Variety may be the spice of life, but in a manufacturing plant it simply spells confusion and uncoordinated effort. This is where one manufacturing corporation was when about 30% of its operations were tracked using various statistical-process-control (SPC) methods, including a mix of dedicated data collectors and various software programs.
"We wanted to standardize and get away from expensive data-collection units that are great for collecting data, but lousy for manipulating it. We also wanted PC software that was user-friendly," said a quality director for the metal-stampings and welded-assemblies manufacturer in the Detroit areI. In addition, the company had reliability problems with the three different types of collectors.
The Solution was to purchase automated SPC software, SPC1+Pro, from Advanced Systems & Designs Inc., Troy, MI. Although other products were evaluated, one of the reasons for this choice was that the quality director was familiar with the product.
The company slowly phased in the new SPC system, first targeting those operators who were using data collectors. "SPC training on the basics is ongoing and done on an as-needed basis. One of the obstacles we had to overcome was some people's fear of computers, but working with them one on one helped eliminate this concern," said a quality technician. "It's easy to train people on the system and it's user-friendly enough so that they can go quite a way on their own," he added.
Because this manufacturing company customizes its products, it waited until new products were ready for production before making the switch to the new SPC software. This strategy meant that all but one department was running the new system within 5 years, the quality director said. "As we progressed to new jobs, we designed new gaging and implemented the centralized SPC system," he added.
One wrinkle that was worked out with Advanced Systems & Design was to customize the software so that it would accept data directly from the company's coordinate-measuring. "We needed conversion software to gather the data and manipulate it," said the quality technician.
Overall the new SPC system has proven worthwhile. It has helped this company boost its average Cpk by 40%, reduce bad starts on new products, and it made real-time information available, Commans said. In addition, 92% of process characteristics are at a Cpk of 1 or greater, up from 60% before the automated system was implemented.
In my experience with ASD I have found their representatives to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful. The software I have used is among the most comprehensive and user friendly systems I have tried. I would recommend them to anyone trying to establish real time data collection and analysis.
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