Looking For Companies Who Use Statistical Process Control
February 10, 2011 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Investing money. How do I find out about if a company/business uses Statistical Process Control systems

I am looking for businesses or companies that use SPC pioneered by Walter Shewart and extrapolated by W. Edwards Deming. I would like to find a diverse list and present these to my financial advisor. Where would I go to find this information?
posted by goalyeehah to Work & Money (10 answers total)
I'm of the understanding that one of the most common incarnations of SPC is the Six Sigma system. You will likely have better luck googling for Six Sigma rather than SPC.

Wikipedia lists Motorola as the originators of Six Sigma, but I would argue that GE is pretty responsible for its spread.
posted by mhum at 12:09 PM on February 10, 2011

I guess I would consider Six Sigma being distinctly different than SPC, although they could both be used in the same company.

The classes I took that covered this topic included Operations Management, Managing for Quality, Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management, if that will help in your search.

One person's thesis in my program was using SPC during her internship at Grede Foundries in St. Cloud, MN. Additionally, some of my fellow graduate students were interns at the Electrolux plant in town.

Professional associations that may help you in your search include the American Society of Engineering Management and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The ASEM publishes an academic journal regularly with studies and papers that may help you find companies that do SPC.

Just doing a quick search on this pdf index of their journals gives a result:
Implementation of SPC Techniques in the PVC Pipe Industry, Hulya Yazici
Sep 90, 59-64

I think TQM is more similar to SPC than Six Sigma, so that may be another more specific term you can use in your searching.

Full disclosure: I am a member of both societies and have a masters degree in Engineering Management.
posted by jillithd at 12:59 PM on February 10, 2011

I think pretty much all the Japanese Auto Companies were big into Demming's management philosophies back in the 80s / 90s.
posted by COD at 1:01 PM on February 10, 2011

pretty much every big industrial company in the world uses these techniques. Penetration is also quite high in lots of other industries that feature repetitive processes.

Basically I don't see it as a viable investment methodology.
posted by JPD at 1:07 PM on February 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you might want a stat-arb fund.
posted by laukf at 1:26 PM on February 10, 2011

Sounds like you might want a stat-arb fund.

Statistical arbitrage has absolutely nothing to do with statistical process control.
posted by ssg at 1:39 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

You want to invest money in firms that use TQM, SPC, Lean or Six Sigma? What JPD said. Everybody uses them. In my 21 year govt career we've had all of these. As a non profit public sector entity we are the farthest thing you could imagine from what Deming had in mind, but we still try them. Not really a viable strategy, sorry.
posted by fixedgear at 1:47 PM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Anecdata: a company can have a very impressive implementation of SPC and still suck mightily. I am thinking of an avionics firm in the midwest which I visited a couple years back. Their system is right out of the Western Electric process control manual and the products are in themselves very good, but the place is wildly top-heavy with management and they make absolutely rotten strategic decisions. On the other hand, a company can have explosive growth with a process control system that comes down to "screw it, ship it".
posted by jet_silver at 2:41 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

jillithd: I guess I would consider Six Sigma being distinctly different than SPC

Fair enough. I guess I was lumping in SPC, Six Sigma, TQM, Lean, etc... all in the same bucket. Perhaps the asker can clarify exactly what they're looking for?
posted by mhum at 3:05 PM on February 10, 2011

I think I may have interned at the same avionics company jet_silver visited. They nominally had a Six Sigma system, with regular mandatory training, books on it all over the place, regular talks by the management, lots of mentions in the annual report... Inside the company it was a total joke. There was absolutely zero follow through or interest on the part of the engineers, who were far too overworked and stressed out to think more than two weeks ahead. Only the barest minimum of bookkeeping actually happened. I'm pretty sure the only way to figure out whether a management technique is really being used or is just a facade is by talking to employees.
posted by miyabo at 7:45 PM on February 10, 2011

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