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Sherlock Ohms

Inaccurate Measurements Skew Data

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Dave Palmer
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Re: inaccurate measurements and screwed-up data
Dave Palmer   8/9/2012 6:22:22 PM
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@Tool_maker: That's true -- but then again, sometimes the "new guy" finds problems where no one else does, simply because all the "old guys" are so accustomed to looking at the same old problems that they no longer even recognize them as problems, but "just the way things are." Sometimes experience can be just as blinding as ignorance.

William K.
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Platinum
inaccurate measurements and screwed-up data
William K.   8/9/2012 8:18:56 PM
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A few years ago I was a "new guy" in a research group, and I did find a serious problem. Of course, being aware of how departmental politics worked, I was careful in handling my discovery. What I did was ask my associate, the scientist that I was supporting, what the significance of the one parameter that we were measuring meant. At first his comment was that it really did not mean very much, but then two days later he asked about how certain I was that my measurements were correct. I described my procedure and he was satisfied with the accuracy. The following Monday I was asked to join a meeting where our manager explained that my associate had noticed a problem with some of our original assumptions, (made prior to my joining the group), and we needed to make some fundamnetal changes in our research direction. It was very clear to me that this was due to my questioning about that parameter. The people that I was working with knew what had happened, and I gained a lot more respect from them after that.

Tool_maker
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Platinum
Re: inaccurate measurements and screwed-up data
Tool_maker   8/14/2012 1:01:06 PM
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Dave: I said the new guy finds problems that do not exist, not that he finds problems which have been overlooked. For example: on parts in a car frame the only dimensions that mean anything are the areas where a robot will weld and hole locations where something else will bolt into place. The rest is just transition from point to point and unless there is an interference with something else, it is in the wind and an design engineer probably signed off on the variance when the part was tooled. Many times material has been added to improve strength. The part may be on thousands of vehicles without a problem.

Then a new quality guy comes in and rejects a delivery because an absolutely meaningless dimension is out of spec. I know every drawing should be updated in a timely fashion, but that often does not happen in the real world. One engineer at a truck manufacturer told me it cost more to change the drawing than to grant an order-order deviance. So it was only after our customer was in a "line-down" situation that someone in engineering straightened the situation out by issuing a "permanent deviance authorization. (And before anyone gripes about American made autos, this was on a Toyota.) 

I am not saying this is always the case, but most times when get rejections on a part which was tooled in the 60's and has been in contiuous reorder on a variety of new models, we find there is a new guy involved. But then again the new guys often keep us dinosaurs on our toes, so it is all good.

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