Statistical Process Control

What Does Statistical Process Control Mean?

Statistical process control (SPC) is a quality-control approach for processes that use statistical information.


Some of the techniques used in this approach are attributed to scientists at Bell Laboratories in the 1920s.

Techopedia Explains Statistical Process Control

Statistical process control involves looking at process variabilities and using tools like control charts to try to refine a statistical process. Engineers may use standard deviation equations to streamline or refine results.

In general, SPC is intended to cut down on or get rid of "process waste." Engineers may look for bottlenecks or otherwise try to improve processes that deal with statistical information. This may involve looking at causes of variations and using logical rules to develop algorithms for control.

Statistical process control can be applied differently in various industries. For example, some SPC projects in a medical environment may look at items like laboratory test accuracy or at customer service items like how much time people spend waiting in line for care. Some of the same metrics can be applied to another type of business, such as an airline operation, where statistical processes may check on the accuracy of baggage delivery, flight delays or other aspects of service. Statistical process control can also be uniquely applied in manufacturing scenarios, to look at efficiency and productivity, as well as in quality control.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.