About Measurement Device Control

What is it?

Many people outside of the military and aerospace industries have not heard of it until the past decade when the USA automotive and appliance industries began to insist on quality assurance systems from their parts and materials suppliers.

It is growing and it represents perhaps the last major link in the Quality Assurance net that brings discipline to measurements in commerce. It makes quality measurements possible with a known, demonstrated statistical level of confidence.

As a bottom line, it provides at least the following capabilities for acquisition and use of measurement devices and the entire measurement system. It is the only way, as shown by experiences in defense & aerospace that reported measurements can be trusted to be within acceptable tolerance limits. Needless to say, someone first must provide the reasonable tolerances!

A functional measurement device control system:

  • Provides a current, updated inventory of measurement devices used in an enterprise to make things or provide a significant service, such as adjustments to operating equipment and other devices.
  • Assures that the inventoried measurement devices are suitable for their intended uses.
  • Assures that covered measurement devices are competently maintained and traceably calibrated at intervals between which a device calibration is not likely to vary outside acceptable limits
  • Provides a mechanism for replacement of measurement devices with correctly specified units and retirement of non-serviceable devices.

That is a big challenge especially to any organization that has gotten by in the past with a loose and undefined quality measurement system.

There are too many sad cases where the adoption of such a system by a large manufacturing organization performed poorly because it was adopted merely to go through the motions.

That is but a symptom of a worse disease. Many organizations went under in recent years, partially because their management was not in reality about quality assurance programs.

Better organizations make sure that the basics in every part of the enterprise system are correct, i.e. product, management, HR, production, marketing, and finance.

Get one major element wrong and you are likely to have another wrong, too, or go wrong quickly, especially in a hotly competitive market.

That’s another story, with a fictional title like: “About Management. Who is responsible?

Such different, but very real, thinking in manufacturing requires commitments, as evidenced by the work of many in the field (not the least being W. Edwards Deming) at the very top of any organization in order to be accepted by all throughout the enterprise!

There’s a list of some of Dr. Deming’s statistical papers on the web.

However, if General Electric could do it with their Six Sigma programs, then it is possible in every smaller organization as well.

It is not easy to implement and it must start at the very top of the organization as has been amply demonstrated by General Electric, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Sony, and others and largely ignored or only waved at by many other US manufacturers including some well known, now failed steel companies!

It is always easier to implement in smaller organizations because there are fewer places to hide and someone not carrying their weight is recognized more quickly than in large companies.

Hope springs eternal that the focus of companies and government agencies will more and more aim at the real problems of management and operations and away from the fictions or makework activities that all too many “leaders” often promote to hide their inadequacies!