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Whether at the OEM level or all the way down to the Tier Three suppliers, manufacturing quality system requirements are more stringent than ever. And, gage tracking is key to keeping appropriate and complete records that can help companies meet those requirements. In the past, many companies used a paper index card system, but this meant searching through a card system that swelled as the number of gages grew.
Daniel Bradley, a quality supervisor, recalls those days from past employers. "I remember at one job having to search through a card system of more than 4,000 gages to find the right card, record the information and then refile it," Bradley says. "Often, I would have many cards out while I performed calibrations, and at the end of the day I would have to file them all. With three different inspectors trying to help, it seemed like some of the cards were misplaced or misfiled."
Software tracks gages
Luckily, Bradley does not have to go through this at his current job as a quality supervisor at Dana Corp.'s Spicer Axle facility (Whitsett, NC), where more than 3,500 gages need to be tracked. When the plant opened six years ago, a former quality manager recognized the need for up-to-date tracking software.
The company chose ProGage software from American Quality Systems Inc. (Howell, MI) to aid in gage tracking. ProGage maintains the Whitsett facility's calibration records, links calibration and other procedures to gages, links calibrations to the calibration standards for traceability and includes a section for measurement uncertainty. E-mails can be sent to the engineering group, or another appropriate group, alerting them that one of their gages is due for calibration and should be returned to the quality assurance lab, even when the software is not running, says Bradley.
To track gage error, the facility chose the optional Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility (GR&R) module that has AIAG Gage R&R, stability, linearity, the ANOVA analysis system and short attribute studies. The Gage R&R studies are set on a regular schedule and the program alerts Bradley when a new Gage R&R needs to be performed.
Most importantly, the company has found that the software has helped to reduce the production of bad parts. ProGage can track the part numbers and the specific gages that were used on that part.
"This helps if a gage is found out-of-specification during a routine calibration," says Bradley. "You can quickly contain defective parts before making more bad parts, or notify the customer that they need to return the parts."
American Quality Systems Inc.
Helps track more than 3,500 gages.
The software tracks the part numbers and the specific gages that were used on that part.
It maintains calibration records, links calibration and other procedures to gages, links calibrations to the calibration standards for traceability and has a section for measurement uncertainty.