Is there anything more frustrating than a commonly believed myth? Dispelling myths can be difficult, especially when they’re believed by decision makers who affect your ability to do your job. Below are some of the top SPC software myths that your boss believes and the logic that can help you dispel them.
1. Quality is the engineer’s job. Why do we need SPC software to fix/maintain our quality?
There is no better place to start than here. Without a doubt, when we speak to engineers who are getting pushback from upper management, this is the #1 comment they get. What do you say to overcome this?
The short answer: SPC software is a tool, not a robot. It gives you data, tells you where and when your processes are out of control, but it doesn’t tell you what to do or how to do it. Regarding quality, knowing what to do and how to do it is the engineer’s job.
Saying that the engineer doesn’t need SPC software to fix/maintain your quality is kind of like saying you don’t need to get your accountant tax software in order to make sure that your organization’s taxes are done right. It’s about having the right tool for the job.
2. It’s only for large, mostly automated manufacturers.
It’s important here to get a short history lesson in SPC. Walter Shewhart essentially invented SPC in 1924. Automated manufacturing didn’t really exist yet. W. Edwards Deming took SPC over to post war Japan where manufacturing was crippled and attempting to get back on its feet. Most of the organizations Deming worked with were globally very small and robotic manufacturing was at best a fledgling concept. SPC was and is a tool that relies on methodology, rules, and a culture of quality. SPC software is accessible for all, regardless of size or how manufacturing is done.
We have customers ranging in size from multi-national corporations that manage multiple suppliers and need enterprise level solutions to job shops that need simpler solutions to produce the same outcomes: high quality product that they can take pride in.
Today, SPC software has expanded beyond manufacturing. You can use SPC software to track and control any process that has measurable inputs, variation, and a quantifiable outcome. In recent years, the healthcare field has been using it more and more. Want to see how a visitor washing their hands before entering a hospital wing affects patient infection rates? Use SPC software. You’ve got measurable inputs, variation, and quantifiable outcomes. One of the most interesting recent applications of SPC software we’ve seen is in education. Again, you’ve got measurable inputs, PLENTY of variation, and outputs that can be quantified.
3. The man hours saved and efficiency created kills jobs.
Just because a company is focused on efficiency and uses SPC software doesn’t mean that they will cut jobs.
The grand slam of utilizing SPC software is that you’re able to produce more product, at higher quality, with lower scrap rates, and in the same amount of time with the existing number of employees. When organizations are able to do this, all they’re spending money on to produce the additional product is power, supplies, and raw materials (but even the raw material cost may not be that high if you’re reducing your scrap rate). The costs of equipment, overhead, and labor are the same as they were before they started using SPC software, so essentially you have zero cost on all of those.
In words your boss will care about: your profit margin just increased exponentially. Without raising prices, you’re able to make more money per unit than before. At this point, you can do at least three things to grow that don’t require killing jobs:
- lower prices to increase market share (you can make the same margin as before but at a more competitive price point)
- keep prices the same (and make more margin than before)
- raise prices because the quality has gone up and the price is justified (you can make a much higher margin than before)
With any of these options, you can invest the increased profits in expanding into new markets, making new products, or creating more demand for existing products. All of these investments would create new jobs.
4. It only affects the quality department.
W. Edwards Deming believed that improvement in any company relied heavily on viewing the organization as a complex system with several internal and external interrelated connections and interactions. Seeing the organization in terms of isolated departments puts you in a constant state of symptom management. Conversely, seeing the interconnectedness of all of your processes, departments, and environmental factors allows you to focus on cures.
To quote from The Book of Statistical Process Control:
“Morale will most likely increase as SPC is implemented. As morale improves, workers take more pride in their work. More pride improves product quality. Better products and lower prices increase sales and product demand, which in turn creates more jobs.”
–The Book of Statistical Process Control p.15-16
Improving your quality improves all other parts of your organization. Just for its ability to improve morale alone, SPC software’s results are worth it. Improved morale is key to employee retention, sales, and marketing. SPC software and the results it produces affects your organization far beyond just the improvements it makes in your quality department.
5. Too complex and hard to adapt to.
This is one of our favorites.
From a technical standpoint, this is just patently untrue. For your operators, if they’re already doing normal and standard quality measurements and know how to punch numbers into a keypad, it’s not too complex. Regarding managers, if they know how to run reports and read charts, it’s not too complex. And of course, for the engineers, nothing is too complex.
We can’t speak for all providers’ SPC software programs, but for us, we can teach you how to use the software in one day. Beyond that day, we provide free customer and technical support support, and the software setup time is negligible. You can go from installation to data entry in as little as 30 minutes.
From a motivational standpoint, we have found that most organizations vastly underestimate their employees’ ability and desire to “get on board”. Employees take pride in making quality product. The tools and insight provided by SPC software can show them what it takes to produce it.
6. We don’t need it because the defects always fall within the scrap allotment parameters.
We can say with 100% confidence that your boss would LOVE to significantly reduce scrap costs. Year after year, quarter after quarter, they are under stress to hit projected numbers for profitability. Reducing scrap levels is one of the easiest ways for them to do that. Mention that SPC software can pay for itself in the reduced scrap cost alone and you’ve already made a pretty convincing argument. For Foam Design, SPC software paid for itself in a matter of weeks. For Portage Plastics, it paid for itself in the first year and they cut their product return rate to less than half a percent.
7. It’s only useful on isolated projects where a customer requires it. There’s no long term value.
First, while SPC software is certainly valuable when the customer requires it, it’s extremely short sighted to say that there’s no long term value.
W. Edwards Deming’s third point in his 14 points for management talks about reducing or eliminating the dependence on time consuming and costly mass inspection to achieve quality. Instead, he emphasized using process control through statistical techniques. SPC software is a valuable tool when it comes to achieving and maintaining quality. It can set you on a path toward continuous improvement.
Second, knowing that you will have future customer audits from time to time anyway, recording all of your data with SPC software allows you maintain a constant state of audit readiness. When a customer asks you what your quality is like, you already have the data to show them. No need to sort through paper or try to remember which spreadsheet you saved your information on. It’s all right there.
Third, if you’re already collecting data on paper anyway, you might as well get more value from it. In addition to being able to look back at and analyze historical data, if your SPC software is real-time, you are also able to take advantage of early detection. Getting an alert ahead of time that a process is about to go out of control is WAY more valuable than finding out after the fact. It’s the difference between “you’re about to waste a bunch of money if you don’t change the course you’re on” and “you just wasted a bunch of money that you can’t get back”.
8. The ROI is slow compared to buying new machines.
This one is simple. We can show you ROI in as little as 2 months, whereas machines can take as many as 5-10 years. Additionally, the machine’s technology may be out of date by the time it starts meeting the ROI requirements. SPC software’s technology can be updated at any time without needing to purchase a new product. Our software is consistently updated and all active customers get free upgrades. Also, the yearly maintenance cost for SPC software is considerably lower than a typical machine’s. It never “breaks down”, so you don’t have to worry about unplanned downtime.
Additionally, SPC software can help you produce better results from your existing machines. This increases your ROI even more, not only on your SPC software, but also on your machines.
Any way you look at it, there’s no question that SPC software is worth it’s weight in gold. Some people just take more convincing than others, especially when myths like these exist. If you’re still having trouble convincing your boss that SPC software is worth it, fell free to reach out to us. We’ve been dispelling SPC software myths since 1983.