7QC Tools: Case Study on Interpreting the Control ChartsAmrendra Roy
A process was running in a chemical plant. The final stage of the process was the crystallization, which gave the pure product. There were two crystallizer used for the purpose, each operated by a different individual. The SOP says that crystallizer has to be maintained between 30-40°C and for 110 to 140 minutes. The data for a month is captured below
In order to understand the process, I-MR control chart was plotted (for simplicity, R-chart is not captured).
As we have learned from the earlier blog, the alternate points above and below the central line represents some short of stratification (see the short connecting arms and the concentration of data points in zone B and C).
We plotted the histogram of the above data set and kept on increasing the number of classes. What we saw was the emergence of a bimodal distribution as we kept on increasing the number of classes.
So, one thing was sure, there were two processes running in the plant. Now question that was to be answered was “What is causing this stratification?”
We started with crystallizer, as soon as we plotted the simple run chart of the process with groups using Minitab®, we could see the difference. Crystallizer-2 was always giving better yield. This should not happen because both the crystallizer were identical and were connected to same utilities. Then we thought about the different operators might be the reason for this behavior, as this was the only factor that was different for both the crystallizer.
When we plotted the same run chart with grouping, but this time operator was used for the purpose of grouping. We got the same result as was found with the crystallizers, the operator-2 working on the crystallizer-2 was producing more quantity of the product. This run chart is not shown here.
We further grilled down to the operating procedure adopted by the two operators. We studied temperature and the maintenance time using scatter plot. The results are shown below
Finally, it was found that operator-2 was maintaining the crystallizer-2 at the lower end of the prescribed temperature and for longer duration. Hence, specification for temperature and the maintenance time was revised.