Content By Quality Digest

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By: Jim Mroz

What roles do quality and quality management systems play in a business sector facing revolution? The term isn’t too strong for what’s currently underway in the telecommunications industry. Competitive pressures and customer demands are driving the sector to introduce next-generation network technologies to lower operating costs and support new services. These are designed and sped to market as quickly as possible to offset revenues lost from traditional voice traffic. In addition, fixed, mobile and data services as well as customer demands for new and better products have transformed the telecommunications landscape. More than at any other time in the industry’s innovative history, quality and quality management are critical to its survival.

At the Quality Excellence for Suppliers of Telecommunications Forum’s 2003 Best Practices Conference, Richard Woodruff of Belgacom CAO, 2003 QuEST Forum chair, captured the state of the industry and the forum’s future role in the following comments to attendees:

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By: Howard Cooper

To succeed in our increasingly competitive global economy, many companies have implemented lean manufacturing, a step beyond just-in-time production systems. Other companies claim they’re "lean" but hedge on the concept. They maintain work-in-progress inventories because they fear the consequences when critical-path machines go down for maintenance breaks—a familiar and time-consuming nightmare.

Some managers simply bolster their maintenance department with people, training, equipment and spare parts so they can quickly address problems when downtime occurs. Or they’ll increase their expenses in order to hand maintenance responsibilities to outside subcontractors. Regardless of whether these vendors service you better than you could, it’s comforting to be able to blame someone outside the company when downtime cripples production.

Still, it’s your downtime.

Inevitably during your progress toward lean manufacturing, you’ll be faced with the necessity of combining new machinery with decades-old equipment. Do you know how to get the near 100 percent uptime that lean manufacturing requires for both? Or will maintenance become the tail that wags your dog? This article describes how lean maintenance can help prevent equipment downtime and all its accompanying costly frustrations.

Overcoming entropy

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By: Robert H. King Jr.

Contrary to what alarmists with an interest in fueling controversy might say, ISO 9001 is still on the rise-and with good reason. The standard is capable of producing the desired results (i.e., consistent quality in goods and services globally), and its full potential is yet to be realized.

Organizations registered to ISO 9001 are widespread, and their numbers continue to grow. These companies implement the standard for a variety of reasons, and some are arguably better than others at anticipating the ultimate benefits. An organization seeking the greatest value from registration needs its top executives to support the effort. They must think of quality as a strategic issue and understand the role quality management systems play in organizational survival and growth.

Regrettably, many organizations probably don’t realize ISO 9001’s potential. It’s no wonder, then, that some of them have decided not to upgrade to the newly revised standard. Still, the most common reasons for not upgrading have little to do with lack of value. Rather, they include the need to conserve resources during an economic downturn, no customer requirement to maintain registration, and no plans to transition to sector standards or consolidate multiple registrations. Nonetheless, predictions of negative growth in ISO 9001 registrations seem misplaced.

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By: Quality Digest

Brown and Sharpe USA, a member of Hexagon Metrology Group, has chosen Metris as its strategic partner for noncontact scanning solutions.

As a result of the newly forged alliance, Brown and Sharpe will promote Metris’ range of laser scanners and inspection and reverse engineering software in the United States. The companies have already completed the integration of Metris laser scanners in Brown and Sharpe’s inspection solutions.

"At Brown and Sharpe, we strongly believe that in the near future, laser scanning will play a critical role in everyone’s inspection process," says Bill Gruber, CEO of Brown and Sharpe USA. "With this strategic alliance, we’re in a perfect position to offer our customers fully integrated, CMM-based noncontact laser scanning solutions."

The alliance completes the existing partnership between Metris and Europe-based DEA, another member of the Hexagon Metrology Group.

For more information about Brown and Sharpe, click here. To learn more about Metris, click here.

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By: Gary Card

How many dimensional data points are enough to accurately describe a part feature? The key to answering this question is understanding the stability of the manufacturing process. In general, components should be measured only as often as required to ensure the stability of manufacturing processes. This requires identifying and monitoring part features that are critical to the part’s end-use function and developing a strategy to control the dimensions of those features.

The choice of manufacturing technique is the key factor in choosing a process control method. If, for example, the manufacturing process reliably produces a critical bore with good form, its size or position may vary. In this case, control of the size and position will be important but not necessarily roundness or cylindricity control. By contrast, if the machining process produces features with significant form variation (i.e., the variability of the form is a significant proportion of the form tolerance), then understanding where and how the form errors occur becomes important.

Some features may need to mate with other parts for the end-use product to work correctly. In many cases, the form or profile of these features is critical to the functional fit; consequently, the processes used to make these features must be precisely controlled.

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By: Quality Digest

Brown and Sharpe has reached an agreement with the state of Rhode Island to relocate its operations to the Quonset Davisville Port and Commerce Park, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Under the agreement, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. will build a new facility at Quonset using moral obligation bonds, leasing the facility to the company for a 10-year period for the cost of the debt service. The 100,000-square-foot facility will be designed to allow for expansion and will be located on a 14-acre parcel in the Keifer Park section of Quonset. Brown and Sharpe hopes to occupy the new facility by July 2005.

For more information about Brown and Sharpe, click here.

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By: Quality Digest

MTS Systems Corp. has released its CAE Calibrator for NASTRAN, a software application that enables NASTRAN users to leverage test and external data to compare, correlate, calibrate and automatically update computer-aided engineering models for structural dynamics.

The offering was unveiled at this year’s North American Noise and Vibration User Group Meeting in Detroit and the MSC.Software Virtual Product Development Conference in Japan. The software ensures that CAE models’ performance accurately matches test data, other CAE models and user-entered design targets.

"CAE Calibrator for NASTRAN builds on a series of recent product introductions from MTS focused on increasing the pace of test, making test data ubiquitous and better correlating CAE and test," says Doug Marinaro, vice president of software and consulting for MTS. "This new product enables seamless model correlation, extending MTS’ growing offering of solutions that make calibrating CAE models and physical tests a science instead of an art."

For more information, click here.

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By: Quality Digest

AccuMetria has become a SolidWorks Solution Partner with the introduction of its new product, CMMWorks.

CMMWorks is an off-line programming tool used to create and optimize inspection programs for coordinate measuring machines. "We’re excited to have AccuMetria join the Solution Partner program," says Brain Houle, Partner Program manager for Solidworks Corp. "CMMWorks fits nicely into our CAM manufacturing offerings and enables our customers to leverage their SolidWorks models to efficiently program inspection machines."

CMMWorks is fully integrated with SolidWorks 2003 and 2004 and is available through AccuMetria or local SolidWorks resellers.

For additional information, or to sign up for a 30-day free demonstration copy, click here.

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By: Quality Digest

DVT Corp., an integrated machine vision provider, and Phoenix Contact Inc., a provider of industrial connection, packaging and communications technologies, have formed a strategic partnership.

Under the terms of the alliance, Phoenix will brand label a power supply and Ethernet I/O assembly to be used with DVT’s Legend SmartImage vision systems. "This is another important step in providing our customers with a complete machine vision solution," says Jim Jordan, DVT’s director of operations. "This partnership is a natural fit--not only for our two companies but for the market as well," adds Dave Skelton, director of automation at Phoenix Contact.

Phoenix Contact will provide an industrial-strength DIN rail-mountable power supply that features an easy-to-assemble connection method to enable quick device connection. The preassembled I/O rail assembly has Ethernet Modbus/TCP protocol with eight built-in digital inputs and eight digital outputs.

For more information, click here.

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By: Quality Digest

Cognex Corp. has launched the Cognex Certified Vision Integrator program in North America.

The program provides training, sales and marketing materials, software updates and special pricing for CVIs. "Cognex CVIs are among the most highly skilled vision experts in the world," says Kris Nelson, Cognex’s senior vice president of North American sales. "Our regional CVI training classes and online courses equip CVIs with the knowledge they need to solve problems quickly, deploy systems faster and serve their customers better."

In addition, CVI program participants have access to the private Cognex CVI Web site, which provides technical reference materials, product information, presentations, online support and education and CVI program updates.

For more information about the program, click here.