Implementing Statistical Quality Control Effectively

Improving quality without increasing costs is a challenging task. Purchasing higher quality supplies or high tech machinery may be the answer, but it may prove too expensive. The application of statistical quality control techniques may be the solution to this dilemma.
Statistical quality control is the application of statistical techniques to improve or maintain quality of products, services or processes. This should not be confused with Statistical Process Control, which is just one tool of statistical quality control and is focused on monitoring and controlling variations in processes. Other major areas of statistical quality control include descriptive statistics and acceptance sampling.
Normally, using statistical techniques costs much less than other means of improving quality. Statistical quality control is also a major component of Total Quality Management. Some of the major reasons why it is popular in advanced companies are:
Cost of statistics software and training is usually less than major equipment. Although many of the computations could be done manually, it is usually advisable to purchase computer software so that it could be done faster and more accurately. Compared to the price of major equipment, the software is relatively inexpensive.
Preventive action can be taken. Knowing when a variation is starting to go out of control means it may be possible to take remedial action before actual or worse damage results. Reliance on guess work may result in action being premature or done too late. Tools like control charts provide accurate and objective data of the variances to aid in controlling.
It is not subject to depreciation. The knowledge acquired through training becomes a permanent upgrade since this capability will not degrade over time. In the case of the software, it is subject to wear and tear and will usually be replaced only when there are much better versions.
Savings result from less rework. The application of statistical quality control methods has proven effective in minimizing rework in most manufacturing companies. This results in huge cost savings.
Savings from more accurate and possibly less sampling. Knowing the scientific way of sampling will enable companies to make more accurate estimates and may save on the amount of samples taken for inspection. Sampling is frequently the only practical way since 100 percent inspection is tedious and costly to perform. There are also some products that are destroyed when inspected and so it is not possible to inspect all of them.
Statistical quality control can set acceptable standards for coordination. It may be possible that engineers have designed specifications that are too stringent for the production department to be able to manufacture the item within budget. With proper application of statistical techniques, it may be possible to correct the problem before it becomes too costly to fix. The engineers may find out that a lower tolerance is acceptable so that an item can be manufactured economically.
Statistical quality control is an essential tool in many businesses. Its proper application can produce significant improvement at a minimal cost.
For an introduction to the topic, BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, conducts an excellent seminar on this topic entitled “Statistical Quality Control.” Contact (2) 727-5628/8860 and (915) 205-0133 or visit for details.

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*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, August 26, 2012. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.