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Why Doesn't SPC Work?

Part 2

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Why Doesn't SPC Work? Part 2

Written by Steven Ouellette Tuesday, 21 July 2009 00:00

Now at this point, you have a decision to make. You could say, I am not going to show this to anyone! There is no way that our people are going to use this chart to reactthey would go crazy! (Lest you are thinking I am making this up, this exact situation came up at a business where I consulted. The practitioner had been doing this chart for four years and had not shown anyone.) Or you could say, This is my process screaming at memaybe I should listen. So what is going on here? It all hinges on understanding how control charts work. They are not magicthey work for sound scientific reasons. The control limits on the chart are intended to show the expected variation range of the top five samples averages and the variation of the range across the bottom samples. However, the limits for the averages are calculated from the average range. I know, it seems weird, but the reasoning makes sense. Heres why: The purpose of a control chart is to identify when a process is being affected by common cause variability inherent to the current process or if it is being affected by common and special cause variability: something unusual to the process is affecting output. We use a control chart to help identify what these special causes might be so that we can eliminate them, leaving us with the true underlying process variation. Deming called this finding the process. Once a process is in control, its a lot easier to take the next step and improve the process by reducing that inherent variation or moving the average on target. Calculating the expected common cause variation of the process is a bit trickier than you might think. If I had a process with some special causes in it and I were to use all the data including the special causes to calculate my expected variation, it tends to inflate the limits and make it harder to detect that there are actually special causes. Makes sense, right? If I calculate the standard deviation across all the data points, including ones that are different due to special causes, Ill end up with a larger standard deviation than what the underlying process really hasleading to wider limitswhich leads to the classification in some events, as within the control limits, when in fact they are not.

http://csscu.com/index.php/six-sigma-heretic/4-published-heretic-articles/82-why-doesnt-spc-w... 8/9/2010

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