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Three Proven Tactics to Ensure Supplier Quality Assurance

Posted by Mike Knicker on Aug 14, 2013 10:45:00 AM

ensure supplier quality

When you work with subcontractors to fabricate parts or components, you must be sure that their quality standards are consistent both with your standards and with any regulatory requirements for the finished product. Ensuring supplier quality assurance is an essential step in your own QA process, but how can you confirm that all your subcontractors meet your specifications?

Three Steps to Ensure Supplier Quality Assurance

You can't constantly look over every supplier's shoulder, but if you follow three simple steps, you can establish and verify quality standards that will help ensure that you get what you want from your subcontractors:
  1. Clear expectations - Communicate your expectations both in your engineering drawings and in discussions with your suppliers. They can't produce quality results if they don't know what you expect. After you have supplied engineering drawings, confirm that your supplier is satisfied with them and does not need any clarification.

  2. Precise engineering drawings - Don't leave any room for interpretation in your engineering drawings. The more precise details you can provide, the more likely you are to get the results you desire. Remember that a good engineering drawing takes into account the design intent, the manufacturing process, and the inspection/verification process.

  3. Certifications - When possible, look for suppliers that have ISO 9001 certification. When this is not possible - for example, in the case of small specialty suppliers that don't have the resources to achieve certification - consider a survey, audit, or other self-certification process.

Creating a supplier quality assurance protocol in advance is always more cost-effective than solving the inevitable problems that will arise if you don't follow these steps.

Q-PLUS Labs can help ensure supplier quality assurance at many steps in the process. We work with many small manufacturers to satisfy their customers' QA requirements. We can also provide third-party independent quality assurance and quality control inspections including first article inspection, in-process inspection, and process control. If you need assistance with any quality assurance issues, contact us today for a consultation.

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Topics: quality, supplier quality assurance

What Are The Types of Reverse Engineering and Why Does it Matter?

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 8, 2012 2:58:00 PM

reverse engineering typesReverse engineering can be used for a broad range of applications, from precisely duplicating an airplane part that is no longer manufactured to making a mold to replicate an antique statuette. The type of reverse engineering required will depend on the specific application and the necessary degree of precision. Knowing these factors in advance can help you determine the type of reverse engineering that makes the most sense so you can get useful results and make the appropriate budget decisions.

Exploring two extreme ends of the spectrum illustrates the difference between reverse engineering types and why it is important to understand them.

Case 1: Precision is important

Various factors are considered when determining the best method for reverse engineering. Take the example of an aircraft part or biomedical device. You have the original part, but no design specifications. In this case, the following factors are considered:
  1. Original object - Because having a high degree of precision is important, several original parts are required to generate the most accurate duplicate part. These several parts will be measured and compared; the average measurements are typically used to replicate the part.
  2. Tolerance - This represents the range of measurements that are acceptable. When working with a regulatory body such as the FAA or FDA, you generally must stay within a certain allowable deviation.
  3. Accuracy - A high degree of accuracy is required to meet the desired function of the part.
  4. Measurement approach - Many types of measurements using various contact and non-contact sensors will be taken with either a low-density ordered data or high-density data approach, possibly with millions of points to get the most accurate and detailed information possible.
  5. Purpose - You may want to create new tooling or parts for a high-precision application, or duplicate a part for which you do not have existing specifications. The result might be parametric CAD models, 3D mesh files, or engineering drawings that can be used for manufacturing.
Case 2: Precision is less important

When replicating an object that is not subject to regulatory scrutiny, a less strict approach can be taken. The same factors apply, but they are handled differently:
  1. Original object - Generally only a single original object is required.
  2. Tolerance - The tolerance levels may not be important at all, making the measurement requirements significantly less onerous.
  3. Accuracy - The original object may have a more free-form geometry that does not require the same degree of accuracy.
  4. Measurement approach - Only 3D scanner measurement data may be required to generate a suitable duplicate and engineering drawings are generally not required.
  5. Purpose - You may want to get a digital representation of a product for a marketing video or reproduce products for manufacturing. The result might be a 3D mesh or non-parametric CAD model that can be sent to a rapid prototyping machine and also allows you to compare reproductions to the original.

Of course, there are a broad range of examples that fall between these two ends of the spectrum. A good reverse engineering lab can help you determine which reverse engineering approach is right for your project.

If you need reverse engineering services, contact the experts at Q-PLUS Labs. We provide 3D scanning & digitizing, precision CMM measurement, 3D CAD modeling, and engineering drawing services to help you reverse engineer any type of part. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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Topics: manufacturing, quality, dimensional inspection, reverse engineering, measurements, engineering

Five Common Manufacturing Errors Stopped By Dimensional Measurement

Posted by Mike Knicker on Oct 26, 2012 9:15:00 AM

dimensional measurement common manufacturing errorsDimensional measurement is useful for much more than just production line setup and quality control. Manufacturing businesses can also greatly benefit from dimensional measurement in both prototypes and research.

Dimensional inspection during the production process can help prevent costly errors such as:
  • Flawed batches - A production line that creates duplicate products requires precision setup and alignment. Errors in the production line can lead to entire batches of flawed goods, which can be quite costly for business owners. Dimensional measurement is worth the investment to prevent these expensive mistakes.
  • Defective parts - Using dimensional inspection as part of the quality control process for high-precision manufacturing ensures that each part meets the required specifications.
Quality control is essential for producing consistent products, but implementing dimensional measurement even earlier in the process can help you prevent costly manufacturing errors that can lead to the following problems:
  • Friction - Using a part that is just a little too large can result in friction, which leads to a shorter equipment life and possibly even greater problems. Using dimensional inspection to create properly sized parts can help prevent this problem.
  • Stiction - Surface characteristics and size of manufacturing components can be very important in preventing stiction problems that may cause motors to work harder and become less efficient. Ensuring that a component is properly sized and has the specified surface characteristics can reduce errors caused by stiction.
  • Mechanical stress - Improper alignment can put unnecessary stress on ball bearings and moving parts, causing more wear and tear on the machinery and possibly leading to equipment failure. Laser alignment can help prevent this problem and lengthen equipment life.

The entire point of manufacturing is to create a process that is repeatable, scalable, and reliable. When successful, it results in lower manufacturing costs and lower pricing for the end user. However, precise, accurate measurements are required for any manufacturing line to be successful.

Q-PLUS Labs offers a broad range of dimensional measurement services to help you avoid these manufacturing errors and more. Starting with a capability study is an excellent way to save time and money and improve the efficiency of your manufacturing process. Contact us today to learn more or to discuss how we can work together.

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Topics: manufacturing, dimensional measurement, quality