Got a metrology, reliability, engineering or quality-related question that you need answered? Visiting one of the four forums listed in this month's Web site review may help you find the answer. This Web site allows engineering professionals to meet and talk online. On the homepage, People Forums are divided by professional fields and under each field is a list of topics on various disciplines. This site is easy to navigate because a visitor can either click on the professional field name or on one of the topics listed underneath. Each topic has a question and then a number of responses to that technical question. Near the bottom of the homepage are Things Forums and Career Corner Forums. These forums list standards, engineering computer programs, forums by industry, and corporate survival trends and strategies. Visitors can become members to receive additional benefits. This site is informative for engineers. This Web site's forums focus on reliability issues such as reliability management issues, reliability metrics, reliability methods and techniques, reliability training and educational resources, benchmarking and best practices, and root cause analysis. Each topic includes a description, the number of topics for that issue, the number of replies posted for the issue and the date something was last posted. A lit light bulb icon in front of each issue lets visitors know if it is a new issue. Once a visitor clicks on an issue, another page appears that lists the discussion thread. Here, a visitor can see who posted the question, the number of replies and when the last person posted a reply. Clicking on a topic brings up a page with the author of the question, the question, the replies to the question and when the question and answer were posted. This homepage is part of Agilent Technologies' Web site, but once a visitor clicks Home, they will have difficulty trying to get back to the forum. The easiest way is to type, "Metrology Forum" in the Quick Search field. The Metrology Forum is dedicated to calibration issues. To get in the forum, a visitor clicks on one of the topics listed under Explore. Once a visitor clicks on a topic, another page comes up with a list of issues. Each issue has detailed information with links to definitions or explanations. For example, under Basics, link to the Calibration or Verification issue. Each page then takes visitors to several other links for more information on the topic. Clicking on Download from the sidebar links visitors to a page that describes different types of software available for downloading onto a PC. This Web site has forums on ISO, Auditing, Automotive, General Quality, and Software, as well as a Help and Suggestion area. Each issue includes the number of topics on that issue, the number of posted answers, the last date a reply was posted and the moderator for that issue. Then, under each issue, is a description about it. Once a visitor clicks on an issue, a page comes up with a listing of questions for that issue. Here a visitor will find the name of who started the topic, the number of replies for that question and the last date someone replied to the question. The only frustrating thing about the site are the icons in front of each question. To find out what each one means, a visitor has to link to the FAQ page because there is only a key for two of the icons at the bottom of the page. By moving your mouse over an icon, a brief description explains where to go for more information regarding icons and a description of what that icon means. The site is easy to navigate and visitors will find that it is easy to read questions and make comments. The icons on the page can be a bit distracting, but the site has some good information.

Need Some Help?
This month, Quality Online visitor Jim needs some help. Here's his query:

"We do in-house calibration for measuring such things as barometers. We need a reference standard for these items: tolerance, accuracy and repeatability. I am looking for a reference, even a general reference, that can help. Thank you."

Can you help Jim or any of our Quality Online visitors? Do you have a problem you would like to have addressed? Go to the Reader Forum and post your quality and manufacturing problems, or see if you can help a fellow visitor.

From "Reader Forum" visitor Salmi.

Q: How can a Quality Control System be designed for a production of about 500 pieces per year?

An answer came from Quality Online visitor Joe.
A: There are a number of ways, but 100% inspection is the first. In years past, we have filed control charts for small orders and had a matching log of the machine's setup parameters on the last run, so we could start up under the same conditions and use the same charts as where we left off on the last run. Thus, subsequent runs of the same product are all plotted on the same control charts, with notes made as to where the next lot began and ended. Or, take a few more samples on setup to ensure you are on target before releasing the machine to complete the run. With some systems, there is so little variation, that the only need is to make sure you are on target when you set up the run. Simplify the measuring system if possible. Use go-no go fixtures that assure 100% inspection of product rather than using control charts and variable data. If possible, use the customer's matching components for a 100% functional, fit and form test. No statistics are needed if the customer will agree to a form, fit and function test. There could be other ideas, but further information on the product, process and quality characteristics measured, and the gages involved would be needed.

Throughout November, Quality Online visitors were asked about their company-related New Year's resolutions.

Fifty-four percent of Quality Online respondents said they do make company-related resolutions, while 46% said they don't. For those who responded, the principle motives behind the resolutions varied. Twenty-four percent want to increase production capacity, 20% want to reduce costs, 16% want to comply with ISO and QS-9000 standards, 8% want to improve cycle time and an additional 8% want to enhance machine and process flexibility. However, 33% of respondents said if only one resolution could come true, it would be for more specialized training.