The information incompatibility problem in manufacturing metrology is costly to everyone. The standards solution eliminates these costs, as long as there is end user support and the standard and its implementations are verifiably correct, complete, unambiguous, and timely.
The scope of this industry-led effort is on the exchange of information between quality measurement-related activities such as design, planning, measurement, analysis, and process feedback.
NIST’s role is to 1) help define correct, complete, and unambiguous interface standards, 2) design, build, and maintain conformance tests, 3) help design and lead public interoperability tests, and 4) act as standards consultants and leaders in industry standards organizations.
The incompatibility problem for quality measurement systems
The information necessary to ensure product and process quality on the shop floor consists of many different types of information – measurement equipment commands, dimensional measurement results (point clouds, scanned points, probe points, portable device data, etc.), general quality measurement data (measurement value, date, time, lot number, part IDs, etc.), measurement equipment types (CMMs, in-line gauges, hand-held gauges, white-light scanners, laser trackers, etc.), measurement process plans, part geometries, feature geometries, feature dimensions and tolerances.
What activities produce and consume this information? Manufacturing measurement can be broken down the following set of distinct quality measurement activities:
- Product Design (CAD + PMI (Product Manufacturing Information) )
- Measurement Process Planning
- Measurement Plan Execution
- Measurement Equipment Control
- Product Quality Analysis.
A multitude of products are currently available to perform each activity. Each product claims some uniqueness or superiority in the performance of its activity. This provides freedom and choice to users. However, there is a downside to the abundance of product choices – language barriers abound. Each product reads and writes the same information communicated by its competitors, but in its own unique language. Unless neighboring products come from the same vendor, costly translation is required, and translation is completely non-value-added. As if that weren’t enough, translation diminishes information quality.
Information Exchange Standards for Quality Measurement
Information standards enable common activities: bring your notebook computer anywhere in the world and you will quickly and cheaply find a wireless Internet connection — all due to globally-adopted WiFi standards. On the other hand, bring your U.S. cell phone overseas and you will spend frustrating amounts of time and money before you can finally call your friends and colleagues again — all due to the absence of globally-adopted information standards for cell phones.
Like cell phones users, quality professionals suffer from the lack of globally-adopted standards for the exchange of information between software (or hardware) components. The cost of translating quality measurement results alone is in the range of $5 Million per year for SPC (Statistical Process Control) software vendors in North America only. But this is child’s play compared to experiences in the CAD domain. “There are probably about 180 companies in the US alone providing CAD migration [translation] services, representing a market of about $2.3 Billion US, $5.5 Billion worldwide.”<#_ftn1> Almost no one stops to consider that these costs are non-value added.
Information exchange standards will solve this language barrier problem with a modest investment of time, effort, and patience – all without the high costs associated with other approaches.
The NIST role
NIST works on industry led efforts that have explicit and persistent support from key end users and vendors in U.S. based corporations. NIST’s role is to 1) help define correct, complete, and unambiguous interface standards, 2) design, build, and maintain conformance tests, 3) help design and lead public interoperability tests, and 4) act as standards consultants and leaders in industry standards organizations.
February 1, 2008
Lead Organizational Unit: