CLEARWATER, FL-More than 120 of the top quality measurement professionals in the United States gathered in the sun for four days of the 2007 Manufacturing & Measurement Conference & Workshop (MMCW) in Clearwater, FL, April 23 to 26. Held at the Marriott Sand Key resort, attendees heard from top professionals in manufacturing about the challenges and solutions of making measurement and quality an effective tool for their companies.

Pat Nugent, vice president of metrology systems at Mahr Federal Inc. (Providence, RI) kicked off the two-day conference portion of MMCW 2007 with his keynote address on reducing inspection costs by measuring more. Nugent explained that this seeming contradiction could be explained by defining inspection as something done after a part has already been completed and value has been added. Measurement is done as a part proceeds through manufacturing, and cost can be avoided both if a part is found defective, as well as by altering the process itself so that further defective parts are prevented from being made. Building off this theme, many of the speakers during the two-day conference examined how techniques and technologies such as in-line measurement, machine vision and statistical analysis could work to improve one’s process both in the manufacturing environment and in the laboratory.

Wednesday keynote speaker, Dean Beutel, director of technical resources at Caterpillar Inc. (Peoria, IL) continued the theme of increasing the value of metrology, by speaking about it could solve many current and future manufacturing challenges. Talks given by Praveen Gupta of Accelper Consulting and Bob Burke of Value Innovation Partners Ltd., addressed how quality fits into lean systems and must become even more precise. The message of the role of emerging needs in precision measurement and solutions was emphasized in a panel discussion that included participants from the Boeing Co., Marposs Corp., Mahr Federal and Rivers Precision LLC.

Speakers also shared the significance of accreditation, as well as reported on the results of measurement studies that will advance the industry, during those two days.

Suppliers were on hand to demonstrate their products and services that could make the conference topics a reality. Attendees spent a great deal of time sharing challenges and hearing solutions from exhibitors inside the sold-out area. Both exhibitors and event sponsors reported that they met valuable decision makers at MMCW.

The two-day conference was preceded by three workshops on Monday. Walter Nowocin of Medtronic Inc. (Minneapolis, MN), Ted Doiron of NIST (Gaithersburg, MD) and Dave Harris of Glastonbury Southern Gage (Erin, TN) gave in-depth workshops on calibration management software, gage blocks and thread gaging, respectively. Praveen Gupta conducted a hands-on Six Sigma workshop on Thursday, April 26, where attendees actually reviewed their ongoing Six Sigma projects and received assistance.

MMCW 2007 also provided opportunities for networking and relaxing in the warm Florida sunshine. Numerous breaks, evening networking receptions and a Wednesday night dinner cruise gave attendees a chance to share ideas and solutions with their peers.

“I was completely energized by this conference,” said one attendee. “It was great to hear these speakers and meet so many of my colleagues; you sometimes feel isolated in your shop. I am already making plans to come back next year and bring my boss with me.”