Enos, Lesley (1990, ASQC) Alpha Industries, Inc., Woburn, MA
The major goal in the work of quality improvement professionals is to reduce variation and produce consistency in products and services. Understanding the causes and taking steps to reduce variation is the foundation to improving customer satisfaction. First attempts to understand product variation genera6lly begin with control charts and/or Pareto analysis of existing data. However, one key element is commonly overlooked - the measurement system. The assumption that the measurement system is "in control" can be misleading and dangerous.
Typically, when a measurement system is analyzed for capability, a quick study is performed neatly combining product, process and operator components. Ideally, to determine the accuracy of the measurement system, an industry standard is purchased and compared to the measurement system. After the gauge study is performed, the data is entered into a computer program and the resulting measurement variation is displayed. This method looks appealing since it can be quick and easy while combining many components at one time. However, erroneous results are common, blaming measurement variation for what is actual product variation.
At Alpha Industries, as in many semiconductor facilities, microscopic tolerances in the angstroms is common. Measurement capability plays a major role when working in such tight tolerances. The goal of the measurement system contributing no more than 10% of the total variation can be virtually impossible with small tolerances. There are times where state-of-the-art measurement equipment used to measure tight tolerances is extremely expensive or not yet invented. And to complicate matters, industry standards to determine measurement accuracy and precision also have not been invented. A measurement system guide has been developed at Alpha Industries which addresses these problems and is used towards reducing measurement variation.
This paper will discuss an existing measurement capability system which determines the cause of variation and answers the following questions with examples of actual measurement studies: