Walter A. Shewhart

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Walter A. Shewhart
March 18, 1981- March 11, 1967

Walter Andrew Shewhart is regarded by many as the “father of statistical quality control.” He was born in New Canton, Illinois on March 18, 1891 to Anton and Esta Barney Shewhart. Walter attained his bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Illinois in physics and graduated with is PhD from UC Berkely in 1917. Throughout his adulthood, he was a professor at both universities and ran the physics department at the Wisconsin Normal School in LaCrosse. Shewhart also gave lectures at University of London, Stevens Institute of Technology, the graduate school of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and in India on issues of quality control and applied statistics. Shewhart’s professional career started in 1918 at Western Electric in Illinois in the inspection-engineering department. After 6 years at Western Electric, Walter joined Bell Telephone Laboratories. When he joined Bell Telephone, they already had a major issue with the percentage of repairs and failures on their transmission systems. They had identified the issue but did not know to resolve issues with the variations that existed.  Shewhart took on this process management challenge of reducing the number of non-conformities. In order to resolve this issue, Shewhart set up many experiments to collect data to be analyzed. He learned from the data collected that some variation behaved in a controlled manner that was natural to the process while some variation was uncontrolled. These variations became known as assignable-causes and chance-causes variations. He developed a statistical process charts to differentiate between the two causes. He defined three steps for quality control as specification, production, and inspection. Whenever there were points outside of the limits on the chart, special attention was given to that process and corrective action was taken to resolve it. The charts were also aimed to help managers with their decision-making...
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