Make SPC Easy

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Make SPC Easy
As in, data > information > decision
Britt Reid

Published: 06/21/2012 When it comes to statistical process control (SPC), it’s easy to get lost in the weeds and forget what you are really trying to accomplish. The whole point is to make better products for the customer. To do that, you have to perform the same exact processes over and over across every production line. Most important, it has to be done as safely and efficiently as possible so you don’t waste time or money. When Walter A. Shewhart developed control charts, the powerful charts and plots were created with paper and pencil. Today SPC can occur in real time. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Watch the process, collect data, make that data useful, and then make decisions based on that useful information. It’s as simple as that. Perform these tasks, and you will be running to target while reducing variation.

Data > Information > Decision
Don't get caught up in what program you are going to deploy. Will it be lean, Six Sigma, or lean Six Sigma? Will you use this software program or that one? Should you outsource, or will you take it on internally? Traveling around the world and seeing many different companies make lots of different products in lots of different ways has brought me a new appreciation for SPC. It’s not how you do it as much as, “Are you doing it?” Keep in mind a couple things: strategy and execution. Make sure the measurement devices are accurate, the sampling frequency is correct, and the data entry is fool-proofed. These are great and noble things and should be worth the time. However, the largest and most crucial step that I believe is most overlooked in SPC today is using the data to make decisions, which is where execution comes in. During the execution phase, product is being made efficiently, and decisions are being made based on the data. You collect data and have databases full of it. You’ve done all of the checks, and the auditors are proud. You work extremely hard to collect accurate data. You have tools that automatically collect data from testing centers, computers, and other systems. You have all these nice charts where data live and breathe. At the end of the day, how did you utilize those data to make decisions to improve processes? How much did you reduce variation? Are you stopping to look at your products to see if they are being made more consistently? Are you identifying the root causes of variation and instituting control plans to prevent them from returning, or are you going to have to revisit this next year? Here are


supervisor. with a particular interest in automatic data collection from processes using DMS/DCS tools. environmental. Reid was the SPC implementation manager for Louisiana-Pacific Corp. and ask yourself. It’s not reasonable for operators to react to dozens of charts. and oversaw all InfinityQS software applications and implementations in the United States and Canada. or director. production. grab a cup of coffee. He currently leads onsite training classes and assists customers with implementation and Originally a customer of InfinityQS. This is especially useful when many characteristics are collected. think about your current SPC implementation. When you slow down long enough to think about what it is you are trying to do.qualitydigest.html Links: http://www. manager.qualitydigest. the better your SPC programs will be. Don’t collect data just because it is there. • Review the data in a “timely” fashion. All Rights Reserved. purchasing. © 2012 Quality Digest Magazine. His degree in management information systems is from Auburn University. • Provide clear instructions for operators when an exception occurs. “How have my data helped me improve my process?” About The Author Britt Reid Britt Reid joined InfinityQS International in early 2010 as an application engineer.Make SPC Easy Page 2 of 2 some examples of the things you can focus on: • Collect data that are relevant for SPC. Source URL (retrieved on 06/26/2012): http://www. Reid has more than 15 years experience in manufacturing in the areas of quality. • Focus on key characteristics. • Implement a system that highlights exceptions and doesn’t require users to look at every chart. and 6/27/2012 . Timely may mean different things for an operator. Carve out a little time.