Baseball and NIST: Curve Balls, Cork Balls and Corked Bats

holdbaseballThe National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is celebrating its centennial this year, has played an interesting part in our national pastime during that 100 years.

In response to a half century of debate among fans and players as to whether a curve ball really curved, Lyman Briggs, NIST's then retired third director, demonstrated in 1959 a thrown ball can curve up to 17.5 inches over the 60 feet 6 inches that separate pitcher and batter. The curve is caused by the ball's spin rather than speed.

Briggs also did research showing the switch to all-cork centers for baseballs during World War II's rubber shortages was a boon for pitchers, causing balls to fall about 30 feet shorter than a prewar ball hit under the same conditions.

Late in the summer of 1986, Major League Baseball asked NIST to suggest a way to determine whether bats had been corked to give balls longer flight. NIST's Materials Reliability Division used an X-ray technique to evaluate bats provided for testing and demonstrated that those that had been hollowed out and replaced with cork could be identified easily.

Details of these and other NIST connections to baseball can be found at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/centennial/baseball.htm.

GE "Bridesmaids" Implementing Welch Systems at 3M and Home Depot

The Wall Street Journal recently reported two General Electric executives passed over as successors to John F. Welch, chair and CEO of General Electric Co., are instituting GE methods at their new companies.

At Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., new chair and CEO E. James McNerney Jr. has carried out major cost cutting and announced goals of instituting Six Sigma, cutting back on the number of suppliers and bringing products to market faster. McNerney had been CEO of GE Lighting.

Meanwhile, Home Depot Inc.'s new president and CEO, Robert Nardelli, has surrounded himself with executives well-versed in GE management techniques and begun implementing Six Sigma and programs to cut store opening expenses and boost operating efficiencies through more centralized distribution. Nardelli was CEO of GE Power Systems.

Youth Engineering Competition Seeks City of Tomorrow Mentors

056V0107 The 2002 National Engineers Week Future City Competition is seeking mentors to assist in teaching youths about the role engineers play in society.

The competition will feature seventh and eighth graders working in teams of three under the guidance of a teacher or engineer mentor to design a city of tomorrow, first on a computer and then as a large, 3-D model. The program also calls on the teams to write abstracts and essays about their cities.

Competitions will advance from school to regional levels in January 2002, where the teams will vie for a free trip to Washington, DC, for the national finals during National Engineers Week, Feb. 17-23, 2002. SimCity 3000 planning and designing software is being donated to every participating school by Maxis Corp of Walnut Creek, CA.

For additional information on volunteering as an engineer mentor, contact Carol Rieg at 301-977-6582 or cardress@aol.com, or visit www.futurecity.org

Hospitals To Begin Collecting Core Measures by July 2002

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has set July 1, 2002, as the date on which accredited hospitals will be expected to begin collecting data on the first sets of the Oryx core performance measures.

The Oryx initiative seeks to integrate outcomes and other performance measurement data into the accreditation process.

JCAHO will release final technical specifications for initial measure sets in October 2001. From November 2001 to June 2002, hospitals will formally select core measure sets based on the healthcare services they provide.

The goals of the initiative are to:

  • Help organizations identify issues that require attention.
  • Establish a national comparative database that facilitates benchmarking, accountability reporting, internal quality improvement activities and health services research.
  • Provide a mechanism for monitoring healthcare organization performance on a continuous basis.
  • Focus on-site evaluation activities on areas of organization performance that represent the greatest opportunities for improvement.

JCAHO also announced creation of a 20-member standards review task force to study its hospital standards and requirements for demonstrating compliance. The task force includes quality directors, medical records directors, nurses, physicians, risk managers and other hospital leaders.

At JCAHO's 2001 national conference Nov. 7-9 in Chicago, the focus will be on quality and patient safety. To register, call 630-792-5800 or visit the infomart at www.jcaho.org

Health Web Site Accreditation Program Announced by URAC

URAC, which accredits managed care and specialty healthcare organizations, has announced a health Web site accreditation program, which will go into effect later this year.

As currently drafted, the standards will address such issues as content, disclosures, complaint mechanisms and consumer privacy. For information, visit www.urac.org

Hi-Ethics (or Health Internet Ethics) has announced its members will rely on URAC's program to demonstrate adherence to quality standards based on Hi-Ethics' 14 principles Web sites can follow to help consumers improve their health. Hi-Ethics unites health Internet sites and content providers.

Six Companies Receive Shingo Excellence Prize For Lean Manufacturing

One Canadian and five U.S plants were presented this year's Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing in early June ceremonies in Dearborn, MI. Individual facilities honored were:

  • Baxter Healthcare Corp. in Mountain Home, AR.
  • Benteler Automotive's Hagen Exhaust Facility in Grand Rapids, MI.
  • Ford Motor Co.'s Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ontario, and Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake.
  • Freudenberg-NOK in Cleveland, GA.
  • Johnson Controls Inc.'s Automotive Systems Group Plant in Greenfield, OH.

The Shingo Prize is presented annually to manufacturers in the United States, Canada and Mexico that deliver world-class performance through lean principles and techniques in core manufacturing and business processes. It is named for the late Shigeo Shingo, who help create the Toyota Production system and other related lean manufacturing processes.

NIST Publishes Manufacturing Guides 0n European Directives

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with the International Trade Administration, has developed six guides to help manufacturers of electric appliances, machinery and medical devices make their products compliant with European standards and receive the CE Mark, a European Union product certification standard.

The guides, known as the NIST Grant/Contract Report Publications, are available in both hard copy and electronic formats for the following EU directives: low voltage, electromagnetic compatibility, machinery, medical device, active implantable medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices.

For information or copies of the guides, contact Maureen Breitenberg at 301-975-4031 or maureen.breitenberg@nist.gov

NIST recently awarded $500,000 to the American National Standards Institute in support of international standardization and conformity assessment activities influencing international trade and regulation and help advance the aims of the U.S. National Standards Strategy.

Short Runs

A Boeing Co. spokesman said, "The fact that we found the damaged wires proves our quality system works," when CNN reported Boeing inspectors found intentional wire damage on at least seven 737s at a company assembly plant. The damage was found during routine service testing.


The World Research Group will hold the Seventh IT Metrics Summit Oct. 16 and 17 in Orlando, FL. The summit deals with the use of IT metrics and the Capability Maturity Model framework as a guide for measuring and improving IT operations. The program will be geared to senior level management and will focus on strategic planning and performance, process improvement, architecture systems analysis, quality assurance and business development. To register, call 800-647-7600 or 212-869-7231, e-mail info@worldrg.com or visit www.worldrg.com


The draft of ISO 19011 for auditing both ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 is available through the American National Standards Institute or from sales@iso.ch. A five-month ballot on the standard will close Oct. 31.

A.V. Feigenbaum recently received a proclamation from the governor of Massachusetts to mark the 50th anniversary of his book Total Quality Control.


Lincoln Electric Holdings in Cleveland received the 2001 Quality Service Leadership Award from the Rotary Club of Cleveland and Camp Inc., a nonprofit professional organization providing consulting services to northeastern Ohio manufacturers. The award was presented to recognize the company's "excellence in Six Sigma and other quality programs."


The International Federation of Standards Users (IFAN) is conducting a survey on the use of international standards. Membership of IFAN includes national organizations for the application of standards, companies, professional and trade associations, and government agencies. For information, go to www.ifan-online.org


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded a recent quality improvement study that shows physicians who received periodic feedback reports based on chart reviews of patients with diabetes mellitus, plus performance goals called "achievable benchmarks of case" significantly out-performed similar doctors who received only the chart reviews and standard performance feedback.


The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) will offer two new training courses, How To Transition to ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 9001:2000 Transition Training for Internal Quality Auditors, throughout the year at AIAG's headquarters in Southfield, MI. To register or obtain additional information, call 248-358-3003.


The Quality Systems Committee of the American Foundry Society has issued a call for papers for the 106th Casting Congress May 4-8, 2002, in Kansas City, MO. Quality professionals, researchers and suppliers may submit papers on new technologies, procedures, equipment, products and other innovations that have enhanced quality in a general industrial or metalcasting industry related environment. Deadline for papers is Oct. 1. Information, guides and paper templates can be found at www.afsinc.org under "casting congress." For additional information, call Steve Robison at 800-537-4237 or 847-824-0181.  

Would You Like To Be Published in 'QP'?

Quality Progress is now accepting manuscripts for its 2002 editorial calendar. Here are some of the topics we'll be covering:

  • January--The Future of Six Sigma.
  • February--Don't Eat the Beef! Quality Problems in the Food and Restaurant Industries; plus the Environment and Sustainability: the Future of Quality.
  • March--Why Standards Are the Staple of the Industry; plus Out Go the Lights: Quality in Utilities.
  • April--How Quality Plays on Wall Street; plus Quality on the Move (automotive sector).
  • May--Certification and Training.
  • June--Quality Takes Flight: The Loss of Customer Focus in the Airline Industry; plus ISO in the Trenches.
  • July--Quality 101.
  • August--Quality and Top Management; plus Quality Around the Globe.
  • September--Software Update; plus How To Become a Baldrige Examiner, Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality.
  • October--Quality Goes to School: Education Issue.
  • November--Part I, Career Development: The Changing Face of Quality.
  • December--Part II, Career Development: Annual Salary Survey; plus Intellectual Property Management and Data Warehousing.
  • For author guidelines and a complete editorial calendar, visit Quality Progress online at www.asq.org. E-mail questions or manuscript submissions to manuscripts@asq.org.

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