Bridging the gap is a popular idiom derived from Old English. In its earliest use—and not surprisingly—bridge meant “to make a causeway” and gap meant “an opening in a wall.” So, to the drywallers, civil engineers, and road construction crews of the early 14th century (Ha!), bridging a gap was quite literal.

By the early 17th century, the idiom started to take shape as the metaphorical term—that is, the need for an intermediary—we know today. Phrases like stopgap and bridging the gap were adopted to describe problem solving and finding connectivity between two seemingly non-connectable things.

Take for example, that there are an estimated 6,500 languages spoken in the world. Exchanging information or ideas between people speaking just two of these different languages is, no doubt, a barrier. One of the world’s most used solutions to this problem is an intermediary, i.e. a translator. Another was lingua franca, “a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.” Lingua franca was developed in the late 17th century as a mixture of Italian with French, Greek, Arabic, and Spanish. Today, lingua franca is also known as a bridge language, common language, or link language. In fact, in preparation for communicating with those using a language outside of the 6,500 known to the world—aliens—the Voyager Golden Record includes greetings in 55 of the World’s languages. And, at least according to every movie I’ve ever seen about alien encounters, we also use the “universal” language—math.

And there are many more examples of bridging the gaps in our society. Trying to close the education gap between the rich and the poor led to scholarships. Much of the business world also touts the idea of education itself as the solution to the gap between those at the top of the company hierarchy and those in the middle and on the bottom.

Other instances promote the idea of common ground as a way of connecting the nonconnectable. The lexicon is filled with stories of people and ideas that were polarized, even hated one another, who/that found harmony in a common interest or like. Experts on finding love endlessly expound the need for common interest and advice on bridging the generational gap between parents and children often suggests communicating and finding common ground and interests.

Over the years, Quality has provided insight and opinion on bridging the skills gap. But there is another gap that deserves our attention—the gap between quality inspection and the shop floor.

As author George Schuetz writes, “As with every other function in modern manufacturing operations, inspection is subject to the management team’s efforts at cost control or cost containment. It is good business sense to maximize the value of every dollar spent, but it also means that hard choices must be made when selecting handheld gages. Issues as diverse as personnel, training, warranties, throughput requirements, manufacturing methods and materials, the end-use of the workpiece, and general company policies on gaging methods and suppliers may influence both the effectiveness and the cost of the inspection process. Many companies have achieved economies by moving inspection out of the lab and onto the shop floor.”

So check out “Choosing the Right Smart Handheld Gage” and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!