Vol. 11, No. 4
April 2009
PQ Systems
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Keeping awake at the wheel:
Program keeps track, saves time

SPC charting programs only mimic old paper-based systems.
This one is different.

Viewing ordinary chart after ordinary chart, hour after hour, can produce the same kind of tedium that is sometimes responsible for drivers’ falling asleep at the wheel. When the unusual appears—an out-of-control situation, for example—the “driver” may have lulled himself into a state of inattentiveness, and the opportunity to analyze and correct a crisis may have passed.

An innovative SPC software program from PQ Systems will eliminate the likelihood of such lapses by alerting appropriate staff only when out-of-control situations demand attention. The product will be released in the second quarter of 2009.

CHARTrunner-m represents a new way of thinking about the workflow when using control charts. The repetitive work of interpreting control charts is taken on by the software. This offers two advantages: it allows users to focus more attention on their primary work of producing products or delivering services, and it increases the number of control charts that can be tracked without increasing the workload or expanding the costs. Instead of pouring over hundreds of charts looking for signals, workers are notified only when there is a need for someone to understand and respond to a statistical signal.


CHARTrunner-m works with monitor definitions. Think of these as virtual control charts. Hundreds or even thousands of these can be created, each one paying attention to data that is flowing into business systems. Each one is evaluating new data for out-of-control and out-of-specification conditions on a quality metric. When signals are detected, users are notified by e-mail or text message.

Although SPC software has been used for more than 20 years, many of these programs only mimic the paper-based manual charting systems of the past. It is true that the software has improved
things and eased some of the SPC burden. However, prior to CHARTrunner-m, SPC software has not really amplified what one person is capable of tracking and responding to.

Figure 1 shows a setup screen listing several monitor definitions.

Figure 1

CHARTrunner-m also takes a different view of data from that of other programs. Traditional SPC software tends to let people enter or import data, which is then managed by the SPC system. To be analyzed, the data must be “moved” into the SPC system. CHARTrunner-m, on the other hand, rethinks this premise as well.

Data is flowing into a database at a staggering rate. Much of the data that people want to track with SPC is already being gathered and stored by other systems such as ERP, LIMS, and general business systems. CHARTrunner-m leverages this data and the existing data entry workflows by analyzing the data as it arrives, in place; there is no need to import or transport data from here to there.

To be sure, CHARTrunner-m will change the way quality professionals do their work, giving them immediate access to information to improve processes continuously and assuring that their attention is directed to critical changes in these processes.

CHARTrunner-m makes sure that drivers won’t fall asleep at the wheel—at least once they’re off the road and behind their desks.


Copyright 2009 PQ Systems.
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