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A: Washington, District of Columbia, United States, B: Manhattan, New York, New York, United States

Shewhart & Deming Conceptualize and Introduce Statistical Quality Control in Manufacturing

4/1930 to 1950

"Economic Quality Control of Manufactured Product, published by American physicist, engineer and statistician Walter Andrew Shewhart of Bell Labs in "Bell System Technical Journal IX, No. 2 (April, 1930) 364-89, and its expansion in book form entitled Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product issued by Shewhart in 1931, represent the first publications on statistical quality control in manufacturing. 

"Shewhart framed the problem in terms of assignable-cause and chance-cause variation and introduced the control chart as a tool for distinguishing between the two. Shewhart stressed that bringing a production process into a state of statistical control, where there is only chance-cause variation, and keeping it in control, is necessary to predict future output and to manage a process economically. Dr. Shewhart created the basis for the control chart and the concept of a state of statistical control by carefully designed experiments. While Dr. Shewhart drew from pure mathematical statistical theories, he understood data from physical processes never produce a 'normal distribution curve' (a Gaussian distribution, also commonly referred to as a 'bell curve'). He discovered that observed variation in manufacturing data did not always behave the same way as data in nature (Brownian motion of particles). Dr. Shewhart concluded that while every process displays variation, some processes display controlled variation that is natural to the process, while others display uncontrolled variation that is not present in the process causal system at all times" (Wikipedia article on Walter A. Shewhart, accessed 01-08-2013). 

In 1939 Shewhart issued Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control . . . With the editorial assistance of W. Edwards Deming. Strangely the book was published in Washington, D.C. by The Graduate School of the Department of Agriculture.  Shewhart and Deming's book was the first work to extend the principles of statistical quality control in industry to the wider realms of science and statistical inference. Shewhart “extended the applications of statistical process control to the measurement processes of science, and stressed the importance of operational definitions of basic quantities in science, industry and commerce . . . [Statistical Method] has profoundly influenced statistical methods of research in the behavioral, biological, and physical sciences, and in engineering” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).

In July 2014 a 21-minute radio interview with Deming was available from the Internet Archive at this link. Thanks to John F. Ptak for this reference.

Shewhart’s long and fruitful collaboration with the physicist, statistician and consultant W. Edwards Deming began in 1938. It involved work on productivity during World War II and Deming’s championship of Shewhart’s ideas in Japan from 1950 onwards, which was “the catalyst that gave birth to Japan’s industrial efficiency and emphasis on highest attainable quality of manufactured products” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). Only after Japan successfully adopted Deming's ideas, and set higher standards for manufacturing, did competition motivate American manufacturers to aggressively implement statistical quality control in the United States.

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