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Prof. Sleuth's bag of tricks--5 Enterprise Metrology steps.

"This is where the rubber hits the road," said Professor Sleuth addressing his first class of budding enterprise metrologists in the conference room overlooking the Parts 'R Us large component's machining area.

"As a culminating experience to this educational adventure, I am assigning the class a little project. We will use everything we have learned thus far to perform an Enterprise Metrology Audit here at Parts 'R Us. We will investigate every possible way we can eliminate measurement and manufacturing process bottlenecks, then compile our findings into a single, comprehensive report."

The Sleuth pressed on, ignoring major eye rolls from all present. "When we are done compiling our report, we'll present it to management."

Everyone groans!!!

"So Eddie," says the Sleuth to a seemingly disinterested young man leaning his chair against the back wall, "to make sure we all understand what to look for, why don't you summarize the 5 Enterprise Metrology Steps."

"No problem," said Eddie, leaning forward to toss a wad of chewing gum into the nearby trash basket. "First, you minimize soft ware. Having too many types of measurement software to learn is a strain on the brain and not very efficient either. So where possible, we try to use common software for different kinds of measuring equipment."

Sleuth could see that Eddie was having a hard time staying focused because some sort commotion out in the shop was visible through the conference room's Plexiglas window. A forklift operator was trying to remove an oversized housing for a prestigious military contract from a large vertical machining center--but pallets of large work pieces were preventing her from getting a straight shot at it.

"Then two," Eddie continued, "we expand our programming options, because one-trick-pony measurement programming is a real downer."

Sleuth shot Eddie with a mean look. "What I mean," said Eddie, "is that it is better and faster to have different types of programming to match the job--like teach and learn, or doing it off-line, or on a CAD, or even having inspection plans attached to the CAD model so the software can write most of its own program." The Sleuth does his own eye roll.

Now the class was losing its focus because there was obviously some argument going on over at the machining center.

"Three, keep your data in one place and analyze it with common algorithms--that's just a fancy word that mean's analysis equations," said Eddie self-assuredly.

At this point, Jack Jones the shift supervisor crashes out of the class.

"Four," said Eddie, "get some graphical reporting tools to produce actionable information--which means actually showing people what they can do to make process improvements instead of hitting them with a gawdawful pile of numbers."

At this point, no one was listening to Eddie, because the entire class, including Sleuth, was standing at the window looking at Jack giving the forklift lady an arms flailing, beet red faced, eye-popping piece of his mind.

"And five," Eddie stammered, "use Ethernet, sneaker net, or even the internet to get the information quickly to people who can really use it." Nobody really heard any of this.

Soon Jack returned and everyone sat robotically until Sleuth broke the silence: "What was that about Jack?"

"In-process check. The contract requires that we do an in-process check of that big rocket engine housing half way through our machining process. So they are taking it over to the humongous, ultra-precision CMM on the other side of the plant," said Jack.

"What I just learned is that they won't let us set up another job while we wait to get that part back. They don't want us changing any of the machine conditions. It could take a day or more to get the housing back. Meanwhile we have lots of work in the queue for that million-dollar machine. But I guess it has to sit there and bleed money.

"But that's not your problem," said Jack. "What did I miss, Sleuth?"

"These guys are going to compile a report by the end of the month detailing all the places where we can save time and money with enterprise metrology. Then you will be a hero and present it to management."

"No way!" Jack retorted. "Not to those bean counters. Don't get me wrong, I think it's good to do the study of our processes and fill up our bag with enterprise metrology tricks. But I'm not pulling any of those tricks out of the bag until management has developed a proper sense of urgency."

"Well," said Sleuth, "are they going to have a sense of urgency over that big machine tool gathering dust?"

"You bet."

"Then why don't you propose Trick 2: Using Common Metrology Software? With some CMM-like software that housing can be measured in-process with the CNC machine's probe."

"Never happen. We don't tie up expensive CNCs to measure parts."

"Oh, I see," said the Sleuth, "then you'd rather have it stand idle while the part is being hauled all over the plant to get measured."

"Good point. Do you think we could measure a close tolerance rocket housing with that machining center," asked Jack.

"No doubt," said Sleuth. "That's a very accurate CNC machine, certainly accurate enough for in-process checking. If you do that, then the parts won't have to leave the machine until they're done. Then, you'll use the CMM to do a final inspection on each of them, but you'll eliminate all of this unnecessary chaos and wasted effort of toting them from place to place midstream.

"That could be your first Enterprise Metrology Solution. I can help you work out the details tonight. You can present it to the boss in the morning. Class dismissed," concluded the Sleuth with the look of a vulture about to pounce on a juicy piece of meat.

The Enterprise Metrology Sleuth, investigating computer-integrated solutions for lean manufacturing, is sponsored by:

EM Sleuth is sponsored by Wilcox Associates Inc, (, part of the Hexagon Metrology Group and makers of PC-DMIS measurement software. Contributors to this article include: Steve Logee, director of business development, Wilcox Associates, slogee@wilcoxassoc. com; Rob Fabiano, Sleuth illustrator, and Joel Cassola, writer,
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Title Annotation:QM Enterprise Metrology Sleuth
Publication:Tooling & Production
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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