Agility Centre


Statistical Process Control
Statistical Process Control (SPC) aims at achieving good quality during manufacture or service through prevention rather than detection. It is concerned with controlling the process that makes the product because if the process is good then the product will automatically be good. SPC charts are used as the temperature gauge for a process. Everything is working normally when you are in the green, however if you enter the red the process should be stopped and an investigation performed. Initially the best way to identify what is happening within a process is to measure the products that it is producing. This is undertaken by taking samples from a batch.

Where appropriate
SPC can be used anywhere to control the output of a process. This could be a machining process or even a procedural process.

Requirements when implementing
When employing SPC the following issues need to be addressed: • • Every process has a natural variation, so an acceptable variation output must be identified to give you the lower and upper limits. These are set at plus and minus 3 standard deviations. The type of SPC chart you are going to employ must be identified as follows: • Variables chart, which is used if you choose to measure a variable attribute (e.g. length). These could be as follows: • Measure the average of the sample taken. (x bar chart)
Upper control limit (UCLx)

Average Chart (x )


Lower control limit (LCLx)

Measure the range of the sample taken. (r chart) (Max minus Min value)
Upper control limit (UCLr)

Range Chart (R)


Lower control limit (LCLr)

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Agility Centre


• Attribute chart, which is used if you are measuring from a fail or pass perspective. Samples must be taken over a representable period.

SPC FORMULAS for Variable Charts X and R charts Assume samples of size 3 are taken The readings are x1, x2, x3


x1 + x2 + x3 Where R = (largest x ) - (smallest x ) 3

these are the two values that are plotted on the charts To set up the chart, take 20 (minimum) random samples, each of size 3 Calculate x and R as above, then


x1 + x 2 + x3 + .......... . + x 20 20


R1 + R2 + R3 + .......... + R20 20

These give the average (x and R) lines on the chart. Then calculate the control limits using the formulas: -

UCLx = x + A2 × R LCLx = x - A2 × R

UCLr = D4 × R LCLr = D3 × R

Where the values A2, D3, D4 depend on the sample size Sample Size 3 4 5 6 7 A2 1.023 0.729 0.577 0.483 0.419 D3 0 0 0 0 0.076 D4 2.575 2.282 2.115 2.004 1.924

SPC Formulas for Attribute Charts These could take the form of “p” (percentage), “c” or “u” charts. “p” and “ charts are c” employed where the number of units is constant whereas a “u” chart is employed where they are not. These are a very quick way of calculating your control limits. “c” chart

c ±3 c
“u” chart

Eg. 16 ± 3 16 =

upper limit = 28 lower limit = 4

u u±   n

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Agility Centre


Relationship to Environmental Turbulence Indicators (ETI)
• • • • • • Dynamic Customer Requirements. Supply Chain Turbulence.

Relationship to Agility Capabilities Indicator (ACI)
Product Agility. Process Agility. People Agility. Operational Agility.

Tips and Tricks
The following will assist you in performing SPC: 1. Data should be accurate. 2. As soon as the process is detected to of gone out of control it should be stopped immediately and investigated. 3. Charts must be clear and readily accessible. 4. Charts must be kept up to date. 5. Sample sizes must be representative of batch sizes.

• • • • • • • Don’t loose focus by getting bogged down in analysis. If the correct attributes are not measured then out of tolerance products could still get through. Don’t just rely on charts to identify problems.

Increased quality, reduced defects, increased customer satisfaction. Reduce non-value activities. Increase visibility. Translate findings to financial implications and identify possible investment.

John Bicheno, “The Quality 75 “, Picsie Books, ISBN 0 9541244 0 5

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