A control chart is a graphical tool used for monitoring a production process and quality improvement. One such charting procedure is the Shewhart-type control chart, which is sensitive mainly to the large shifts. For small shifts, the cumulative sum (CUSUM) control charts and exponentially weighted moving average (EWMA) control charts were proposed. To further enhance the ability of the EWMA control chart to quickly detect wide range process changes, we have developed an EWMA control chart using the median ranked set sampling (RSS), median double RSS and the double median RSS. The findings show that the proposed median-ranked sampling procedures substantially increase the sensitivities of EWMA control charts. The newly developed control charts dominate most of their existing counterparts, in terms of the run-length properties, the Average Extra Quadratic Loss and the Performance Comparison Index. These include the classical EWMA, fast initial response EWMA, double and triple EWMA, runs-rules EWMA, the max EWMA with mean-squared deviation, the mixed EWMA-CUSUM, the hybrid EWMA and the combined Shewhart–EWMA based on ranks. An application of the proposed schemes on real data sets is also given to illustrate the implementation and procedural details of the proposed methodology. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.