Long reserved for the manufacturing industries (automotive, aeronautics, precision mechanics, etc.), the SPC (Statistical Process ControlSPC (Statistical Process Control) is now gaining ground in the food industry. After all, the basic principles of SPC are not very complicated, since it involves collecting process data and analyzing it from a mathematical point of view: averages, standard deviations, 6 sigmas, detection of upward or downward trends.
Why shouldn't this first level of SPC be applied to the food industry, which has thousands or even millions of process data records in its plants?
This is all the more true given that many medium-sized agri-food companies have set up methods departments that are fully competent in studying the results provided by the SPC, drawing conclusions from them and implementing continuous improvement action plans that will enable the company to perfect its industrial processes and product quality.
How does SPC work in Qubes?
Qubes MES software collects a wide range of production and measurement data, both via operator input and, above all, through automatic collection from PLCs or IoTs (factory connected objects). This data is of course stored in the Qubes database for traceability purposes, but can also be directed to what are known as control cards, i.e. a special data storage structure that retains not only the value but also its time-stamp. It is not feasible to put all data under SPC control, but only the most critical data, that which will be studied by methods engineers and operational managers.
What about choosing between an MES module or specialized SPC software?
For a 1er At the statistical monitoring level, the SPC module of the MES software is more than sufficient, and this is the case with the Qubes software suite. Our agri-food customers can find all their functional requirements. For highly advanced analysis, however, specialized SPC software will be more appropriate, providing the additional information that SPC experts are entitled to expect. The advantage of an SPC module integrated into the MES is, of course, the absence of interfaces between the software. It is also important to consider the contextualization of data: the MES software will be able to link the data on the control chart to other information in its database, such as the batch number, the equipment used to manufacture the product, the team leader present that day...
The advantages of real-time SPC over analytical SPC
Using all the measurements reported, you can act and correct process parameters in real time, before product quality is affected. Non-quality is thus anticipated, rather than suffered after the fact.
You offer your operators the means to better visualize the expected product quality and to better know when to act. In this way, the responsibility and autonomy of operators can be enhanced, while product quality is optimally stabilized.