Investigation of the failure of statistical process control in manufacturing industries in South Africa : case study - Atlantis Diesel Engines

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This work strives to give an insight into why Statistical Process Control (SPC), a quality management tool, is not yielding desired results in some manufacturing industries such as Atlantis Diesel Engines in the Western Cape. Statistical Process Control is an improvement technique that, when properly used, can improve both the quality and the productivity levels which may subsequently improve the competitiveness of a company. SPC achieves this by highlighting when a process is out of control. This happens at the source and a very early stage. The advantage of this is that in the case of manufacturing, rejects are limited and in some cases prevented depending on the relationship between process capability and specifications. The aim of SPC is to reduce variability of characteristics of a product. Wetherill and Brown (1991) revealed that many organisations regulated the quality of their products with SPC during the Second World War. This gives an idea of how long SPC has been in existence. The widespread use of SPC nearly came to an end in the 1960s. The reason for the abandonment of SPC by leading manufacturing industries in most parts of the world was not clear but the belief was that at that time industries were prospering, with little or no competition. However, in the late 1970s, the Japanese industries took the market by storm by the use of quality management techniques and tools, which were introduced by quality gurus such as Deming, Juran, Crosby and many others. This gave the incentive for organisations that wanted to be world class players in their respective sectors to reconsider exhaustively the use of SPC and its tools. In South Africa, predominantly in the Western Cape, SPC has been reintroduced in many companies over the past eight years. The introduction of SPC in most of the industries has not been a smooth transition as it was based on the misconception that if enough of the "right" improvement activities were carried out, then actual performance improvement would improve. There have been many factors hindering the successful implementation of SPC in manufacturing industries such as ADE. This research aims to identify these factors.

Includes bibliography.