AT SIGMA SPC FAQ
Real time Statistical Process Control for Windows

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  1. Which operating systems does Sigma run on?
  2. Does it support ODBC interface?
  3. Are data acquisition screens user configurable?
  4. How does Sigma SPC flag the user that the point just entered is out or control?
  5. Does software support Multiple users?
  6. Is software TCP/IP and Netmanage Chameleon 4.6 compatible?
  7. Does software have the capabilities of data entry measuring by part or by characteristic?
  8. Does Sigma SPC allow context switching (i.e. is it possible for a user to switch from entering data on part A to entering data on part)?
  9. Does software support varied subgroup sizes within a part characteristic?
  10. What about notes for a subgroup?
  11. Are there limits to the number of notes available for each point?
  12. Does Sigma SPC support null values?
  13. Is the subgroup size unlimited?
  14. Does the software support the cloning of part definitions?
  15. Does the software support the cloning of method definitions?
  16. Which graphs/charts are supported by Sigma SPC?
  17. How are data points archived?
  18. How does Sigma SPC support security?
  19. How does the Sigma SPC allow the person entering data to edit a previous data entry within subgroup?
  20. Does Sigma SPC allow the person entering data to edit previous data entry after subgroup has been time stamped?
  21. What is the limit of characteristics that can be setup for one part
  22. Does Sigma SPC support "drill down" capability (ability to double click a point on a xbar-r chart which would bring up detailed information?
  23. Does Sigma SPC allow option for both manual data entry or by RS232?
  24. Does Sigma SPC support the use of multiple COM ports?
  25. Is Sigma SPC email enabled? (Can software be configured to "E" mail specific personnel for out of control situations?)
  26. Does Sigma SPC offer a quality plan feature and monitor data collection activity relative to the plan?
  27. Does Sigma SPC offer subgroup labeling (operator, machine #, material lot #)?
  28. Does Sigma SPC offer part labeling (cavity #, serial #)?
  29. How does Sigma SPC handle work instructions?
  30. Can multiple charts be viewed simultaneously?
  31. Does Sigma SPC support DataMyte interface?
  32. What languages does your software support other than English?
  33. What is your training policy?
  34. Any special server software/ hardware required?
  35. Which standard equipment for collecting data is supported?

1. Which operating systems does Sigma run on?

2. Does it support ODBC interface?

Yes, All ODBC sources supported. Direct native support, which is faster and many ways better, for

* In addition, 32 bit version supports MS Access v7.0+ through native DAO (Jet engine), Microsoft’s own engine.

3. Are data acquisition screens user configurable?

Yes, the entry screen mirrors the structure of the destination database. Fields can be Date, Time, string (any length), and numeric. Fields can be auto-filled (as in Date/time stamp) or manual. String and numeric fields can be protected, (for instance Date/Time stamp that user should not edit), default value (always pre-fills value), repeat previous value (defaults to last records value), required/optional (won’t save until some fields entered). Any field can be linked to auto collection from a gage via a serial port. Each auto-collect field can use the same gage or a different gage. The entry screen contains a thermometer that shows the operator the current value relative to its specs and engineering limits (also called reasonable limits). If value is outside specs, it turns red, while those values trending out of control turn yellow. As user tabs to each field the thermometer changes context to that field. For fields without specs, it can use a percent of value or fixed value to infer some limits for display. You can turn this off completely. This functionality exists in Data Pipe. Entry screens are usable regardless of whether serial data collection is used.

Second option is auto-collection without entry screens at all. This can be the preferred way as no operator error would exist in the data entry.

File Sweep : Many gages exist as part of a computer or other intelligent device. If the station can produce a text file, our W-Import program can time-stamp the data and auto sweep it into a database and trigger SPC. Also, through the network file system or FTP, the gage could be DOS or Unix based and still have our software collect the data.

Serial (RS-232) port : The serial port is an industry wide standard for data collection. In addition to collection into an entry screen, serial data can be time-stamped and auto-collected to the database if your application allows.

The third option is to construct an entry screen yourself. Many collection operations must be customized beyond any one company’s ability to predict its future need. This happens much more than anyone will concede. Our architecture allows any entry screen to be used. You can use Visual Basic, Delphi, C++, Excel or any tool that can 1) produce a text file (we autoscan/sweep it in), or 2) can write to local database that we support (Paradox, Access…etc.). Most current tools support both. This ability cannot be over emphasized. The open architecture keeps your investment secure in the future. Any new breakthrough in software or other tool can be used in conjunction with the AT-Sigma system.

4. How does Sigma SPC flag the user that the point just entered is out or control?

Initially the banner part of the control chart will have its background turn red (for out of control) or yellow (run/trend). A Dialog box appears with several options. The dialog can be triggered on out of control and/or any of the Western Electric run /trend rules or user defined rules (all user selected). The dialog can require an operator response before they can proceed to anything else, including other programs (system modal box). The dialog contains entry drop down lists for 1) Cause, 2) Action 3) Memo/comment. The cause and action lists are pre-composed by your company for your specific process. The lists are contained in a database lookup table so virtually unlimited codes / descriptions can be created. The selections are stored in a database for further analysis. The pick list reduces typographical errors and allows consistent entry for Pareto Charts illustrating the causes for out of control conditions. When the dialog is up, the user has several buttons that allow more detail. You can look at the raw data in a grid, look at the details of the out of control or run (which rule violated, which variable), and look at Reaction Plans. The Reaction Plan is a very important feature. It can be a document in Window HLP file or any other viewer (Acrobat, Framemaker). The file can contain multimedia, images, voice instructions or anything relevant to the operation. Hypertext can walk the operator through checkpoints to insure proper measurement procedure and proper reaction to anomalies. Unlimited content allows you to use the proper level of assistance as needed.

For interactive use, a Status Grid shows summary information on each variable color coded. You can select which ones are worth looking at and fan open the charts. This saves time painting screen you may not want to look at.

5. Does software support Multiple users?

Yes, uses full database capability to lock / restrict users and create a robust production environment.. Can be network shared with appropriate licensing.

6. Is software TCP/IP and Netmanage Chameleon 4.6 compatible?

Yes.

7. Does software have the capabilities of data entry measuring by part or by characteristic?

Yes.

8. Does Sigma SPC allow context switching (i.e. is it possible for a user to switch from entering data on part A to entering data on part)?

Yes, AT-Sigma SPC can have unlimited configurations that are saved for easy switching between contexts of products or parts. Basically any product can be setup with its own database (or share a database with another station) and a configuration file that defines what fields to analyze and how (chart types, sample size, etc.) Once setup, the switch can be File | Open and the filename. That’s it! The old file is closed out and the new appears ready for input. We also use an MRU (most recently used) file list on the File menu so you can eliminate searching for the right path.

In addition, we support total auto-collection of data and context switching on the fly. We believe this is unique in the industry. By including a product field in the data (or any field that determines a ‘switch’), the software can automatically switch the new data into various databases and apply the appropriate settings. This allows unlimited switching and perfect transitions. For example, in an IBM coil product, data is produced by inserting the product into a fixture then gluing components to it. Although standard SPC techniques would infer that all fixtures were the same and data produced uniformly, the process was certainly a factor of which fixture produced the part. There were 12 measurements to be control charted. To solve this would take 1200 control charts! (100 fixtures x 12 measurements). This was impossible by any other means than the context switch. As the new data arrived, the software determined which fixture, switched to that database and analyzed the new data based on its 12 charts. Beyond initial setup, there was no impact on the operator.

9. Does software support varied subgroup sizes within a part characteristic?

Yes, Variable subgroups transition based on the contents of any field. You can use a Lot or Group ID field to infer the grouping of the samples or any other field that gives that information.

10. Notes for a subgroup:

*Number of characters is only limited by the field length in the database(user sizable). We use the size of the database field assigned to Comments to limit the user entry. Typical maximum is 255 characters. Each subgroup can have a Cause, Action and Comment assigned to it. See related explanation in answer to question #4.

11. Are there limits to the number of notes available for each point?

No, unlimited number of root causes codes and unlimited number of corrective action codes can be used. Note: Notes, causes and actions are stored in a database (we call them TAGS), so the maximum is the maximum record count the database supports. Cause codes and Action codes are also stored in a database and therefore capacity for them is unlimited. The code lists themselves use positive integer numbers so limited to 32768 pick list selections each.

12. Does Sigma SPC support null values?

Yes.

13. Is the subgroup size unlimited?

In the current version of Sigma SPC it is fixed or variable up to 400 points per subgroup.

14. Does the software support the cloning of part definitions?
Yes

15. Does the software support the cloning of method definitions?
Yes

16. Which graphs/charts are supported by Sigma SPC? (X indicates support)

Xbar-r X

Histogram X

P Chart X

Xbar-s X

Capability Curve X

C Chart X

Median-r (w/ individuals) X

Accumulative summation X

NP Chart X

Individual Moving Avg X

Hist/Cap Curve Combined X

U Chart X

Moving Avg X

Pareto X

 

17. How are data points archived?

Our two companion products (Data Pipe and W-import) provide a Store and Forward function that can upload or transfer records from the main database to another location. The state of the database is recorded so only new data is uploaded as needed. The Store/Forward process can be scheduled to run at certain times of the day, periods(xx minutes), manually or on each new incoming data cycle. Once uploaded, the main data table can be trimmed of the older records to keep ‘x’ number of records, ‘x’ days of data (using current date) so that local charts are insured access to enough history. This function is highly desirable as it allows a data collection station to become self administering in regards to data. If not included, there are always errors related to insufficient disk space, slow response on queries, sort and other operations regardless of which SPC package you select.

18. How does Sigma SPC support security?

Supports full security of the underlying database. In addition, provides password access to Manager mode, and production mode. Production mode limits station to subset menus, and limits access from setup / configuration data. Also, data can be added to, but once posted, cannot be changed without higher clearance. This is consistent with our open architecture

19. How does the Sigma SPC allow the person entering data to edit a previous data entry within subgroup?

For normal entry, once each record is posted, it cannot be changed unless you have Manager clearance. This keeps that data safe from tampering. For Manager mode, the data can be displayed in a table form, like a spreadsheet, and you can delete records, the sub group or change fields.

20. Does Sigma SPC allow the person entering data to edit previous data entry after subgroup has been time stamped?

Yes, this option is password protected so that only those with clearance can modify posted records.

21. What is the limit of characteristics that can be setup for one part

40 - This can be increased if required. The limit for analysis is 40, but the setup can contain up to 255 fields that can be used for time stamps or descriptives such as Lot, Operator or station.

22. Does Sigma SPC support "drill down" capability (ability to double click a point on a xbar-r chart which would bring up detailed information?

Yes, user can select data to be labeled on the control chart in addition to Date/Time. User selects a field to show on plot (e.g. Lot number). Also, simply clicking on the subgroup brings up more detail.

23. Does Sigma SPC allow option for both manual data entry or by RS232?

Yes

24. Does Sigma SPC support the use of multiple COM ports?

Yes, any entry field can use the same Com port or a separate one. Up to 16 Com ports supported. Limitation is based on operating system and availability of multi-port serial boards. We can support any COM port recognized by Windows.

25. Is Sigma SPC email enabled? (Can software be configured to "E" mail specific personnel for out of control situations?)

Yes, emails may be sent on the following events: Out of control, Out of Specification, Trend Alerts

26. Does Sigma SPC offer a quality plan feature and monitor data collection activity relative to the plan?

Yes, we do support an online quality plan, but no current monitor of it (in evaluation).

27. Does Sigma SPC offer subgroup labeling (operator, machine #, material lot #)?

Yes these labels can be queried and support "autofill" of these fields.

28. Does Sigma SPC offer part labeling (cavity #, serial #)?

Yes these labels can be queried and support "autofill" of these fields.

29. How does Sigma SPC handle work instructions?

We support online documents that can include work instructions, corrective action plans as well as links to document control for engineering. We support this by allowing any viewer to be launched from Sigma with a predefined path to the related document. This allows free form content to the extent you need it. It can be a simple text file of instructions or a full multimedia file that shows video of how to measure the part. The files can have hyper-links to walk a user through steps. Examples of viewers used by our customers : Adobe Acrobat, Framemaker, HTML (Web browser), Windows HLP file. This allows instructions in foreign languages. Embedded sound can make the instructions more helpful.

30. Can multiple charts be viewed simultaneously?

Yes, up to about a hundred. Actually there is no simultaneous limit, but the screen does create a practical limit. With color coding, 100 is very usable. You can then maximize the window or stretch it as needed. SPC analysis can be performed on the result of a SQL query. This allows multi-table joins across separate databases.

31. Does software support DataMyte interface?

Yes, we support virtually any RS242/serial gage.

32. What languages does your software support other than English?

Supports any language that Windows can support with our Language Support Kit (optional). It works by customizing the text used in the normal use of the program. For an intermediate solution, you can customize the help and instruction files. All fields and database names are already user defined so you can use appropriate names.

33. What is your training policy?

Training is available 1) on your site or 2) our site. Training is usually 1,3 or 5 days. Fee based upon number of attendees and number of applications presented. Details under separate cover.

34. Any special server software/ hardware required?

No

35. Which standard equipment for collecting data is supported?

Standard Equipment for Collecting Data

Have experience interfacing with, with no problems

Have experience with, but experienced minor problems

No experience interfacing with, but predict no problems

Can not interface with

TMI Digital Compression Tester TMI 17-04-00

X

     

Magna-Mike Model 8000

   

X

 

Ohaus Scale GT8000T

X

     

Ohaus Scale TP2KS

X

     

Allen Bradley's Custom Pad QS 92767

   

X

 

Minolta Colorimeter 200C

X

     

Comparator- Metronics

X

     

Mitutoyo Multiplexer Mig-2

X

     

Mitutoyo Mux - 200

X

     

Note: We staff engineers with experience in hardware interface design for a variety of reasons, so we believe we can interface to any gage that’s physically possible.