Think of gaging software as
the Dewey Decimal System of measurement equipment. Every
caliper, micrometer, indicator, height gage and depth gage
in a manufacturer's library is essentially "checked
out" every time an operator uses it. This allows the
organization to track how well each piece of equipment performs,
schedule calibrations when they come due and trace accuracy
to standards like that of the National Institute of Standards
But this Dewey Decimal system doesn't come in the form
of a file cabinet and little index cards. On the contrary,
this system takes the form of intuitive, interactive and
highly precise software.
"There are a lot of aspects to a gage management
system," explains Robert Brown, program manager of
MeasurLink development at Mitutoyo America Corp. "There's
the repeatability of the gage, the reproducibility of the
gage, the reproducibility of an operator with the gage,
the linearity of the gage, the bias of the gage with the
operator and the stability of the gage over time."
All of these aspects must be taken into account when choosing
the right gaging software for your particular needs.
Gaging software packages come in two forms: dedicated
and integrated. A dedicated software suite typically contains
everything gage-related, which includes:
n A database of calibration
records and procedures
n An interactive calibration
n The capability to track
n The quick retrieval of
n Work order generation
n Report and gage label printing
n Production of calibration
n The calculation of the
uncertainty of gages
n Gage history reports
n Alerts when equipment becomes
due for calibration
n Security alerts/locks when
calibration is overdue
n Gage R&R studies with
a variety of chart formats
Companies that have a need for only one or two types of
these functions can purchase an integrated quality management
software suite, which usually includes gage management components.
"These are usually a component or module of a larger
quality management suite, equipment maintenance or enterprise
resource planning software system," notes Dave K. Banerjea,
president of CyberMetrics Corp. "Integrated packages
usually aren't as deep in features and functions as dedicated
packages, but they do offer the advantage of integration
with other company information systems."
For example, MeasurLink from Mitutoyo offers two gage-related
applications in its quality management suite of statistical
process control software--MeasurLink Gage R&R and MeasurLink
Gage Management. "Because we're actually a data acquisition
vendor, our system is designed so that the operator can
check out a gage, count the actual number of parts that
are measured with that gage and recall based upon actual
usage," notes Brown. "We're one of the few single
vendors that offer both a gage management and an SPC application."
Companies that outsource a good portion of their calibration
may only need a simple inventory and calibration scheduling
system. "Many of the integrated, or 'quality suite'
packages do this very well," notes Banerjea. "The
outside labs, of course, use dedicated gage calibration
management systems due to their very specialized information
needs." For customers that perform calibrations in-house
or have metrology labs, he suggests software that is comprehensive
There's good news if you need to integrate with other
company information systems: It's easier to do today than
it was in the past. "I was just talking with a colleague
of mine from another company, and we were both commenting
on how there's been little change with gaging software,"
recalls Mike McCalley, marketing services manager at ASI
DataMyte. "The trend now is the development of a suite
that can interface with multiple platforms."
Many of the dedicated packages can run on Microsoft SQL
Server, Oracle and other databases that the larger ERP systems
run on, notes Banerjea. "And middleware standards like
ODBC allow for linkages between a dedicated package and
larger business systems."
Other new developments include increased support for Internet
and wireless connectivity. Built-in report designers are
becoming increasingly popular, as more and more customers
want to customize their software. And, although mainly required
by FDA-regulated companies, there's an increasing demand
for better security records and compliance with electronic
signature requirements of 21 CFR Part 11.
Another important consideration before committing to any
type of software--especially one that's responsible for
tracking all of your gages--is cost. Depending on whether
you need an all-encompassing gaging solution or just one
or two gaging applications, the cost can range from a few
hundred dollars to several thousand per copy. A dedicated
package will obviously cost more because of its higher-level
support requirements. McCalley notes, however, that the
purchase of a gaging software suite doesn't end at installation.
Along with the purchase of gaging software comes free customer
support, maintenance agreements, tutorials, low-cost upgrades
when new versions become available and some sort of customer
So, what sets aside a good gaging software solution from
a bad one? Banerjea says a good solution will stay current
with industry standards such as ISO 9001:2000, QS-9000,
ISO 10012, ISO/IEC 17025 and others. "Good solutions
also take advantage of available technologies--such as the
Internet, PDAs and client/server architectures--that increase
productivity, reliability and flexibility. Good solutions
offer superior customer support."
McCalley says it depends on the customer's needs. "A
good solution is one that will meet all the customer's requirements,"
he explains. "A small company may have fewer gages,
so they don't necessarily need anything highly sophisticated."
On the other hand, larger companies like Boeing and DaimlerChrysler,
have tens of thousands of gages in dozens of locations.
These companies need a solution that can immediately mark
the status of all gages, regardless of their location, notes
Brown puts it simply, "A balance has to be struck
between ease-of-use and comprehensive functionality."
In other words, the system itself should be intuitive, and
it must support the many different aspects of gage management
The types of gaging solutions out there are as numerous
as the types of companies that require them. The individual
company is best suited to determine the best solution for
its gaging needs. Taking into account all the aspects of
dedicated and integrated solutions, and using the accompanying
directory as a starting point, you're well on your way to
finding the ideal gaging software for your company.
Although we have not evaluated, nor are we endorsing,
any gaging software products, we're committed to providing
you assistance in your quest for the right solution. To
that end, we've included on page 42 a directory (complete
with contact information) of companies that tell us they
provide gaging software. Only those companies that responded
to our requests for information are listed.
14960 Minnetonka Road
Minnetonka, MN 55345
Ph. 952-935-7704 Fax 952-935-0018
7500 E. Butherus Drive, Ste. 105
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Ph. 800-777-7020 Fax 480-922-7400
3387 Woodman Drive
Dayton, OH 45429
Ph. 937-299-5225 Fax 937-299-0698
N. 48 W. 14170 Hampton Ave.
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051
Ph. 262-781-6777 Fax 262-781-2822
250 Gibbs Road
Islandia, NY 11749
Ph. 800-879-7575 Fax 631-582-8487
125 Hartwell Ave.
Lexington, MA 02421
Ph. 781-862-9002 Fax 781-862-9003
11501 Lake Underhill Road
Orlando, FL 32825
Ph. 800-476-9000 Fax 407-382-6141
1200 Woodruff Road, Ste. H-11
Greenville, SC 29607
Ph. 864-627-8858 Fax 603-754-9531
Macomb, MI 48042
Ph. 888-525-7978 Fax 586-677-5700
447 Nilles Road
Fairfield, OH 45014
Ph. 800-758-2376 Fax 513-829-1105
415 S.B. Chavez Drive
Flint, MI 48503
Ph. 810-424-0060 Fax 810-424-0066
3081 Enterprise Drive
State College, PA 16801
Ph. 800-488-3555 Fax 814-238-1702
965 Corporate Blvd.
Aurora, IL 60504
Ph. 630-820-9666 Fax 630-820-7403
3025 Boardwalk, Ste. 120
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Ph. 734-761-4940 Fax 734-747-6368
1127 W. Melinda Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85027
Ph. 623-587-0335 Fax 623-582-1387
550 Eglinton Ave. W.
Toronto, ON M5N 3A8 Canada
Ph. 905-886-9470 Fax 905-764-6405
10468 Miamisburg-Springboro Road
Miamisburg, OH 45342
Ph. 800-777-3020 Fax 937-885-2252
975 E. Nerge Road, Ste. N140
Roselle, IL 60172
Ph. 888-317-4820 Fax 630-295-8454
1673 Star Batt Drive
Rochester Hills, MI 48309
Ph. 889-569-7094 Fax 248-299-0000
3310 Norfolk Drive
Cookeville, TN 38506
Ph. 931-537-6181 Fax 931-537-6813
78 Granby St.
Bloomfield, CT 06002
Ph. 800-364-9389 Fax 860-243-2540
Kennedy Smith is Quality Digest's assistant editor. Letters
to the editor regarding this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.