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Welcome to Quality Digest’s 2009 3-D Measurement Equipment and Software Buyers Guide.

This directory includes the contact information. for 91 companies that offer 3-D measurement and analysis products. Further information, including detailed descriptions of these companies’ products and services, is available online at www.qualitydigest.com/content/buyers-guides.

Only those companies that responded to our requests for updated information have been included in this buyers guide. We don’t intend this directory as an endorsement of any organization; it’s merely a starting point in your data-gathering process. We encourage you to contact these companies directly for further information.

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By Ron Williams

Outside of their jobs, employees make important decisions every day. They vote on community issues. They help teach their children new skills. They purchase homes and cars and life insurance. But on the job, how many people are allowed to make important decisions about their work? How many people have input into how they do their own jobs, lead a team, find out what their customers need or make decisions about what will work better for their customers?

What are self-directed work teams?

Minnesota-based 3M is among an increasing number of companies that involve employees in the daily management of their business through work teams. These teams are empowered to take corrective actions to resolve day-to-day problems. They also have direct access to information that allows them to plan, control and improve their operations. In short, employees that comprise work teams manage themselves.

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Welcome to Quality Digest’s 2008 Calibration Software and Services Directory

On the following pages you’ll find nearly 200 companies that can help you properly calibrate your measurement equipment. Included in each listing is the company name, address, telephone and fax numbers, web address, and a key showing whether the company in question provides calibration software (SW), services (SVC), or both. Further information, including detailed descriptions of these companies’ products and/or services, can be found online at www.qualitydigest.com/content/buyers-guides.

Quality Digest hasn’t evaluated, nor do we endorse, any of the following calibration software and/or service providers. This directory is intended to be used as a guide; please contact the companies themselves for further information.

Good luck in your search for the right calibration software and/or services provider.

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By R. Stephen Flynn

What Is Multisensor Metrology?

Multisensor metrology is dimensional measurement on a measuring machine that utilizes two or more different sensor technologies to acquire data points from features and surfaces of a part to perform more measurements than would be possible on a machine using a single sensor. Most multisensor machines are motorized and use software that repeats predetermined measurement sequences without the need for user interaction.

Most articles about measuring devices, instruments, or systems describe what they do and how they work. The manufacturers of these systems want readers to know about the innovation and technology that went into them. However, the missing part of such articles is how to use the measuring system to get the information that the user needs to make decisions. This article looks at multisensor metrology from a user’s perspective.

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Incredible as it seems, Six Sigma is now more than 20 years old and still going strong. The methodology saves companies huge sums of money by redefining processes and reducing defects. Long a staple of quality improvement at manufacturing plants, Six Sigma is now penetrating into sectors such as health care, government agencies, service organizations, and many more. Increasingly, lean precepts such as eliminating waste and more efficiently organizing workspaces have become integrated with Six Sigma project. The result, lean Six Sigma, has become prevalent across industry.

This section contains the Six Sigma Services and Software buyers guide. This directory can help you implement, maintain, and improve your organization’s Six Sigma efforts. Embracing the Six Sigma path often leads to stunning improvement in a very short period of time—the companies found in the following pages can help you get there. Those with the acronym “SVC” following their listing offer Six Sigma services; those with a “SW” offer Six Sigma software. Many, you’ll note, offer both.

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By Hans Ericsson

We’re all aware of the importance of safety testing for medical products, both for implantable devices and external devices used to monitor or sustain us when we’re in the hospital. In the past, emphasis has been on the hardware-safety aspects of external medical equipment. Are they foolproof? Are there built-in safety mechanisms that prevent the device from causing harm through electrical shock or other forms of electrical or electronic malfunction?

Until a few years ago, little thought was given to the software that is an increasingly crucial part of these devices. Over time, however, the software that controls many electronic diagnostic and life-critical electronic equipment has grown in importance, to the point where a software failure could be just as catastrophic, and life threatening, as a hardware failure. A software crash on your laptop simply means a reboot. A software crash on a piece of equipment helping to keep a patient alive is another problem altogether.

Fortunately, the issue has not gone unnoticed. In 2006, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published IEC 62304--“Medical device software--Software life-cycle processes.”

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By William Dorner

Professional statisticians typically have powerful software at their disposal to perform advanced analyses and create slick graphs. But many professionals in the quality field don't enjoy that luxury. Faced with a limited budget, they must be resourceful with the software they already have. Besides, not everyone needs the capability to perform nonlinear regression with custom loss functions for maximum likelihood! Fortunately, many occasional data analysts already own a versatile software capable of providing most basic quality analyses -- Microsoft Excel.

Skeptical? I don't blame you. The following examples show how to apply Excel for the graphical analysis of quality data. The examples range from somewhat obvious to downright clever. As it turns out, Excel's capabilities are limited only by your creativity.

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By William Dorner

Click here to download the Excel worksheet used in this article.

Many people use Microsoft Excel on a daily basis. Yet few people realize the extent of Excel's analytical capabilities. Fewer still put these capabilities to work for process improvement, product improvement and profit.Most Excel users are aware of the common formulas and charts. But with some creativity, users can produce tools like control charts, Pareto charts and box-and-whisker plots (see "Using Excel for Data Analysis," Quality Digest, October 1997). And with a little guidance, users can employ more advanced statistical methods with Excel. This article presents a how-to approach for one such advanced technique-Weibull analysis.

You haven't turned the page yet? Those of you who remain probably fall under one of two categories: those familiar with reliability data analysis, and Excel enthusiasts who are curious to learn one more way to exploit this versatile software. I predict readers in both groups will be glad they stuck around.

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Welcome to Quality Digest’s 2008 State Quality Awards directory. On the following pages you’ll find a state-by-state summary of available awards, contact information and award summaries, including who may apply and deadline dates. We’ve done our best to include only the information that we’ve personally confirmed, but we nevertheless recommend that you contact award administrators directly to verify important dates, requirements and other critical data.

We wish you the best of luck on your journey to quality award recognition.

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By George Pesansky

The challenge to increase productivity with fewer resources has lead to dozens of methodologies and toolkits to help organizations meet their objectives and become more profitable and effective.

One principle consistent with all those methodologies, and that makes enormous practical sense, is to leverage what you already know. This means harnessing the single greatest resource in any organization--the knowledge of its own people.