90% of Digital Product Data Tested Fails Quality Standards

ASQ HAND final copy tiffPrescient Technologies, Inc., which provides manufacturers with software for improving engineering data quality, says the initial results from a set of engineering quality audits show that manufacturing companies around the world have a pervasive problem with data quality in the process of engineering design.

Prescient's quality audit program showed a consistent level of error in engineering data tested across 20 companies in the aerospace, automotive, consumer products and electronics industries. Quality audits were performed in companies with as few as 100 employees and as many as 160,000 employees. Each audit took approximately two weeks to complete and included a review of multiple sets of engineering data from each organization.

More than 3,000 separate product models were analyzed during the study time frame. Of these, only 225 passed the appropriate set of company defined standards. Seventy percent of the models failed to meet standards that companies categorized as critical.

Prescient says the quality audit process was customized to look at the engineering data standards of most concern to each specific company. These could be common industry design standards and best practices or a set of quality issues unique to the organization. The standards could be as straightforward as naming conventions or as complex as manufacturing requirements and guidelines for electronically building the geometry of a part.

"Data quality has been one of the most significant issues in the product development process for a long time," notes John MacKrell, an industry analyst with CIMdata, Inc. "To achieve the full benefits of advanced engineering and data management solutions, companies must have information of the highest possible quality."

Gavin Finn, president and CEO of Prescient, says "Although there are more analyses to do, the overwhelming rate at which data failed defined standards was consistent across all the audits. The high percentage of errors is even more noticeable because the results are not limited by company size or market. This problem spans the entire manufacturing industry. Prescient believes the problem is a consequence of the increased pressure to use digital data throughout the automated product development process."

Prescient says the results of these quality audits are consistent with research conducted by industry organizations and the federal government. It cites a March 1999 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology showing that interoperability problems due to data quality errors within the automotive supply chain alone could cost as much as $1 billion a year. For the complete report, go to www.nist.gov/director/prog-ofc/report99-1.pdf

In a 1998 report entitled "Best Practices in Supply Chain Product Development," the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) revealed that the "highest priority issue [affecting the effectiveness of best practices in the automotive supply chain] was concern about the quality of product data, or rather, the lack thereof, which is directly related to the usefulness of that data for purposes beyond basic product representations." For more information, call AIAG at 248-358-3003.

For additional information about Prescient Technologies, Inc., visit www.prescienttech.com

Eleven International Groups Start Standards Forum

Eleven international organizations with a stake in standardization have launched a new forum called Standards Actions in the Global Market (SGM). The organizations represent both private and governmental sectors, either as developers, users or interested stakeholders.

The SGM Forum will function as a roundtable for discussions of programs, projects and studies that are completed, underway or planned within the participating organizations. Exchanges of focused information between the participants are expected to bring useful insights and help avoid political pitfalls and duplication of effort and resource allocation, according to the International Standards Organization (ISO).

The forum member organizations are the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Federation of Standards Users, the Industry Cooperation on Standards and Conformity Assessment, ISO, the International Electrotechnical Commission, the Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the International Telecommunication Union and the following UN organizations: the International Trade Center, the Conference on Trade and Development, the Economic Commission for Europe, the Industrial Development Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Greater Diversity in Engineering Sought by Organizations

Faced with a coming shortage of American engineers of all ethnic backgrounds and chronically small percentages of minorities and women in every segment of engineering, a Business of Diversity Summit under the auspices of National Engineers Week 2000 met last fall to discuss strategies for addressing this growing problem.

The summit was co-chaired by the American Consulting Engineers Council and CH2M Hill. Participants represented a wide range of sectors and included the U.S. Navy, Federal Highway Administration, public education, 18 engineering societies, and businesses such as IBM, Earth Tech and Hughes Network Systems.

As pointed out by Jack Shaw, chairman and CEO of Hughes Network Systems, Japan has less than half the population of the United States but is graduating 10,000 more engineers annually.

The ideas discussed at the summit will feed into a nationally coordinated strategy that actively involves industry, government, education, professional societies and individual engineers in aggressively recruiting minorities and women. The strategy is scheduled to be adopted by the Engineers Week coalition of some 70 societies and 60 corporations during National Engineers Week this Feb. 20-26.

For more information on the Business of Diversity Summit, visit www.eweek.org

NIST Announces Long-Distance Weld Monitoring, High-Power RF Measurement

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced two developments of interest to the quality profession.

* A new system for measuring up to 1 kilowatt of radiofrequency power in the range of 2 to 1,000 megahertz makes use of calibrated low-power sensors, called bolometers, and a calibrated chain of up to five 10-decibel couplers. The couplers reduce the high-power level to be measured down to the 1 to 10 milliwatt level of the sensors.

* Long-distance weld monitoring is now feasible, according to a paper by Timothy P. Quinn, a researcher at NIST's Materials Reliability Division in Boulder, CO. Quinn reports he monitored the quality of welds made in Gaithersburg, MD, via the Internet using the arc sensing monitor, a through-the-arc sensing system.

Information on the radiofrequency measurement system can be obtained in Technical Note 1510, "Switched-Coupler Measurement for High-Power RF Calibrations," by contacting Sarabeth Harris at 303-497-3237 or by e-mail at sarabeth@boulder.nist.gov and asking for paper no. 47-99. Quinn's paper, "Internet Based Management of Data From Welding Sensors," can be obtained from the same contacts by asking for paper no. 43-99.

A series of problems with aircraft manufactured by Boeing Co. led to a Federal Aviation Administration inspection of the company's production and quality systems and an announcement from Boeing that it will conduct a separate, simultaneous review. The review at the company's three plants in the state of Washington is continuing through this month.


Another big corporation's quality woes continue to make big news as Douglas Ivester, chairman of Coca-Cola, resigned late last year after only two years on the job. Coke experienced public relations difficulties in Europe earlier in the year when school children became sick after drinking contaminated products.


At Lockheed Martin (LM), a Corporate Supplier Quality Working Group has undertaken several initiatives in order to lower costs and improve quality in the spirit of LM21 Best Practices, a corporatewide initiative to achieve $2.5 billion to $3 billion in savings by the year 2002. These include development of a corporate preferred supplier program as a best practice, standardization of quality audit requirements for special manufacturing processes, sharing of results of quality system surveys for new suppliers and sharing of quality assurance representatives and field engineers across business units.


George Lofgren, quality management system president of the Registrar Accreditation Board, was elected chairman of the International Auditor and Training Certification Association (IATCA) in late October. Lofgren, who will serve a two-year term as chairman, succeeds John Hulbert, formerly of the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ). Hulbert has taken on the newly created role of executive director, in which he carries out the day-to-day operations of IATCA.


CSA International and the International Code Council recently signed a memorandum of understanding in recognition of each organization's vision of moving toward a comprehensive and coordinated set of model codes and standards. These codes will cover building, mechanical, plumbing and fire related requirements that can be adopted by any jurisdiction in the United States and by regulatory groups around the world.

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