A case study: application of statistical process control tool for determining process capability and sigma level

PDA J Pharm Sci Technol. Mar-Apr 2012;66(2):98-115. doi: 10.5731/pdajpst.2012.00807.


Statistical process control is the application of statistical methods to the measurement and analysis of variation process. Various regulatory authorities such as Validation Guidance for Industry (2011), International Conference on Harmonisation ICH Q10 (2009), the Health Canada guidelines (2009), Health Science Authority, Singapore: Guidance for Product Quality Review (2008), and International Organization for Standardization ISO-9000:2005 provide regulatory support for the application of statistical process control for better process control and understanding. In this study risk assessments, normal probability distributions, control charts, and capability charts are employed for selection of critical quality attributes, determination of normal probability distribution, statistical stability, and capability of production processes, respectively. The objective of this study is to determine tablet production process quality in the form of sigma process capability. By interpreting data and graph trends, forecasting of critical quality attributes, sigma process capability, and stability of process were studied. The overall study contributes to an assessment of process at the sigma level with respect to out-of-specification attributes produced. Finally, the study will point to an area where the application of quality improvement and quality risk assessment principles for achievement of six sigma-capable processes is possible.

Lay abstract: Statistical process control is the most advantageous tool for determination of the quality of any production process. This tool is new for the pharmaceutical tablet production process. In the case of pharmaceutical tablet production processes, the quality control parameters act as quality assessment parameters. Application of risk assessment provides selection of critical quality attributes among quality control parameters. Sequential application of normality distributions, control charts, and capability analyses provides a valid statistical process control study on process. Interpretation of such a study provides information about stability, process variability, changing of trends, and quantification of process ability against defective production. Comparative evaluation of critical quality attributes by Pareto charts provides the least capable and most variable process that is liable for improvement. Statistical process control thus proves to be an important tool for six sigma-capable process development and continuous quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Models, Statistical
  • Quality Control*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tablets*


  • Tablets