Scott Alamanach’s picture

By: Scott Alamanach

 Don’t miss the author’s follow-up to this article, “Going Low Profile in Afghanistan.”

Profitable manufacturing requires efficiency, and this principle guides most (if not all) of our quality management systems (QMS). We’ve learned there’s little gain in correcting a production error if we don’t also find and uproot the error’s original cause. We’re so accustomed to this universal truth that we’re no longer even conscious of it. Sometimes, extraordinary circumstances can shock us out of this mindset and remind us that a quality system’s ultimate goal isn’t a more efficient organization. It is a quality end product.

FARO’s picture


Laser line scanning is ideal for non-contact measurement applications - including inspection, cloud- to-CAD comparison, rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, and 3-D modeling. Laser line probes use a triangulation process to find the position of objects in space. A high performance laser diode inside the unit produces a straight laser stripe that is projected onto a surface and a camera looks at the laser stripe at a known angle to determine the location for each point on the line.

How laser line scanners work

A 3-D laser scanner uses laser light to probe objects. It projects a laser line on the subject and uses a camera to look for the location of the laser line silhouette.

Depending on how far away the laser strikes a surface, each point on the laser line profile appears at different places in the camera’s field of view. This technique is called triangulation because the points on the laser profile, the camera, and the laser emitter form a triangle.

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By: David Millar

The moment for action in the United States on climate change has arrived in earnest.  With the election of President Obama and increased majorities of Democrats in Congress, there is unprecedented momentum to pass comprehensive climate legislation that caps the aggregate amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere and which would then decline over time through the year 2050. 

The president and his allies in congress have expressed their intentions of achieving economywide greenhouse gas reductions by enacting a cap-and-trade system.  Cap-and-trade is a market-based approach to controlling pollution, meaning emissions are turned into a valuable commodity that can be traded among market actors.  This reliance on market-based mechanisms for achieving reductions targets should be heard loud and clear in the quality assurance community.  These systems rely on market actors having trust in the emissions accounting so that they can feel confident that their contracts for emissions allowances are representative of real emissions.  Confidence comes from consistent greenhouse gas reporting criteria, independent verification of emissions assertions, and rigorous accreditation and monitoring of verification bodies.  Quality assurance professionals play a critical role.

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By: Mahr Federal

(Mahr Federal: Providence, Rhode Island) --­ Tapers play an important role in orthopaedic devices. Most hip and knee implants use tapers because they provide good alignment and can be "locked" into position. In manufacturing these devices, the control of taper and size determines how well an implant performs over its lifetime. Increasingly, air gauging has become the inspection tool of choice for controlling these critical parameters.

"Air gauging was the breakthrough gauging technology of the '40s and '50s" says George Schuetz, director of precision gauges for Mahr Federal. "Introduced decades before electronic gauging, it provided the first high performance 50 µin. or better gauging on the shop floor. Despite its age, air gauging today is actually growing in popularity, especially in high precision areas like orthopedic devices. It is fast, easy to use, provides high precision results even under the toughest shop conditions, and can last for years measuring literally millions of parts."

Arshad Hafeez’s picture

By: Arshad Hafeez

Whenever the economic climate freezes assets and sends investors scurrying for cover, businesses must find new ways to grow and stand out from the competition. Cost-cutting is the obvious, and usual, course of action. But in troubled times, isn’t it better to do something proactive and positive, rather than defensive and reactionary, to impress customers? What about benefits that organizations can offer above and beyond the obvious?

For the aerospace industry, quality has long been a key procurement consideration. For many manufacturing primes, the path to excellence increasingly runs through special processes such as heat-treating, coatings, and materials testing. That’s because original equipment manufacturers (OEM) can often trace the cause of a flawed component back to a special process in a supplier’s shop, and restricting that possibility helps with risk management.

Auditing special processes in aerospace

Twenty years ago, the major aerospace companies were auditing their own suppliers for technical proficiency in areas such as nondestructive testing, welding, and heat treating. This meant a significant workload for the primes, and auditors were often forced to become generalists to accommodate the workload.

Gretchen Hancock’s default image

By: Gretchen Hancock

These days blogs and newspapers seem to make a daily reference to climate change, resource scarcity and security, the environment and the economy. It's overwhelming … and with the legions of experts in each of these fields, hard to see where one organization, let alone an individual, can make a difference.

When I took on the role of driving GE's greenhouse gas reduction program, that's exactly how it felt: Where to start, and in this sea of experts, how to motivate our employees to get involved and make a sustainable impact?

The answer lay in GE's corporate culture. GE employees solve problems. We improve Lean processes and quantify defects from our Six Sigma heritage, and we're accustomed to teamwork and matrix organizations.

Stanley Cherkasky’s picture

By: Stanley Cherkasky

At the beginning of this year, the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) released revision C to AS9100, the quality management system (QMS) standard for the aviation, space, and defense industries. Unlike the recent release of ISO 9001:2008 (which was more of an amended version), AS9100:2009 will have considerably more modifications. Its benefits, however, are most definitely worth the endeavors of implementation. The new requirements are intended to make significant improvements in quality and cost reductions throughout the value stream.

The standard’s payload includes several new requirements and clauses that focus on planning, project management, and risk management. Its trajectory will also traverse on-time delivery performance, formal monitoring of customer satisfaction trends, and formal plans to ensure continual improvement—all are mission critical. IAQG’s mission is to dramatically raise the on-time, on-quality, delivery (OTOQD) performance across all three industry sectors.

Russ Russo’s picture

By: Russ Russo

The original title for this article was “How to Win the Baldrige.” But of course, no one can give you some secret on how to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award. Instead, this article sets a less daunting objective: to identify the practical steps in writing a Baldrige application. Your overarching goal for writing an application and participating in the awards process is to transform your organization into a high-performance organization. As a start on that journey, this article provides some guidelines for writing an application that appropriately reflects your achievements and makes your organization a contender for the award. 

A few caveats to begin: First, working with the Baldrige criteria and the awards process is a journey, not a single step. Although any organization may apply for the award and use the experience to improve their performance, even the very best organizations discover that it is rare to win on the first submittal. Actually, organizations may be better served by first applying to their state level award. Quality Digest has a list of most state quality awards that is updated frequently. Most states adopt the national criteria, and the experience of working with the state program is a solid foundation for applying for the national award. 

Chet Kagel’s picture

By: Chet Kagel

Command Medical Products of Ormond Beach, Florida, is a medical-device manufacturer that designs, manufactures, assembles, and packages disposable medical devices such as intravenous tubing, blood bags, IV bags, and catheters. Command Medical initiated its journey into lean manufacturing to improve manufacturing processes in order to maintain its competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Command Medical hired HPK Group to provide lean-manufacturing training workshops and to facilitate its first kaizen event, which involved the extrusion of medical tubing along with the assembly of a clamp to control flow and a spike for connection to other medical devices.

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By: Dan Seal

Many of us in the aerospace community have come to know the value of data in the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS), a reliable resource for aerospace supplier certification and registration data housed and maintained by SAE International. The OASIS database is available to everybody at You have to register to have access to it, but it is free. The OASIS database includes the accreditation bodies approved for the process, the certification bodies accredited for the scheme, all of the auditors approved for the aerospace scheme and, finally, the certified suppliers. The database contains information about the certified suppliers registered to the aerospace standards AS9100, AS9110, and AS9120.

There are some new changes being implemented in the OASIS database in 2009. Here are some of the key items noted from the OASIS web site:

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