SPC after the ‘project’ Stage
How to move SPC ‘project’ activities into ‘serial production’ is an issue which must be carefully managed. Handing over methods and processes which have been developed and implemented by a specific project team is an issue facing all continuous improvement projects. We will look into some of the considerations during this article focusing particularly on the shop floor.
Successfully developing and deploying a SPC project is significant continuous improvement project. It brings together many departments including the design office, engineering, quality and operations who are all key stakeholders. The project itself involves developing new processes and working methods for all departments and results in significant culture changes within the organisation.
After the ‘project’ stage has been successfully completed it is time to move the new methods and processes into the serial production environment. This critical stage is overlooked and can be the downfall of the project. If the benefits of SPC are to be sustained and the new methods really adopted, then the handover needs careful planning.
In this sense, the SPC project is no different to the general issue of sustainability of good practice in an industrial environment. The transition from the project mode (with a project manager, project team and resources allocated) to series day to day working is a crucial step that cannot be overlooked.
SPC as a production tool
Possibly the single most important point which determines the ongoing success of the project is having the full support of the production team, and whether they positively adopt the new methods on the shop floor.
It is here where the products are made, where operators measure the parts, collect data and will use SPC as a process control tool. This is also a highly pressured environment so any changes to the operators day to day working practices must be carefully considered as generally there is no room for tasks which take additional time.
It is important that operators view SPC as a ‘production tool’ to help them and not a hindrance and constraint. The SPC system must be integrated into the shop floor manufacturing system and managed the same as any other tool.
For this reason, it is necessary to include production early in the project development phase – both to develop the best operator working practices and also facilitate a smooth handover.
SPC Software system – simple and robust
Using a software which can be integrated into the existing shop floor and IT environment is critical. Rather than adding additional tasks, a good software such as SPC Vision will facilitate production tasks, making them faster and simpler for the operator. Examples of this include having a simple and industrial user interface, automatic input of measurement data, being able to connect measuring devices directly to the software to save input and recording time, providing clear work instructions, automatically detecting process deviations, etc.
These features mean that SPC can really be used in real time on the shop floor as there is no time delay between the parts being measured and the feedback.
Using a good software also helps to standardise the process. For example – the chart layout and colours, statistical quality indicators, performance targets, SPC rules, lists of special causes and actions, etc.
Dynamic work instruction and direct input from measurement device
Quality ? Design ? Operations ? Engineering ? Who owns SPC and who is the end customer of the data?
I have heard this question a thousand times and this point will be discussed in a separate post. However, one thing for sure is that the SPC process starts on the shop floor with data collection and finishes with improvements for the shop floor. Therefore, a large part of the ownership must reside with operations. Part of the responsibility is to keep SPC alive active.
- Just a few minutes discussion each day on the shop floor has a massive effect on sustaining the activity and motivating the team. Ideally, this can be done as part of the daily ‘drum beat’ meeting which takes place in most workshops.
- Recognition and communication of success stories and the teams involved
- Visual displays on the shop floor showing SPC key performance indicators, charts etc
Histogram of process distribution
Integrating SPC into the company culture must include :
- Training for all stakeholders in basic SPC concepts and selected software tool
- Involving your employees (especially shop floor) in the change process
- Explain the objectives of the process:
- Purpose of SPC in the company
- Vocabulary and Ownership (Cp,Cpk, control chart etc)
- Ownership of the SPC approach and ‘brand’ image(internal and external)
These few topics are nothing new and are typical for any “improvement” activity in an industrial environment. However, you should have them in mind from the start of the project and understand that moving ownership to the production team can be time consuming activity. It is therefore important to include all stakeholders in both the development and deployment of the shop floor process. This includes identifying the required resource, training, communication strategy, shop floor leaders etc.
Operation Director, Infodream
– Article Jean-Luc Maire / Maurice Pillet, 2000
– Infodream experience for over 20 years in many SPC projects. Assistance and follow-up to the long term for companies of any size and any industry.
– The images above were taken from Infodream software: SPC Vision