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Cp and Cpk

Cp and Cpk, commonly referred to as process capability indices, are used to define the ability of a process to produce a product that meets requirements. These indices, which are a fairly recent addition to the field of statistical process management, greatly simplify the management of statistically controlled processes.

To understand Cp and Cpk you must have an understanding of the following terms:

Specification Specifications define product requirements. In other words, they define what is expected from an item for it to be usable. Specifications are normally defined in terms of nominal (+/-) tolerances or ranges (low to high. A specification for a piston ring, for example, might specify that the diameter be 74mm +/- 0.05mm. The upper specification limit (USL) is the upper limit of the specified range. Similarly the lower specification limit (LSL) is the lower limit of the specified range. See: Specifications.
Standard Deviation The standard deviation is a measure of variability in a process. Defined as the root mean square (RMS) deviation from average it indicates how much a process can be expected to vary from the average. The standard deviation is normally fixed for a process that is under statistical control and can only be affected by a process change that affects the variability in a process.
Mean The arithmetic average of a group of values.


The Cp index is calculated using specification limits and the standard deviation only. This index indicates, in general, whether the process is capable of producing products to specifications. No information on the ability of the process to adhere to the target value is included in this index.

The formula for Cp is as follows:


This Cpk index is calculated using specification limits, the standard deviation, and the mean. The index indicates whether the process is capable of producing within specification and is also an indicator of the ability of the process to adhere to the target specification.

The formula for Cpk is as follows:

Application of Cp and CpK

The following conditions must be met before Cp and CpK can be successfully used to evaluate the ability of a process:

Caution: Only after a process is under statistical control, can one safely assume that the mean and standard deviation to have a stable values over time.

Cpk is more widely used than Cp, since it takes into account the mean and the standard deviation in its calculation. Please note that the difference between Cp and Cpk is an indicator of how far the average of the process is from the target specification. When the average of the process approaches the target value, the gap between Cpk and Cp closes. When the average of the specification is equal to the target value, then Cpk is equal to Cp. Cpk can never exceed Cp.

Both Cp and Cpk can be calculated with the generation of descriptive statistic views and histograms.

See Also


Viewing Descriptive Statistics

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