Reimann, Curt W. (1987, ASQC) National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, MD
Measurements in the U.S. economy now cost more than $200B annually. The principal uses of measurements are as appraisal tools in quality assurance applications affecting products, processes, environmental quality, and health care. High technology aras such as advanced materials, aerospace and defense systems, opto-electronics, and biotechnology incur measurement costs three to five times higher than such costs in traditional technologies. In addition, high technology areas demand greater accuracy, in many cases challenging state-of-the-art capabilities. Related to the growing importance of high technology are two trends of significance to the U.S. quality scene: (1) quality-related decisions are based increasingly on the results of physical and chemical tests. Such tests -- destructive and nondestructive -- are replacing more subjective methods of inspection and are better suited to process control; and (2) a precision (consistency) basis for quality decisions is giving way to an accuracy (consistency plus compatibility) basis. Both trends place increasing demands on the quality of measurements, and militate for establishment of measurement quality assurance (MQA) systems.MQA systems need to address several key factors associated with measurement reliability, incuding quality assessment, standards and calibrations, methods, and training. Some corporations have set up standars or metrology laboratories to serve as the foundation for measurement quality. To date, most such laboratories have bene limited primarily to applications related to government regulations or military specifications, usually involving audits conducted by Federal agencies. Responsibilities of standards laboratories differ widely, as do their organizational placements and relationships to corporate quality assurance departments. Some laboratories, given broader mandates, support efforts to optimize processes and to reduce overall measurement costs.Organizations such as ASQC (ASQC) can play a major role in advancing MQA, working with other organizations to develop methods and standards, and in addressing complex management issues such as how best to integrate MQA into overall quality assurance.This paper summarizes the rationale for MQA, key elements contained in such a system, linkages between standards laboratories and plant operations, and the role of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). The paper will include an update of services available from NBS to support corporate quality assurance.