Saving Money and Time With SPC: Arkwright Inc.



Statistical Process Control (SPC)



Real-time SPC saves time for both quality control and engineering personnel. “What used to take three days takes one afternoon,” said one process engineer.

Arkwright Inc., a digital media paper and film manufacturer headquartered in Coventry, Rhode Island, employs more than 300 people, and operates four manufacturing facilities and 10 distribution centers. As an outgrowth of its corporatewide Six Sigma program to continuously improve product and process quality, Arkwright installed WinSPC software from DataNet Quality Systems of Southfield, Michigan, to perform real-time statistical process control (SPC) at its facilities in Coventry and in Guilford, Connecticut.

“Now, we look at our data to understand what could happen, rather than what has happened,” said Shannon Tiso, a quality control manager at Arkwright’s Guilford facility and the project lead for the SPC software implementation. “Real-time SPC gives us the ability to quickly produce performance, shift, and incoming material reports. It used to take nearly a day’s worth of time to produce only half that information. It takes literally moments using WinSPC.”

The quality control department in Guilford performs up to 20 various sample tests on the company’s products, including tests for pH, viscosity, solids, smoothness, gloss, and haze. If test data fall outside control limits, WinSPC visually alerts the quality control technician and forwards the questionable data to an appropriate product engineer. Additionally, the software stores notations of assigned nonconforming material reports and other pertinent notations, such as product waivers, engineering requests, and more. These features are critical to improve shift communications and detect quality issues early in the process. Arkwright plans to expand its SPC program to include shop-floor processes, enabling the measurement of performance, temperatures, line speed, weights, and more.

Real-time SPC saves time for both quality control and engineering personnel. Previously, to perform statistical analyses, the quality or engineering team had to extract data from the legacy SPC tool and import them into Excel. The team then imported the data from Excel into the statistical-analysis software system. Since the new software implementation, “what used to take three days takes one afternoon,” says Monica Whelan, an Arkwright process engineer who is responsible for interpreting and reporting product quality data.

The business case for obtaining WinSPC began during a Six Sigma Green Belt project to improve process quality and productivity. During the project, Tiso identified five charts and reports that she needed to review each day to achieve her productivity and quality goals. She calculated that it would take up to 11.25 personnel-hours per day to produce the necessary data using Arkwright’s current SPC process. According to her computation, the cost of the software would be recovered within two months of implementation.

Tiso and representatives from the company’s engineering and information technology (IT) groups led the project for evaluating and implementing the real-time SPC solution. A survey was sent to all Arkwright personnel involved in the quality and engineering processes in an effort to accurately define the software requirements. The majority of the responses were surprisingly similar, indicating that the solution:

  • Must be easy to operate so that nontechnical personnel can take administrative ownership
  • Must operate in real time
  • Must offer monitoring, alerting, charting, analysis, and reporting
  • Must fit the company’s IT guidelines for central administration and maintenance, security, and scalability

After evaluating three SPC software packages, Arkwright chose WinSPC for its ease of use, ease of administration, and ease of maintenance. The second decision-making factor was the software’s breadth and depth of capabilities surrounding data collection, real-time control, monitoring, analysis, and reporting.

“We implemented WinSPC cold-turkey into our production environment in Guilford within 30 days of the purchase order,” says Tiso. “We configured our parts beforehand using the trial version. Once the licensed version was delivered, installed, and configured, we imported the parts we had created. It was easy enough to use that we were able to begin without formal training.

About DataNet Quality Systems

DataNet Quality Systems empowers manufacturers to improve products, processes, and profitability through real0time statistical software solutions. The company visions is to deliver trusted and capable technology solutions that allow manufacturers to create the highest quality product for the lowest possible cost. DataNet’s flagship product, WinSPC, provides statistical decision-making at the point of production and delivers real-time, actionable information to where it is needed most. With over 2500 customers worldwide and distributors across the globe, DataNet is dedicated to delivering a high level of customer service and support, shop-floor expertise, and training in the areas of Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing services.