Dorian Shainin

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Dorian Shainin (September 26, 1914 – January 7, 2000) was an American quality consultant and college professor most notable for his contributions in the fields of industrial problem solving, product reliability, and quality engineering. He is credited with developing the concept of the “Red X” (discussed below) and “Statistical Engineering.”

In 1939, US industry had begun to focus on the war effort, and Shainin became a coordinator responsible for helping solve problems. By the end of the war, Shainin was in charge of quality and reliability at Hamilton Standard, having gained national recognition for his invention of the Hamilton Standard Lot Plot acceptance sampling protocol. This statistical technique uses the graphical analysis of variable sample data in order to determine if a lot consisting of potentially faulty parts should be accepted or set aside for 100% inspection.

Shainin also incorporated the concepts of control charts from Walter Shewhart into his sampling techniques. In 1946, Shainin was able to demonstrate to the Navy that Lot Plot was more effective than 100% inspection, and it soon became a standard across many industries.

In 1952, Shainin joined Rath & Strong, Inc. holding the position of Senior Vice President.

Later in the 1950’s, Shainin recognized that the Pareto principle could be applied effectively to reduce variation of a problem. Shainin concluded that one cause-effect relationship had to be stronger than the others (the “Big Red X”). Shainin asserted that his application of statistical methods was more cost-effective and simpler than Taguchi methods. In order to determine the “Red X,” Shainin would swap pairs of parts between functional and faulty equipment until the one part responsible for the failure is discovered. Shainin would claim that he could often find the primary defective part within a dozen paired swaps.

He enhanced his approach by confirming the Red X using Ronald Fisher’s statistically designed experiments (DOE) to isolate the Red X with statistical analysis, and reveal and potential interactions. He also expanded Fisher’s ANOVA techniques with non-parametric approaches for full factorial experiments.

He was also influenced by John Tukey, and developed a Six Pack Test that were known for being much simpler than t-tests, using non-parametric analysis, and using a basic rule set.

In the 1940s, Leonard Seder developed the Multi-vari chart, a graphical method for analysis of variance. Shainin was an early adopter of this method, discovering that with Multi-vari charts, he could quickly converge on the root cause of a problem, which was pivotal to his Red X concept.

From 1950 through 1983, Shainin was on the faculty of the University of Connecticut, where he originated and conducted the continuing education program for people in industry. At one of his seminars, the medical directors of two Connecticut hospitals convinced him to work on some of their critical management problems. As a result, The Newington Children’s Hospital (now part of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) appointed him statistical consultant to the medical staff from 1957 to 1994. Thus, he had the opportunity to adapt several of his techniques to the problems of the etiology of infirmities, particularly disabled children.

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Books

  • Managing Manpower in the Industrial Environment
  • Tool Engineers Handbook
  • Industrial Engineering Handbook
  • Quality Control Handbook
  • New Decision-Making Tools for Managers
  • Manufacturing, Planning, and Estimating Handbook
  • Statistics In Action

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