SIMNet Launched to Harmonize Measurement

The United States and 11 other nations met in late 1998 in an Internet and cyberspace collaboration to advance and harmonize measurement capabilities in the Americas.

The meeting included officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Organization of American States, and participating nations.

Configured by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), SIMNet is an Internet-enabled, interactive system intended to support real-time comparisons of measurements performed at laboratories throughout the Americas.

"In global commerce, millions of measurements are performed daily," said NIST Director Raymond Kammer. "Businesses and consumers need measurements they can trust. That is what SIM, an acronym for the Spanish translation of Inter-American System of Metrology, and SIMNet are all about: enabling reliable, high-quality measurement capabilities for the entire Western Hemisphere."

The system is scheduled for two years of pilot testing and will first be used to realize consistent electrical measurements needed for many products and processes. By means of PCs, videoconferencing technology, and software for data sharing and remote control of equipment, SIMNet enables remote collaboration. Scientists in participating countries will be able to observe staff in another nation as it performs a measurement comparison, share customized measurement software, review data as they are collected, ask questions, serve as consultants, and even operate distant equipment.

Countries besides the United States participating in the pilot tests are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

International Research Conference Slated for June in Finland

The 8th International Conference on Productivity Quality Research will be held June 14-16 in Vaasa, Finland. The conference is sponsored by the International Society for Productivity and Quality Research and the University of Vaasa.

Conference topics will include product development processes, total quality management, and environmental competitiveness. Chairs of the event are Josu A. Takala of the University of Vaasa and David J. Sumanth of the University of Miami in Florida.

Further information can be obtained by visiting http://www.uwasa.fi/icpqr99/, by e-mail at icpqr99@uwasa.fi, or by fax at 358-6-324-8488.

NIST Offers Paper on NDE Standards

A new paper detailing standards activities and organizations, both domestic and international, that influence welding and the general field of nondestructive evaluation (NDE) is available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The paper discusses the International Organization for Standardization, which lists 64 standards that apply directly to the inspection of welds in structure. The focus is on ISO Technical Committee 135, which covers nondestructive testing.

Call (303) 497-3237 or e-mail sarabeth.harris@nist.gov and ask for No. 48-98.

Engineering Wonders Exhibit Starts National Tour in Detroit

Breaking Through: The Creative Engineer, an exhibition that opened at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, last year, is slated for a national tour of nine cities over the next three years.

The tour began in Detroit, MI, in February and continues there until April 30. Following Detroit, the show travels for three months each to Zion, IL; Miami, FL; Oklahoma City, OK; Kissimmee, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Rochester, NY; Alamagordo, NM; and Lubbock, TX.

The exhibit reflects the panorama of modern engineering, from designing roller coasters to the construction of Colorado's Hanging Lake Viaduct to Voyager 2's maneuvers as it travels to distant planets. A series of eight engineering case studies is examined along with the role and process of creativity in the field of engineering.

The exhibit blends engineering wonders and how they are made with traditional examples of creativity, such as visual art, music, architecture, and literature. Interac-tive exhibits allow visitors to exercise their own creativity through displays, games, and puzzles.

Breaking Through is supported by National Engineers Week, a coalition of engineering societies and U.S. corporations. More information can be obtained from the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Exhibi-tion Services, at (202) 783-7200 or by e-mail at exhibits@astc.org.

China to Increase Exposure of Shoddy Goods

China intends to use the media to expose more cases involving shoddy goods, particularly those that affect people's lives and the national economy, according to an official with the State Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision.

Pan Yue, deputy director of the bureau, said that along with punishing those who make and sell poor-quality goods, his bureau will also cooperate with the media to expose other major cases, which are becoming a public nuisance in China.

Pan stressed that media supervision is of great importance for cracking down on fake goods, and his bureau will establish a quality system to warn people against certain brands of shoddy goods.

China began regularly issuing results of product-quality surveys in Beijing newspapers in April 1997, and from these reports people have been kept informed about poor-quality goods.

Editor's note: See "State Supervision and Inspection of Product Quality in China" by Zhihai Zhang (December 1998, p. 53).

Supply-Chain Council Sanctioned by ANSI

The Supply-Chain Council (SCC) has been sanctioned as a standards-developing organization by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in anticipation of seeking ANSI approval of SCC's Supply-Chain Operations Reference Model (SCOR).

SCOR is a supply-chain diagnostic tool that enables users to address, improve, and communicate supply-chain management practices.

The first step in developing the model requires SCC to identify all organizations that may be affected by SCOR and then offer them a review copy of the model. Each organization is then asked to vote approval or suggest revisions.

The results are then submitted to ANSI, which ensures that the review process is conducted according to its procedures. If so, ANSI recognizes the document as an ANSI standard.

Call (412) 781-4101, or visit http://www.supply-chain.org.

Dunbeck of RAB Elected to IAF Board

Joseph R. Dunbeck, CEO of the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB), has been elected to the board of
directors of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), a membership group of accreditation bodies and allied organizations from throughout the world.

Dunbeck is the U.S. lead delegate, representing the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-RAB National Accreditation Program.

RAB has elected three new members to its board of directors. They are Stephen A. Green, Westinghouse Government & Environmental Services Co. (GESCO); John R. Hayworth, Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), Inc; and Jack E. West, an independent consultant who spent nearly 30 years with Tenneco, Inc. and is the lead U.S. delegate to the International Organization for Standardization committee responsible for the ISO 9000 series of standards.

Asian Group to Continue Cooperation With EU

The member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union (EU) on standards, quality, and conformity assessment.

The agreement continues cooperation that was initiated almost a decade ago and provides for an EU contribution of $6.12 million to co-finance the program for five years.

According to Rodolfo C. Severino, ASEAN secretary general, the agreement will help to develop a pool of ASEAN specialists on standards and conformity assessment and promote a quality culture in the region.

NFS Offers Program on Electrical Certification

NFS, a nonprofit certifier of products and equipment affecting public health and safety, has been accredited as a nationally recognized testing laboratory for electrical certification by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The new certification program is available to equipment manufacturers. Accreditation to the program means the products comply with the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.

Knowledge Management Symposium Proceedings Offered by APQC

Detailed proceedings are now available from the American Productivity
& Quality Center's (APQC) Third Knowledge Symposium.

The 139-page publication, Knowledge Management: Lessons From the Leading Edge, contains 26 in-depth presentation summaries from organizations such as Andersen Consulting, British Petroleum, Buck-man Laboratories, Chevron Corp., Lucent Technologies, The Pillsbury Co., National Security Agency, and Xerox Corp.

Call 800-776-9676 or (713) 681-4020.

PBS Business Channel Expands Distance Learning

TV for Keeping current AprilPBS The Business Channel, a provider of business training programs via satellite and the Web, has added new programs related to quality and performance improvement to its 1999 distance-learning lineup. In addition, more than 1,000 hours of The Business Channel's management development and performance improvement training is being added to the Internet in cooperation with Broadcast.com.

New programs include an annual briefing for administrative professionals to air April 21, Professional Secretaries Day; a modern manufacturing series on April 13, 20, and 27; five new executive education courses from Massachusetts Institute of Technology live throughout the year; Leadership Skills Development on April 7; Use of Information Technology in Project Management on Tuesdays, May 25 to June 29; and Advanced Internet Commerce on Tuesdays, Sept. 7 to Oct. 12.

The Internet courses will be available on demand and include Internet Commerce, Use of Information Technology in Project Management, Optimizing the Supply Chain, Maximizing the Bottom Line, and Advanced Internet Commerce.

Just-in-time management consultant information is available 24 hours a day on the channel's Web site at http://www.pbstbc.com.

A small-business modern manufacturing series on April 13, 20, and 27 will cover computer issues, workplace development, and team evolution.

Call 888-822-8229, or fax (703) 739-8606.

Postal Service Gets Good Marks for Customer Service

Most Americans say they are satisfied with the U.S. Postal Service, according to a recent Associated Press poll conducted by ICR of Media, PA.

Almost three-fourths of Americans believe the post office is doing an excellent or good job. While a third of those questioned said stamps cost too much, the remainder said prices were about right or a bargain.

Attitudes about the post office have improved over the last five years. In 1994, just over 60% said they viewed the postal service as excellent or good. Almost a third of those polled in 1999 said they think service is better now than five years ago. Sixty percent think it's about the same.

When asked about their biggest concerns, the leading issue was the speed of mail delivery, mentioned by just over a third. The cost of stamps was mentioned by about one in 10, as was counter service. Forty percent said they had no concerns.

Quality Web Watch

webwatch artLooking for a quality Web site? Here are quality-related sites the Quality Progress staff has found:

Quality Today at http://www.qualitytoday.com

This site is designed to be the quality industry's single source for information, such as news, events, reference materials, job prospects, product information, and more.

Included at the site are an on-line reporting system that enables users to review real-time market demographics and set up hyperlinks from product titles in the database to the user's own Web site.

The ISO 9000 Support Group at http://www.isogroup.simplenet.com

This site offers an alternative to consultants and software for attaining ISO 9000, QS-9000, or ISO 14000 compliance.

It provides a network of companies that are already registered or are in the process of becoming registered and are willing to share their experiences and offer suggestions. A membership fee is required.

More Web sites. Links to and descriptions of these sites and past Quality Web Watch sites can be found on Quality Progress' home page at http://qualityprogress.asq.org.

Found an interesting qual  ity site? If you come across a site that could be useful to other quality professionals, contact Susan E. Daniels at sdaniels@asq.org.

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