Statistical Process Control is a methodology used for measuring and controlling quality.
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SPC is used for quality control through reduction in waste. It is used in the Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, and Control (DMAIC) to keep processes optimised and free from defects. This data-driven (statistical) methodology ensures that quality achieved in the Improve phase is maintained.
Data is analysed using charts and graphs to determine the current capability of a process. Any variation in a process is reviewed. If it falls inside the expected range, then correction is not conducted. If the data falls outside the control limit, then the cause of the variation is identified and the defect removed or its effects is reduced.
Advantages of Statistical Process Control (SPC)
To ensure that processes keep providing optimum results through the elimination of waste, controlling what has been achieved by the implementation of Lean Six Sigma is vital. SPC is a tool that helps to:
- Reduce variability in processes
- Reduce process waste
- Keep the productivity at the optimum level
- Identify process changes
- Reduce the cost of production
- Bring stability in processes by keeping the outcome of processes consistent and predictable
After the implementation of Lean Six Sigma, the success of maintaining the enhanced productivity at low costs is done by using tools such as SPC under the Control phase of the DMAIC methodology.
A black belt holder in Lean Six Sigma has developed skills to plan, implement and maintain the results achieved through the use of Lean Six Sigma. Designing of subgroups, creating charts of implementation, conducting control chart parameter calculations, and implementing charts are the SPC skills that make a black belt holder capable of leading a team in the implementation of Lean Six Sigma.
Identifying Areas for SPC
Reduction in waste, defects in processes and improvement in processes are co-related. Identifying which areas will benefit the most by the use of SPC can mean more return on investment (ROI). If SPC is conducted as a part of DMAIC, then areas that need improvement are targeted during the analyse phase, but if SPC is used in isolation for controlling a process, then identification of area that require SPC for process waste removal and improvement is crucial for success.
To identify which area will benefit the most from SPC, asking the following questions may help:
- Is the data collected sufficient to identify the correct area?
- Is the data accurate and current?
- Is there existing analysis on the cause of waste?
- What benefit would the implementation of SPC on a process provide?
- Is the cost more than the expected return?
The implementation of Statistical Process Control helps to consistently keep processes optimised while achieving lower costs of production. Training in black belt in Lean Six Sigma involves the study of the theory and practical use of SPC and various other methodologies to develop processes that provide high value at low costs.
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