Many industry sectors are complaining about offshore competition and its effect on North American manufacturing. To avoid a “protectionist” label the complaints are directed to a concept called the “level playing field.” What this implies is that the offshore folks are cheating at the game somehow or not following the same set of rules that we in North America have to follow.
I also urged folks who use outside sources for their calibration to get a list of the elements that will be inspected and reported in order to make a proper comparison between competing facilities. Or ask for copies of reports a lab has issued for the types of items you’re thinking of sending them with the recipient’s name blocked out to maintain confidentiality.
I continue to be surprised when the subject of calibration costs comes up. Why? Because so many folks think they are getting a bargain when someone offers a calibration report for $10 when the rest of the industry charges somewhere around $35 for the same thing. Or is it the same thing?
Like many of my colleagues in the gage making business, I am astounded at how many manufacturers blaze away making parts to iffy or unknown specifications. Often the parts are made to a drawing with fuzzy details, and this lack of information is only brought to attention when a truckload of rejected parts hits the receiving dock.
Being in the calibration business for such a long time means we’ve had our share of weird requests, as have many of our customers. While providing a laugh from time to time, lately we seem to be getting more of them and that’s downright scary.
An uncertainty budget is similar to a financial budget in the type of information it can provide. But unlike a financial budget where every element is in dollar terms, the uncertainty budget has to deal with various elements and convert them into linear terms, such as millionths of an inch or microns, when doing gage calibration.
Nothing provokes heated discussion like uncertainty. We see it in the global warming-now relabeled as climate change-debate and scores of other issues. We demand precise yet simple answers to complex matters, as politicians know only too well. And if we can find someone else to blame, that’s even better.
In dimensional measurement, we use numbers rather than fear to make a point. But sometimes the irrational does creep in. For example: “I paid a gazillion dollars for that thing and you’re telling me it’s not accurate enough to measure these parts,” or “we can put a man on the moon but we can’t measure this better than ...”
Those of you who have been following this series of columns know the caveats
that apply so I won’t repeat them this time around. If you don’t know them,
buy, borrow, beg or steal the previous issues for an update.