Quality Mailbag

February 1, 2004
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Letters to the Editor

NEEDS VS. WANTS

Dear Editor,

I think promoting American manufacturing is a great goal. The way that I see things, the American consumer has completely lost touch with the value of an item in the pursuit to "have it all."

Whenever we open our wallets, we want the lowest price no matter where the product was made or how much is cost to make it. I recently experienced this; a major discount retail chain that once touted its "Made in America" products had very few domestic items. A school folder was a mere 2 cents, so we could buy more of them, but do we need to?

I think Americans have lived in prosperity for so long that they've lost touch with the difference between "needs" and "wants." Our lives are cluttered with all the things that we "need"-the Internet, cell phones, cable TV, DVDs and so on. For years people survived without these things.

How do we have good paying jobs? Simple, the old-fashioned way of a good competitive environment. By forcing businesses to be competetive. By not awarding CEOs for closing down poor performing businesses that are actually the result of poor management in the first place. By purchasing not simply based on cost, but based on value.

And yes, there is a huge market potential in China. But at their current wages, will they ever have the expendable income needed to become the "new Americans?"

Name Withheld By Request



BEWILDERING GD&T

Dear Editor,

The article, "3-D and GD&T Takes a Concept to Production," (Quality, August 2003, p. 44) is bewildering.

Author Mark Foster's versions 1 through 4 contain ambiguities produced by the use of bilateral tolerances that are inherently ambiguous and variables introduced by the use of datum features whose defaults are RFS instead of datum references whose defaults are dependent on feature size from MMC. The fault lies within ANSI Y14.5, and not Mr. Foster. The older Y14.5 versions were more correct than the 1994 version. But all Y14.5 versions only provide the designer with GD&T ingredients, without providing the recipe of how to mix and cook them to achieve product fit, performance and lowest cost. Y14.5 is a dictionary and not a grammar book.

Mr. Foster says, "Get approval from manufacturing metrology, purchasing, sales, management and quality." No! Only designers and drafters need to have this responsibility. Others should be interested, but the "buck" stops at the designer.

GD&T training and learning is easy. It can be done in less than 1 day and not the 3 to 6 days of expensive seminars. But we must purge the pollution and unnecessary methods in Y14.5. Pareto's law works- 80% of what you need for GD&T from Y14.5 is in 20% of the book.

Tom Berilla

Retired Mfg. Engr.

Silver Spring, MD



THE TRUE COSTS

Dear Editor,

I think you made an excellent point with Sematech ("Can't Keep It All," Quality, November 2003, p. 6). I remember when I first heard of that group, no one was sure it would succeed, but it did and it is a lesson for all U.S. manufacturing companies.

What companies should be asking is not, "What is the cost of manufacturing?" but "What is the cost of losing control of manufacturing?"

Many times, issues such as potential quality problems, problems occurring far from the source and difficult to solve from a distance, and the mound of extra work made necessary because of a process that now has many extra steps, are not included in assessing costs.

For example, a company I'm familiar with decided to stop buying raw material and then cut it to size. They are now buying parts. Did they factor the increase in incoming inspection? Did they consider the cost of no longer being flexible and endangering cycle time should they receive a bad or wrong part? Did they consider the extra work now necessary to replace these parts when necessary?

Howard Swartz

AAI Corp.

Reisterstown, MD



NOT SO BAD

Dear Editor,

The reason the recovery doesn't seem as robust as you expect ("A ‘Curious' Recovery," Quality, December 2003, p. 6) is because the recession was much milder than reported. The recession of 2002, billed as "the worst economy since the Great Depression," was, in fact, a mild recession with relatively low job loss. When your starting point is higher than what you've been lead to believe, the increase seems less dramatic.

Politicization of economic data has been around since economic data was first developed. It used to be that the news organizations tried to keep some balance in the reporting of this data, but this has changed in recent years. News is now entertainment and this has lead to maximization of bad news and how bad the bad news is. This means that any outrageous statement, no matter how obviously untrue it is, broadcast across the country, is given legitimacy.

This is an interesting phenomenon that is caused by cultural and technology changes rather than "bad reporting." It will be interesting to watch how this evolves over time.

Lee Merrithew

ICM Controls Corp.

Cicero, NY

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