When you’re evaluating a statistical process control (SPC)-based software solution for quality management in manufacturing, one of your toughest challenges can be building a business case for it. When you’re a quality professional or engineer, the value of having easy access to data seems obvious. But a software investment can be a hard sell to any manufacturing organization focused on cost and payback opportunities for capital projects.
Fortunately, a real-time SPC software system can be used to drive improvement and reduce costs across your entire organization. Look at these areas to identify where cost savings could be found—and might form the basis of a business case for an SPC system.
Incoming Raw Materials / Supplies
Incoming inspection of raw materials data can be highly valuable in determining the best suppliers. However, in a paper-based system, the data are difficult to analyze. An SPC system can be used to quickly document the inspections and be available for analysis of the data.
When that collected data is available for analysis in real time, you can leverage the information with the various raw material suppliers to drive both quality and cost improvements.
A comprehensive SPC-based quality management system can be used to ensure, evaluate, and improve compliance to procedures. Enabling timed and scheduled checks—along with automated notifications when checks are due or missed—can help improve accountability and enable proactive process adjustments in real time.
An SPC quality management also helps simplify reporting and streamline audits. Unlike paper records, which take days or weeks to assemble for an audit, SPC software that centralizes and standardizes data enables instant information retrieval to prove compliance to auditors and respond to customer inquiries. In addition, paper, printer, storage, and retrieval costs can effectively be eliminated.
As in the case of compliance, complaint investigation can be significantly improved with a real-time SPC system. Data can be quickly retrieved to evaluate root cause of a variance or defect and also to determine whether other products might be affected.
During a recall, this quick retrieval and analysis of the quality data can be invaluable not only to the products affected by the recall, but in preventing in-process materials from facing the same issue.
The data retrieval and analysis that can be used for compliance and investigations can also be used to reveal opportunities for improvement across products, processes, lines, and plants.
When quality data is standardized and centralized, it can be used to break through preconceived ideas about problems and to prioritize improvements using easy-to-read visual reports.
Setting Up the “Yes”
Reductions in scrap, rework, product giveaway, machine setup, product sorting, and inspections—all these improvements directly impact the bottom line and are precisely the improvements that SPC targets. Who could possibly say no to that?
Often, the most difficult part of establishing a business case for SPC is quantifying how much money is currently being wasted on issues that, without clear data, remain invisible. To determine how much you can expect to gain from implementing a modern SPC solution, you’ll want to quantify your potential savings using baseline information about your current process, predictions based on past experiences, and predictions based on current production volumes and process knowledge. Examples might include:
- Reducing product giveaway by x% will result in $y savings.
- By performing a study on line 1, scrap was reduced by x% and resulted in $y savings. Extrapolate these results to other lines if an SPC system is implemented.
- The quality department spends x hours/week retrieving and organizing records. After implementing an SPC system, we expect this to be reduced by y hours/week, resulting in $z savings.
- Consolidating from 3 suppliers to 2 suppliers for our materials will give us a volume increase that will allow better pricing.
These examples are very general and serve only as a starting point, but they demonstrate the thoughts of every client who has driven cost down through improved quality.
A modern, comprehensive, SPC-based quality management solution provides bottom-line benefits that go far beyond traditional SPC. With a modern system you get all of the benefits of traditional SPC, allowing operators to quickly and efficiently make sound quality decisions about the product that they are running.
Then, you get instant product and process analysis that’s not possible with paper-based SPC and other manual data collection systems. That real-time access to aggregated, actionable data can transform your entire business.
Watch a Real-Life Business Case
For a real-world example of how transformative a modern SPC solution can be, watch our story about how a client took a plant from worst in the organization to first. Watch the video.