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Statistical Process Control: What Is SPC, What Is It Used for, and What Are the Benefits?

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Increasing competition has led to innovations in process control that ultimately leads to better and cheaper products. Numbers rule the universe and understanding them opens up all kinds of business opportunities.

Statistical process control (SPC) is about collecting data on production processes, interpreting that data, and using the data to improve the manufacturing process. SPC is used globally to increase profit margins and develop better products for consumers.

So, exactly what is SPC, how does it work, and what can it do for your business? Keep reading as we take a closer look at implementing SPC in the production of products.

What Is SPC?

An introduction to SPC should begin with Dr. Walter A. Shewhart. Dr. Shewhart was a physicist for Bell Labs specializing in statistics for small particle behavior before WWII. He is most directly responsible for developing SPC by being the first to apply statistical methods to manufacturing process control.

The US Military used SPC in the manufacturing of munitions and other wartime production. Yet, it wasn’t until the Japanese applied SPC to great success that it became a global standard. In recent years, SPC has become a widespread method of perfecting the production of any and all products.

By plotting production points on a control chart he noticed some variations were normal while others didn’t fit the pattern. These anomalies, among other things, represent inefficiencies in the production process. Through data analysis, researchers use SPC to improve and maximize manufacturing efficiency and quality.

Analyzing Statistics

Analysis of this SPC data on control charts puts variations into two categories, controlled (common cause) and uncontrolled (assignable cause). Common cause variations are native to the manufacturing process and can not be controlled. Assignable cause variations indicate an outside influence in the process is responsible.

Once identified, uncontrolled variables are adjusted to improve the process. All aspects of production management are analyzed including:

  • Job management
  • Scheduling
  • Data collection
  • Quality control
  • Engineering
  • Machine performance

Epicor® software crunches the data from all these variables and identifies problem areas. Next, we take a look at some of the areas of the manufacturing process that SPC can help improve.

Engineering

The term engineering encompasses all materials, machines, and aspects of human resources used to produce the end product. The software has a utility called “Engineering Workbench”. Project engineers adjust the method of manufacturing (MOM) by revising “Part Revisions”.

Scheduling

Manufacturing operations are constantly having to adjust processes to product demand. Manufacturers must make Many decisions concerning production needs on the fly. With SPC, these decisions are informed choices rather than educated guesses.

The Epicor® ERP software suite includes a powerful scheduling module that will help you fine-tune your planning and scheduling. You are able to input different scenarios and the software will crunch the numbers and make suggestions.

Materials Requirements Planning

These powerful software tools are particularly useful for custom order manufacturing. Material Requirements Planning (MRP) is a set of software utilities used to monitor and adjust the materials needed at any given time as needs change. The demand vs supply of materials on hand and the ordering of those materials is an important logistical aspect of manufacturing.

When demand is high and materials run low, the software gives amble warning to avoid shutdowns. Future demand is also controlled by inputting variables into the “Master Production Schedule”.

MRP has a vital role in manufacturing, but due to the complexity and volume of materials in parts involved, learning to maximize MRP can be a daunting task. We are here to help. Tomerlin-ERP offers Epicor® cutting edge MRP Training and after sale professional services that will get your people up to speed in no time.

Quality Control

Statistical quality control (SQC) is very similar to SPC in that both are processes to improve production quality. The main difference being, SQC includes quality control end data to make further assessments. Quality control professionals use a variety of tools to identify areas of production that could improve including:

  • Control charts
  • Scatter diagrams
  • Check sheets
  • Cause and effect diagrams
  • Histograms
  • Data stratification
  • Pareto charts

ERP has Enhanced Quality Assurance modules that make the considerable task of improving rejection rates. Defect rates are a constant enemy of production and often the downfall of manufacturing businesses.

Applications of Statistical Process Control

SPC is used as a tool to improve all aspects of every production stage. Speed of production, of course, is important to manufactures, but it is not the only element to improve with SPC. Implementing SPC in manufacturing:

  • Increases productivity
  • Increases quality
  • Reduces manufactured defects
  • Reduces energy and material waste

The applications are endless. Every single step in the process is important and through SPC control, manufacturers are able to see in the data what needs to be done to improve their operation. In this highly competitive industry, if you are not constantly looking to improve production processes, you will soon be pushed out by a company that does.

Work Smarter Not Harder

Technology is advancing at such a rate manufacturers must adapt or risk joining the reject pile. SPC may seem complicated, especially to those new to process engineering, but SPC is simply an orderly method for breaking down complex systems, understanding the variables, and always looking for ways to improve the process.

Are you ready to take your manufacturing venture to the next level? Tomerlin-ERP is standing by to address all your enterprise resource planning concerns. Call 818-887-9162 or Contact us online and one of our top industry consultants will fill you in on the details.