Everyone should make an effort to improve themselves. One of the best ways this can be done is through education. This allows growth, which makes education a personal investment. After all, knowledge is one thing no one can take away. It is a self-promotion, and it benefits us all. Learning is also invaluable since it helps us make better decisions — allowing us to look at options in a better light. Typically, we learn from our mistakes, which is recognizably a popular method. However, there are other tools we can decide to use in order to bolster our fundamental understanding of manufacturing and quality concepts. After all, if we care about the quality of our gears, then we should care about the quality of our decisions even more.
One place where this can easily be attained is through the AUKOM organization (Ausbildung Koordinatenmesstechnik e. V.).
AUKOM helps metrologists stay on their toes on the basics of metrology while demonstrating the latest developments in the field. For those who are just getting started in the field of metrology, AUKOM is the quintessential introduction. Its aim is to provide a manufacturer-neutral, thorough, and certifiable training regarding industrial-production metrology. This will result in three crucial aspects inherent to anyone who cares about the quality of their products as well as their customers: to reduce costs, to minimize waste, and to make effective decisions.
Wenzel America is AUKOM certified to teach Levels 1, 2, 3, and GD&T. The instruction is carried out in a classroom environment, either on-site or at the partner company's facility for up to 12 students. Classes are in presentation format, and students receive their own training manual. Instructors also enhance the lectures with hand tools and CMM and software demonstrations, if possible. Another aspect of the courses is the open discussion encouraged between the students, which often comes naturally given their different backgrounds. If students pass the test on the last day, they receive a certificate demonstrating their ability in the concepts covered by that course. This is a great way to become recognized through an organization growing worldwide.
Another great resource, especially for gearheads, is AGMA. AGMA's education mission and vision is to "be the industry source for education and training," and it is surely holding up to its commitment. I attended the Basic Training for Gear Manufacturing class, which was well organized, and I look forward to participating in future class offerings. There's no doubt education is important to AGMA by the looks of its goals for the next couple of years. Here is its roadmap for 2017 and 2018:
- Develop an instructor recruitment/succession plan for AGMA's many programs and classes.
- Develop two new courses focused on gear design and new materials.
- Expand education and workforce development partnerships.
- Consider the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) as value drivers and join its efforts to ensure relevant information and education is delivered by AGMA.
- Develop an instructor recruitment/succession plan for AGMA's programs and classes.
- Develop new courses for gear engineers.
- Explore opportunities for a second location of the Gear Manufacturing School.
Finally, in a production environment, especially in quality control, a team of employees in an organization should have no ambiguity when discussing even the most trivial of topics. In order to make parts correctly that spin at 10,000 rpm or can fit inside your hip, a set of rules had to be established to avoid uncertainty in stating where each hole should be located from a particular datum or how round a bore should be.
Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) is the system that defines and communicates engineering tolerances. It tells the manufacturing staff what degree of accuracy and precision is needed on each controlled feature of a part. It doesn't just help define how much variation a specific feature on a part may have but also the variation between features as well.
There are multiple standards available worldwide that describe the symbols and define the rules used in GD&T. One such standard is American Society of Mechanical Engineers Y14.5, whose latest and active standard is the one from 2009. Most gear prints I've come across are held to this standard.
If you already use GD&T daily in your workplace and you'd really like to demonstrate your technical know-how with this language, you are able to get certified by ASME to a standard. ASME established the Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing Professional (GDTP) Certification Program, which provides the means to recognize proficiency in the understanding and application of the geometric dimensioning and tolerancing principles described in the Y14.5 standard. I am an ASME Technologist GDTP certificate holder to the 1994 standard. This has helped me be more efficient and communicative, leading to happier customers.
It is important to remember that the standards serve as a complete method to deliver design intent of parts through symbolic language between designers, manufacturers, and quality control. This means communication and collaboration between all departments is vital for the production process, not only due to reduction in cost, time, and energy, but most importantly, for the customer.
This is because GD&T can help solve one of the most important problems in manufacturing: to make tolerances as wide as possible. A tighter tolerance does not equal a better part; it equals a more expensive part.
These ideas can be summed up with the story of a strong woodcutter who got a job from a timber merchant who paid him well. The first day, the woodcutter cut down 18 trees. "That's great! Keep at it," said his boss. Motivated by his boss' words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day but only brought back 15 trees. The day after that, he tried even harder but only brought back 10 trees. The woodcutter went to apologize to his boss. "I must be losing my strength," he said. The boss smiled and asked him, "When was the last time you sharpened your axe?"
Sometimes, taking a step back now means we can take two steps forward in the future. With all the resources from which to take advantage out there, there's no reason we can't all be making A2 quality gears.