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ASTM E2587-07e1

ASTM E2587-07e1

Standard Practice for Use of Control Charts in Statistical Process Control

2017-08-16 /Historical
Superseeded by:
Significance and Use:

This practice describes the use of control charts as a tool for use in statistical process control (SPC). Control charts were developed by Shewhart (1) in the 1920s and are still in wide use today. SPC is a branch of statistical quality control (2, 3), which also encompasses process capability analysis and acceptance sampling inspection. Process capability analysis, as described in Practice E2281, requires the use of SPC in some of its procedures. Acceptance sampling inspection, described in Practices E1994 and E2234, requires the use of SPC so as to minimize rejection.

Principles of SPCA process may be defined as a set of interrelated activities that convert inputs into outputs. SPC uses various statistical methodologies to improve the quality of a process by reducing the variability of one or more of its outputs, for example, a quality characteristic of a product or service.

A certain amount of variability will exist in all process outputs regardless of how well the process is designed or maintained. A process operating with only this inherent variability is said to be in a state of statistical control, with its output variability subject only to chance, or common, causes.

Process upsets, said to be due to assignable, or special causes, are manifested by changes in the output level, such as a spike, shift, trend, or by changes in the variability of an output. The control chart is the basic analytical tool in SPC and is used to detect the occurrence of special causes operating on the process.

When the control chart signals the presence of a special cause, other SPC tools, such as flow charts, brainstorming, cause-and-effect diagrams, or Pareto analysis, described in various references (3-7), are used to identify the special cause. Special causes, when identified, are either eliminated or controlled. When special cause variation is eliminated, process variability is reduced to its inherent variability, and control charts then function as a process monitor. Further reduction in variation would require modification of the process itself.

The use of control charts to adjust one or more process inputs is not recommended, although a control chart may signal the need to do so. Process adjustment schemes are outside the scope of this practice and are discussed by Box and Luceño (8).


1.1 This practice provides guidance for the use of control charts in statistical process control programs, which improve process quality through reducing variation and controlling the process to a particular target level or historical average.

1.2 Control charts are used to monitor product or process characteristics to determine whether or not a process is in a state of statistical control. When this state is attained, the true mean and the true standard deviation of that characteristic are constant.

1.3 This practice applies to variables data (characteristics measured on a continuous numerical scale) and to attributes data (characteristics measured as percentages, fractions, or counts of occurrences in a defined interval of time or space).

1.4 The system of units for this practice is not specified. Dimensional quantities in the practice are presented only as illustrations of calculation methods. The examples are not binding on products or test methods treated.

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

common cause; control chart; control limits; rational subgroup; special cause; state of statistical control; statistical process control; Control charts; Statistical process control (SPC)
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