A Look in the Mirror: Robust SPC Software


Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Along with our users, we tout the benefits of SPC software.  We wrote the book on the core concepts of variation and how to observe it in real-time.  The idea of anticipating variation in products and processes, known as robustness, exists as an additional path to minimizing variation.  But that got us to thinking.  How have we as a software company – that helps others measure and act on variation  – developed a robust software ourselves?

Ronald D. Snee published an article in Quality Progress entitled, Shock Absorbers: Robustness anticipates uncontrolled variation in products, processes.  In it he educated us on the concept of robustness, recognizing first that products are not always used in quite the manner they were intended, and in some cases are abused.  He cited some examples that are quite easy to relate to such as, fender benders, locking your keys in the car, and outright crashes due to inattention.  Dr. Snee notes though, “the auto industry has responded by making changes to autos—reducing and sometimes eliminating the effects of these sources of variation in driver actions.”

This brings us to robustness and how it deals with variation.

With products and processes we recognize that variations are always part of the equation.  We account for these in an effort to improve quality. Previously, we wrote on the sources of variation being random or chance causes (now called common causes).  Not all variation is built into the system. Some variations have identifiable causes such as human error, bad raw materials, or equipment failure. There are assignable or special causes.  

Even SPC Software can Fall Victim to Lack of Robustness

One issue that Zontec realized years ago is that SPC software has to be simple and durable. More importantly it has to provide true insight into the stability and capability of the users processes. Virtually all SPC software on the market will purport to be simple to use, but does it have the correct rules and methodology designed into it to anticipate varying levels of user sophistication?  Can it plainly display stability and capability like Synergy SPC?

To use Dr. Snee’s words in the article, he identifies “user-friendly software” that enables people with different levels of computer literacy to obtain full results” as a prime example of product robustness.

In the same way the auto industry has sought to designed human error out of product variation, so too has Zontec designed Synergy to be robust.

The big question is: Is Synergy SPC software robust SPC software?  To put it another way, have we reasonably accounted for the unseasoned or indifferent user?  We firmly believe the answer is “YES!” but we invite you to schedule a demo and let us convince you.