Manufacturers need proper automation, machines, and software to manufacture products faster and keep up with evolving customer demands. As production capacity increases, these businesses must boost their quality control capacity while reducing quality costs. 

Many manufacturers turn to statistical process control, or SPC, to achieve this.

Traditional SPC shows manufacturers what products and processes were in-control or out-of-control. However, some manufacturers benefit from getting this information in real-time instead of after the fact.

SPC is a way to oversee, manage, and improving a process through statistical analysis. SPC uses histograms and control charts to detect how consistent and predictable a manufacturing process is, and therefore how expensive it is to maintain quality. Through these charts, SPC helps quality teams check how variable a process is. For example, control charts reveal variance of process output over time. The charts compare this variance against upper and lower limits to see if it fits within certain variation levels. Processes that fall within normal variation levels are considered in control, and vice versa. SPC also gives insight into what factors impact that performance.

Real-time SPC, otherwise known as in-line SPC, is characterized by employing SPC during production. Real-time SPC is a way to collect product and process data as it unfolds, sending alerts to operators and plant managers to quickly prevent or fix defects before they leave the shop floor.

Real-time SPC helps manufacturers to boost both product and process quality at once, while minimizing costs. Some experts call it a lean way to constantly improve their quality efforts.