Quality is job 1 – Ford Motor Co.
Quality goes in before the name goes on – Zenith Electronics
Quality never goes out of style – Levi Strauss & Co.

When you talk to most people about quality, they’re generally thinking of something subjective. Quality means well made, sturdy, durable – a vague feeling that one product is better than another. In the manufacturing world, feelings aren’t involved.

Quality is a measure of how closely parts fit their specifications. The question isn’t, “Does this feel strong?” It’s “Does this 2.900mm component fit into a 2.905mm slot?”

It’s a tough field, demanding high accuracy to keep manufacturers compliant with ever-tightening specifications, forcing technology providers to develop new tools and systems. The advent of Big Data/the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)/Industry 4.0 initiatives have made inspection even more critical.

Instead of recording whether systems are producing in-spec parts, modern inspection equipment collects the data needed to identify manufacturing problems, spots machine failure when it’s still cost-effective to repair, and informs managers on why some plants are performing better than others.

Instead of simple go/no-go gaging, technology providers must now offer connectivity to various enterprise resources planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) software packages. That creates challenges, but it’s a huge opportunity as well.

Quality has traditionally been a cost center for manufacturers – a prerequisite for getting work, but not something that aids productivity or profitability. The digitization of manufacturing changes that cost equation as the information generated from inspection equipment serves as the basis for future improvements.

To take advantage of this massive shift, the Inspection Target Guide 2019 offers a look at applications, technologies, and equipment reshaping manufacturing.

— Elizabeth, Robert, Eric, & Michelle