Cp is a process index that describes variation relative to the tolerances or specifications.
Cp is a short term process index that numerically describes the "within subgroup" or "potential" capability (Pp is long term indicator) of a process assuming it was analyzed and stays in control.
Physically speaking, it's the width of the distribution regardless of centering around the process mean or a target value. The tighter (thinner) the distribution the higher the Cp.
Characteristics and notes for using Cp:
As with all the process capability indices, ideally the process should be in control before assessing capability. Use time-series and SPC charts to determine process control.
If the process is out of control (i.e. still rising with upward trend), then assessing current process performance is not likely to reflect the long term performance. An out of control process could produce and capability value at any time, it's like a shot in the dark.
Once the Cp is calculated a determination of acceptability is done. Customers vary in their minimum requirement (acceptability limit) for the values of capability indices.
As the pursuit for perfection increases these minimum acceptability levels will increase which means that process must perform with less and less variation.
when the "process capability" estimate for sigma (below) is substituted in the above formula. Also called the "within subgroup" estimate for sigma
where R-bar is the average of the ranges from each subgroup estimated from the X-bar & R control chart. The value for "d" is found from a table based on the subgroup size.
There are other estimates for this sigma value, the above estimation is commonly used.
>1.33 or >1.67 are typical acceptability levels for Cp.
A high value for Cp and low value for Cpk means the process is precise (narrow distribution) but work needs to be done to get the mean centered around the midpoint of the specification limits.
The required values may be available in the form of published standards or it may need to be requested specifically. The amount of samples required and subgroup sizes (if applicable) for capability analysis and control charts can also vary by customer and needs to be determined before starting these calculations.
Cp is a measure of variation only.
Cpk is a measure of location and variation.
Cp will never be a negative number.
Cpk can be a negative number.
The higher the value for Cp (tighter and tigher spread within the subgroup) and Cpk (tighter and centered) the better the process is performing.
Cp and Cpm and machine capability indices. These are very short term indicator of the machines optimal performance. Click the links below to learn more.
Six Sigma Slides
Green Belt Program (1,000+ Slides)
Cost of Quality
Cause & Effect Matrix
Central Limit Theorem
MTBF and MTTR
... and more