8 myths about SPC software for manufacturing your boss believes (and how to dispel them)

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SPC software myths

Dispelling myths can be difficult, especially when they’re believed by decision makers who affect your job performance. We’ve compiled eight SPC software myths your boss believes and the logic that can help you dispel them. 

1. We have a Quality Engineer. Why do we need SPC software?

 

When we speak to quality engineers who are getting pushback from upper management, this is the number one SPC software myth they hear. What do you say to overcome this? 

The short answer: SPC software is a tool that automates large amounts of real-time quality data and alerts you when and where your processes are out of control, but it doesn’t tell you what to do or how to do it. Knowing what to do and how to do it is the quality engineer’s responsibility.

Saying that the engineer doesn’t need SPC software to fix or maintain your quality is kind of like saying you don’t need tax software to make sure your accountant is efficiently and correctly doing your taxes. It’s about having the right tool for the job.

2. It’s only for large, mostly automated manufacturers.

It’s important to start in 1924 when Walter Shewhart essentially invented statistical process control (SPC). And later, W. Edwards Deming took SPC to post war Japan where manufacturing was crippled and attempting to get back on its feet that the impact became obvious. Made in Japan changed over time from meaning low quality, cheap to high quality, dependable quality products. SPC was and is a tool that relies on methodology, rules, and a culture of quality. SPC software is accessible for all, regardless of industry, company 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 create value for their brand and company. 

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, healthcare is benefiting from SPC software. 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 efficiency and reduced man hours kills jobs.

Just because a company is focused on quality and uses SPC software doesn’t mean that they will eliminate jobs.

The benefits of implementing SPC software include, producing higher quality products with lower scrap rates in the same amount of time with the same number of employees. When organizations are able to do this they are creating tremendous value and customer satisfaction that is likely to increase business in the long run. 

In words your boss will care about: your profit margin just increased exponentially. Without raising prices, you’re able to lower costs per unit. 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 into expansion into new markets, making new products, or creating more demand for existing products. 

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 your entire organization. SPC software impacts your organization far beyond 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 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 quality engineers, nothing is too complex.

We can’t speak for other SPC software programs, but for Zontec, we can teach you how to use SYNERGY 100, SYNERGY 1000 and SYNERGY 2000 SPC software in one day. Beyond that, we provide customer and technical support as needed to help you continue to utilize all the features built into the software. Don’t worry about software setup time. You can go from installation to data entry in as little as 30 minutes

Employees take pride in making quality product. We have found that most organizations vastly underestimate their employees’ ability and desire to “get on board”. The tools and insight provided by SYNERGY 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, companies are under stress to hit projected profitability numbers. Reducing scrap levels is one of the 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.

While SPC software is certainly valuable when the customer requires it, it’s extremely short sighted to say there is 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. 

Knowing that you will continue to experience customer audits from time to time, recording all of your data with SPC software means you are audit ready. When a customer asks about your quality, you have results to show without sorting through papers or remembering which spreadsheet has your information. It’s available at your fingertips.

If you collect quality data with paper and pencil today, you might as well get more value from it. In addition to looking back at and analyzing historical data, with real-time SPC software you are able to take advantage of early detection. Getting an alert that a process is about to go out of control is significantly more valuable than finding out after the fact. It is 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 much longer. Additionally, the machine’s technology may be out of date by the time it starts meeting the ROI requirements. SPC software is technology and can be updated at any time without purchasing a new product. Our software is consistently updated and all active customers receive free upgrades. Also, the 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.

SPC software helps you produce more consistent quality 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.