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What Is Process Capability?

Article Details
  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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In a nutshell, the term “process capability” refers to the ability of a certain procedure to generate a certain product. Within this definition, both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the process are measured. Process capability can also test the quality and excellence of the created product. The term is usually used in industrial and business fields to determine costs and profits.

Determining the process capability can involve calculations with different variables. These variables can include time, raw materials, labor, and electricity. Given these factors, an analyst can determine how long it takes for the final output to be produced and how much it is going to cost. In determining the cost, the calculation also helps the company establish a final retail price on its products that will appeal to the clients. If the cost or the price is higher than that of other competitors, then the manufacturing process may be not as efficient.

When testing for the product quality, process capability can involve some batch tests. These tests determine how one product can vary from another. Take, for example, the manufacturing of shoes that are generally 10.23-inches (26 cm) long. A sample batch of 10 pairs can be manufactured, and each shoe can be measured accurately to see if it deviates from the specific measurement. If the shoes are manufactured to have noticeable variations from the specified measurement, then their quality may not be as good.

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Aside from the manufacturing process and the product quality, process capability also examines packaging and delivery stages. This ensures that not only the products are made with quality, but that they are also delivered to the consumers on time. Even routes of the delivery trucks are studied and changed if needed to make distribution more efficient.

Many companies have adopted the “Six Sigma” approach to measure their process capability and ensure that all production stages will be free of errors. A newly-established manufacturer may start out at “sigma level” one, in which the process can still yield over 60% of defective products. As time passes, the manufacturer should be improving and decreasing the defective percentage. In the sixth sigma level, there should only be a marginal 0.00034% defect on the product, so it should be 99.99966% error-free. A manufacturing process that reaches this level can be said to be of very high quality, but that does not mean there is no more room for improvement.

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