Introduction

QUALITY CONTROL involves several basic principles, where the planning of a quality control program requires an understanding of process variables and the reality of statistical variation in any process or measurement. Therefore, this article attempts to first summarize the basic concepts of statistical process control as a tool to measure, quantify, and analyze inherent variations. This understanding is considered essential in present-day industrial manufacturing.

In addition, the unique aspects of quality control planning in P/M parts production are also discussed in this article. Quality control for P/M parts production involves several process factors such as powder properties, press settings, tooling designs, and furnace conditions. These factors are discussed in terms of their impact on process variations and quality improvement. This article also discusses the methods that address P/M quality control in terms of:

• Defect control by prevention or detection

• Dimensional control for form and fit requirements

Defect and dimensional control are two major quality measures for P/M production, and each has a unique set of attributes for inspection and quality assessments.

Finally, it should also be noted that quality control also depends on an effective work environment that facilitates involvement and communication. This basic factor is often exemplified by the 14 Points for Management by W. Edward Deming, the eminent statistician who championed the role of statistical process control for industrial application. His 14 Points are:

• Create constancy of purpose for the improvement of product or service.

• Adopt the new philosophy of process control and variation reduction.

• Cease dependence on mass inspection for quality control.

• End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price.

• Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service in order to improve quality and productivity and thus continuously decrease costs.

• Institute thorough and better job-related trainings.

• Institutionalize leaderships.

• Drive out fears, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.

• Break down barriers between departments.

• Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce that ask for zero defects and new levels of productivity.

• Eliminate work standards on the factory floor.

• Remove the barriers that rob employees at all levels in the company of their right to pride of workmanship.

• Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

• Put everybody in the organization to work to accomplish the transformation.

The 14 Points define essential institutional elements of quality and productivity improvement through statistical thinking and methods. It should also be noted that in the spirit of his 14 Points, Deming refines and improves these tenets.

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