SPC also better known as Statistical Process Control, is not a new concept. Its origins can be traced all the way back to 1924. In this year, William Stewart at bell laboratories dared to develop a control chart and concept that claimed that the process could be under statistical control. He eventually went on to make note of his work in a book titled ‘Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control’ in 1931.
The prose became so popular that the SPC process gained quite a demand during World War 2, especially by the ammunition and weapons industry. Many were pushed to practice SPC control to seek more practical and efficient ways to manufacture weapons without compromising on safety.
As the war ended, so did the demand for the SPC process. It simply faded out of existence from America. However, one nation’s loss was another one’s gain, and just like that Japan began implementing the SPC process in their manufacturing industry, where it is still implemented today. After years of ignoring the practice, America too reintroduced the process into their workforce, where it has remained unscathed ever since 1970.
Today SPC has pervaded across the globe and is implemented mandatorily in many industries.
What is SPC?
There is no laymen’s way of explaining SPC, but we will try. SPC or ‘Statistical Process Control’ is basically the method by which the quality of a manufacturing process is both measured and controlled. Various machines and instruments are used to collect quality data via product or process measurements. The data thus collected is then quantified, measured and controlled.
SPC has proved to be quite an effective practice for manufacturing businesses to improve the quality of their product by improving the quality of their process. Managers can ensure that a process is operating at its best potential by consistently monitoring and controlling it.
For a much more comprehensive guide on the SPC process, we recommend you grab the manual published by AIAG aka Automotive Industry Action Group.
The Relevance of SPC Today
Many industries today are facing severe quality issues, add to that the fear of surmounting competition and you have the perfect recipe for chaos. Raw material costs are also continually increasing. None of the above-mentioned scenarios is something a company can successfully control.
So the wise thing to do is to control the factors that are well within your ability to control, which become your processes. The struggle for improved quality, efficiency and cost reduction should be a constant goal for companies to pursue. Many companies are still reliant on old, traditional ways of inspection to detect if there are any quality issues. However, this is not practical.
SPC process, if implemented properly can move a company from detection based on quality-based inspection very briskly. By persistent monitoring, a manager can detect errors before it is too late and you end up with the defective products. This is perhaps the best way to explain the relevancy of the SPC process today.
How to Use SPC Process
Here are the three steps that are used in the SPC process.
- Collecting and Recording Data
- Creating Control Charts
- Analyzing Data
Before undertaking the SPC control process one should ensure that the manufacturing process is evaluated to determine the main areas of waste. This waste can be scrap, rework and excessive inspection time. Hence, it advisable to apply the SPC model to these areas proactively. There should be a cross-functional team in place to identify the key or critical elements of this design. Data would be then monitored on these critical issues.
The Bottom Line
The SPC process is a mandatory practice in the manufacturing world, even as we venture further and further into the era of automation. Many institutions today offer Online SPC courses that are intuitive and teach their students a practical approach to conducting the SPC process. If you are someone who is keen on getting an SPC course certification, then we insist you get one online as the field today is hotter than it has ever been.
Also, for a much more comprehensive guide on the SPC process, we recommend you grab the manual published by AIAG aka Automotive Industry Action Group.