What is a Control Chart?

As a consumer receiving a manufactured good, you might not think twice about the shop floor or manufacturing plant that is responsible for the creation of your delivered good. You probably only care that the product works well and that the company stands behind it.

Thankfully, as a consumer, you oftentimes do not have to worry about the processes surrounding manufacturing quality control or manufacturing intelligence as some other stakeholder is ensuring seamless production flows. Oftentimes, these companies provide software solutions that are capable of producing control charts, or charts that can visualize and plot the data being collected on a plant floor.

Simply put, a control chart analyzes data from a floor, reviews the statistical patterns and determines if something in your process stream is fluctuating in an unacceptable manner.

“It’s like an early warning detection system,” Steve Wise, vice president of Statistical Methods for InfinityQS, says. “If data is behaving normally, the control chart will follow a bell-shaped curve. But, if it exhibits behavior that deviates from the bell curve assumptions, that’s when flags go off. These flags help companies detect if something is changing from the norm.”

The data obtained from a control chart allows an operator to discern whether a process needs to be adjusted to get back on target, or whether nothing needs to be done— something Wise refers to as the “do something or do nothing” aspect of control charts.

Operators must “do something” if a control chart points out that a part of the process is out whack and adjustments need to be made. That same group can also “do nothing” after consulting a control chart and seeing that processes surrounding manufacturing quality control are in line.

“The ‘do nothing’ concept prevents operators from over-tampering with their processes,” Wise explains.

 Whether you are in the manufacturing, automotive, food and beverage, medical and pharmaceuticals or packaging industries, control charts can certainly find a home within your business model. Designed to help you reduce scrap and the need for rework, control charts offer a multitude of benefits from enhanced quality processes to improved productivity to increased customer satisfaction and products to a greater bottom line.

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