In a world of uncertainty and extreme competitiveness, quality naturally moves up the agenda. How are we all doing? In the UK, the Chartered Quality Institute, reports on the impact quality initiatives have on GDP. Massive as it happens, with their survey showing that quality management boosts the UK economy by an estimated £90bn in 2011.
For the automotive industry, AIAG will report on its global quality survey in September. Meanwhile, Brunel University is targetting the Holy Grail of zero defects for micro manufacturing with a newly announced research project. The aim is develop new technologies and equipment to reduce process variability - detecting and/or avoiding defects as soon as there are conditions for them to appear.
Defect prevention and defect containment is at the heart of process and product variability. Human error is what can cause this variability This is particularly acute where products are largely hand-built or where there is a substantive manual input. Strategies to contain defects due to human error is the subject of a feature on page 20. But technology also has a role to play where human effort is required for assembly of process build etc. And here, this month’s issue describes an innovative approach with ultrasonic-based tracking of operator movement to eliminate errors, see page 6.
Brendan Coyne - Editor QMT