Are you monitoring vital behavior using Statistical Process Control (SPC)? Operating a business is is all about knowing what is going on across all of your platforms. For many who hear that statement, there are objections to the concept. Some feel it is micro-management. Others feel that monitoring that level of detail is just not reasonable, within the numbers of hours available during a work week. Not paying attention to details and trends can lead to some nasty surprises. Quality of product and process can slip, leaving customers disgruntled and unhappy. Using the right tools, with the right practices, businesses can keep a finger on the pulse of their operations.
Statistical Process Control (SPC) Monitors Behavior
The concept of using a control chart to monitoring statistical behaviors was introduced by Walter A. Shewhart while working for Bell Labs in the 1920’s. Shewhart and his staff at Bell Labs understood the importance of reducing variations in the manufacturing process and being able to closely monitor statistical behavior. Today, the process of Statistical Process Control (SPC) control charting allows a business to record data, then monitor the statistical behavior to see if trends or shifts are starting to occur. It creates an understanding of what an unusual event is (spikes of data either high or low) as compared to what typical process performance looks like (common cause or natural variation). This gives the Lean Six Sigma professional the opportunity to analyze and understand unusual behaviors, determine the cause of those outliers, and understand their importance. The statistical behaviors then become more clear and give Lean Six Sigma professionals the ability to more accurately control what is really important to the business.
Leading up to and during the intense manufacturing period of WWII, control charts were a crucial part of our manufacturing success. Afterwards, the use of the tools slipped in the US, but took on another life in post-war Japan. In recent years, the use of SPC has significantly grown with the growth of quality and continuous improvement initiatives, especially with the broad acceptance of Lean Six Sigma practices. The use of these control methods have been greatly enhanced by digital software statistical and data collection systems.
For the Lean Six Sigma professional, the SPC is a crucial tool in their everyday practice.
If you would like some free SPC Excel templates to download, the following charts are available:
- Variable Data
- Individuals and Moving Range (X and MR or I and MR)
- Average and Range or Average and Standard Deviation (X-bar and R or X-bar and S)
- Estimated Weighted Moving Average (EWMA)
- Cumulative Sum (CUSUM)
- Attribute Data
- Proportions (P and NP)
- Defect Count (C and U)
What success have you experienced with SPC charts?