Statistical Process Control are statistical methods used to help companies uncover and minimize variations in their production process.


Why Do We Need Statistics Anyway? Capable and Stable Processes

Why statistics? Because they are possibly the most useful tool we have to understand what might happen. Statistics make it possible for us to make fairly accurate predictions with small groups of data. It is not possible to predict individual events but statistics will give insight to the overall results. But let’s dig deeper on why do […]

How Do I Know If I Have Quality Issues?

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When is the best time to improve quality?

This is kind of like asking when is the best time to check the batteries in your smoke detector (Hint: BEFORE there’s a fire). Likewise, the time to check for quality issues is before a significant safety concern/disaster happens. Once disaster strikes, you’re usually too busy putting out fires to work on prevention.

If you successfully avert a crisis, you’re quickly back to business as usual–HOPING that no quality issues come up to put your job and company’s future at risk. As we all know, hope is not a plan. Hope is a wish. Hope is crossing your fingers that no fires break out instead of paying a small amount for batteries, a smoke detector, and a fire extinguisher. Regardless of whether you just averted a crisis (lost a customer, failed an audit, or worse) or haven’t had one in a while, now is the perfect time to start asking questions about improving your quality.

The cost of poor quality gets higher every day.

Those who don’t take the time to look into improving their quality suffer predictable fates. No one, regardless of size or prestige, is immune to this risk. As an example, the U.S. Air Force found poor quality on six of seven Joint Stars aircraft built by contractor Northrop Grumman. Forget about the maintenance costs involved in getting the existing planes back up to required performance levels. The big story is that the Air Force is looking for replacement aircraft, which means that Northrop Grumman will have to compete side by side with competitors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin to keep the business they already won–all while trying to convince the Air Force that the quality issues they just had won’t happen again.

What is a reputation of impeccable quality worth?

Will Rogers once said, “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute”. The cowboy actor was right. On paper, the cost of improving quality may be higher than the cost of doing nothing, especially if you haven’t had any recent quality problems. However, the risk is huge and the cost is high when you have a problem. Unfortunately, at that point it’s too late. You’ve either frustrated or possibly lost your customer.

Determining your strategy and putting a quality plan in place before it’s too late is your best option because nothing is more expensive than a lost reputation.


Learn more about SPC software and how it can help you improve and maintain your quality.

Statistical Thinking vs. Engineering Thinking

Statistical Thinking vs. Engineering Thinking

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thinking of the core concepts of quality and statistical process control we consider statistical thinking vs. engineering thinking.

Engineers have it made. In the world of engineering, the formulas are precise and definitive. When products are designed, the dimensions are exact, the calculations are accurate, and the resulting characteristics are known.

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What is Quality? Quality Defined

What is Quality?

Credit: flickr: Particularly Everything

In the 35+ years since our founding, we’ve detailed the concepts of quality and SPC to a great degree. However, it’s important from time to time to remind ourselves just what is quality and why is it important.

Before we can control quality, we need to understand what the word “quality” means. Quality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Each of us judges the quality of many items every day, and we each have a different idea about what quality is for each item. We know what we like or what we want, and what we don’t like or want. How we determine the quality of an item depends on both our personal preference and our frame of reference for that particular item. Read more

Why SPC Software Matters Part 3

Each and every important decision we are faced with needs to be based on a true and accurate representation of the facts. If decisions are based on questionable interpretation, the consequences can be significant. Choosing an SPC software solution, as a partner in your business, should be no different. Don’t fall victim to a solution that contains outdated technology or has been over promised. Your decision should be based on choosing a current solution that is rooted in strong SPC fundamentals, methodologies and applies SPC rules correctly.

While it may be easy to say the cost of a poor choice may be “cost” itself, it goes far beyond the economic impact. Yes, everything does eventually lead back to financial loss, but the impact can also be felt in five critical aspects of your business if the SPC methodology and rules are incorrectly applied. We will outline those areas of your business.

1. Product/Process

Defects, scrap, and rework are unfortunately often dismissed as a “cost of doing business” and measured in relative terms. These costs are real and can easily multiply due to the time it may take to rework and/or start over. By utilizing a sound SPC methodology, continuous improvement would naturally lead to a steady improvement in this most obvious vacuum of resources.

2. Time and Productivity

Another major consequence of using SPC incorrectly can be the affect it has on time management and productivity. This can be seen in terms of being “reactive vs. proactive”, time spent on making unnecessary adjustments, problem solving, production being shut down, decreased efficiency, incorrect identification of root cause, focusing on the wrong area of the process, or over-adjustment to production.

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