
values for past calibrations remain the same. The prediction
interval is recalculated for the entire calibration history when a
new data point is obtained. The important conclusion to be
drawn from Figure 5 is that uncertainty grows over time after a
calibration.
Figure 6 shows the prediction intervals resulting from six
(dashed line) and ten (solid line) data points. The interval width
decreases as additional data points are obtained. The December
2002 values are reduced from 8.4 [psi/v] to 1.2 [psi/v] as the
data points increase in number from four to ten. While useful as
a learning aid, predicting instrument performance several years
into the future is not a realistic application. A more practical
need would be to predict the uncertainty growth from one
calibration to the next. This information is contained in Figure
7. The abscissa is the number of accumulated calibrations. The
ordinate is the predicted increase in interval width from the last
calibration to the next. For example, if a history consists of
eight calibrations, the prediction interval width is expected to
increase by 6.5% by the time of the ninth calibration.
The linear fit determined from the first four data points
(Figure 5) predicts a change in sensitivity of approximately 1.0
[psi/v] per year. On the one hand, this behavior should prompt
an investigation of the transducer because it might indicate
measurement problem. On the other hand, the trend could be
nothing more than random values appearing in a particular
order. The data of Figure 1 appeared to have indicated a trend
that wasnt present, the same thing may be happening with
these data. The results in Figure 6 indicate that the trend over
time is not predicted as more data are accumulated. The results
are summarized in the plot of Figure 7, as additional calibration
data are obtained the slope approaches a value of zero.
SPC APPLICATIONS
The concepts of SPC have been applied to a number of
applications in a flow calibration facility. The earliest
application involves pressure instrumentation that is maintained
in a regular calibration program
7,8
. Analyses have been
performed on both laboratory and industrial grade transducers.
The control charts are used to ensure measurement consistency
and estimate uncertainty.
A more recent application involves the use of flowmeter
check standards
9,10,11
. Several flowmeters have been
permanently installed in series with the test section of a
calibration facility. One of these meters is always calibrated at
the same time as the meters under test (MUT). This application
differs from the first in that the flowmeters are not used as
standards. Control charts from one of the meters are contained
in Figures 8 and 9. The abscissa values differ from those of
Figures 3 and 4. The flowmeter performance varies with the
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos
input, the random effects increase as the flowrate decreases. In
order to compare performance at different flowrates, the data
are normalized.
The control charts in Figures 8 and 9 are based on 3976
data points contained in 224 calibrations obtained during a six
month period of time. Calibration data obtained before and
after this time interval were based on different check meters
and are summarized in different control charts. The check
standard concept is very valuable because a meter with a well
established history is always subject to the same conditions as a
MUT. When the check meter indicates that the calibration
process is in control this means that the current calibration of
the MUT is consistent with the calibration history of the check
standard. The control chart data also form an important part of
the uncertainty estimate for the facility, the value of s
r
is
assumed to account for all random effects present during the
MUT calibration. The ability to apply the estimated uncertainty
to the MUT is enhanced by the calibration history of the check
standard.
The occasional data points that exceed the control limits in
Figures 8 and 9 are not a problem because the limits are defined
based on a 95% level of confidence. At this level of confidence
5 points out of 100 can fall outside the limits and the process
will remain in control. In general, a decision based on one data
point in the middle of a group is relatively straightforward,
hindsight is always 20/20. For example, the control charts
clearly show that the data from mid September to mid October
are in control. A practitioner looking at the current control
charts in early September does not have this information. They
are faced with an out of control condition (OCC), what does
this mean? Is the current calibration one of the 5% that can be
OCC?, Is the process truly out of control? There are a number
of recommended steps to react to an OCC: The first step is to
confirm OCC indication from both control charts, most of the
OCC cases in Figures 8 and 9 appear only on one chart. The
second step is to wait for a few calibrations and see if the OCC
indicator persists. Referring again to Figures 8 and 9, most of
the OCC indicators exist only for one or two data points. Third,
the manufacturing community has developed a variety of rules
to interpret control chart trends and patterns
1
. Finally, an
engineering investigation of the process should be undertaken
with the intent of localizing the source of the OCC.
CONCLUSION
The application of traditional statistical analysis tools to
measurement science has been briefly described. This was
accomplished based on a simple example as well as some real
world data. Through the use of Statistical Process Control, the
practitioner has a tool to help answer the following questions:
1) Are the measurement process results consistent?
2) What is the uncertainty due to random effects?
3) How much uncertainty growth will occur prior to the
next calibration?
REFERENCES
1. Juran, J. M., Quality Control Handbook, McGraw-Hill,
1951.
2. Bothe, David R., Measuring Process Capability, McGraw-
Hill, 1997.
3. Automotive Industry Action Group, Measuring System
Analysis Reference Manual, Southfield, MI, 1990.
4. Croarkin, Carroll, Measurement Assurance Programs, Part
2: Development and Implementation, NBS Special
Publication 676-2, 1985.
5. Castrup, H. T., et al, Metrology-Calibration and
Measurement Process Guidelines, NASA Reference
Publication 1342, 1994.
6. Hahn, G. J. and Meeker, W. Q., Statistical Intervals, A
Guide for Practitioners, John Wiley, 1991.
7. Kegel, T. M., "Statistical Control of a Pressure
Measurement Process," Transactions of the ISA: Journal of
the Instrument Society of America, 1996. Vol 35, p. 69-77.
8. Kegel, Thomas, Statistical Control of a Differential
Pressure Instrument Calibration Process, 45
th

International Instrumentation Symposium, Albuquerque,
New Mexico, May 2-6, 1999.
9. Kegel, Thomas, Uncertainty Issues Associated With a
Very Large Capacity Flow Calibration Facility,
Measurement Science Conference, Anaheim, California,
January 2021, 2000
10. Kegel, T. M., Statistical Control of a Flowmeter
Calibration Process, 46
th
International Instrumentation
Symposium, Bellevue, WA, April 30 May 5, 2000.
11. Kegel, T. M., Long Term Ultrasonic Meter Performance
Data, AGA Operations Conference, May, 2001.
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos



197
199
201
203
0 200 400 600 800 1000
Applied Pressure [psia]
S
e
n
s
i
t
i
v
i
t
y

[
p
s
i
/
v
o
l
t
]
197
199
201
203
0 200 400 600 800 1000
Applied Pressure [psia]
S
e
n
s
i
t
i
v
i
t
y

[
p
s
i
/
v
o
l
t
]
Figure 1: December 1999 Calibration Data
Figure 2: Entire Calibration History
(December 1999 data shown in black)
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos



197
199
201
203
Nov-98 Nov-99 Nov-00 Nov-01 Nov-02
Date
M
e
a
n

[
p
s
i
/
v
]
0.4
0.8
1.2
1.6
2.0
Nov-98 Nov-99 Nov-00 Nov-01 Nov-02
Date
S
t
a
n
d
a
r
d

D
e
v
i
a
t
i
o
n

[
p
s
i
/
v
]
Figure 3: Control Chart of Mean Data ( x chart)
Figure 4: Control Chart of Standard Deviation Data (s chart)
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos



184
188
192
196
200
204
208
Nov-98 Nov-99 Nov-00 Nov-01 Nov-02
Date
M
e
a
n

[
p
s
i
/
v
]
196
198
200
202
204
Nov-98 Nov-99 Nov-00 Nov-01 Nov-02
Calibration Date
M
e
a
n

[
p
s
i
/
v
]
Interval width based on:
6 points
10 points
Figure 6: Prediction Intervals Based on Six and Ten Calibrations
Figure 5: Prediction Interval Based on Four Calibrations
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos



0
5
10
15
20
25
4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Calibrations
U
n
c
e
r
t
a
i
n
t
y

G
r
o
w
t
h

[
%
]
-1.2
-1.0
-0.8
-0.6
-0.4
-0.2
0.0
L
i
n
e
a
r

D
r
i
f
t

[
p
s
i
/
v
/
y
r
]
Growth
Drift
0.0
0.4
0.8
1.2
1.6
Jun-00 Aug-00 Oct-00 Dec-00
Date
S
t
a
n
d
a
r
d

D
e
v
i
a
t
i
o
n

[
s
]
Figure 7: Uncertainty Growth and Linear Drift
Figure 8: Control Chart for Standard Deviation Data from a Flowmeter Check Standard
Comit Interorganismos de Ductos de Petrleos Mexicanos







-2.0
-1.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
Jun-00 Aug-00 Oct-00 Dec-00
Date
M
e
a
n

[
s
]
Figure 9: Control Chart for Mean Data from a Flowmeter Check Standard