Quality Advisor

Capability analysis: Can a process produce output within spec?

A process that is in control is not necessarily producing an output that meets customer or engineering requirements. To find out if your process is capable of producing outputs that are in spec, you should perform capability analysis.

Capability analysis is a set of calculations used to assess whether a system is statistically able to meet a set of specifications or requirements. To complete the calculations, a set of data is required, usually generated by a control chart; however, data can be collected specifically for this purpose. Easily create control charts and perform capability analysis using software like SQCpack.

Specifications or requirements are the numerical values within which the system is expected to operate, that is, the minimum and maximum acceptable values. Occasionally there is only one limit, a maximum or minimum. Customers, engineers, or managers usually set specifications. Specifications are numerical requirements, goals, aims, or standards. It is important to remember that specifications are not the same as control limits. Control limits come from control charts and are based on the data. Specifications are the numerical requirements of the system.

All methods of capability analysis require that the data is statistically stable, with no special causes  of variation  present. To assess whether the data is statistically stable, a control chart  should be completed. If special causes exist, data from the system will be changing. If capability analysis is performed, it will show approximately what happened in the past, but cannot be used to predict capability in the future. It will provide only a snapshot of the process at best. If, however, a system is stable, capability analysis shows not only the ability of the system in the past, but also, if the system remains stable, predicts the future performance of the system.