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Quality engineering tools for assembly and small batches manufacturing


IT solutions are needed by users to effectively support advanced Total Quality Management (TQM) concepts aimed at ensuring the zero defect objective at minimal cost. As the advanced TQM concepts are more sensitive to perturbations in manufacturing systems than traditional ones, they require effective preventative quality control (QC) and strong feedback loops in order to guarantee their efficiency. QUETA's objective is to develop new IT-based tools to support TQM in those areas which have not been sufficiently covered by adequate tools, specifically in the complex assembly area and flexible, small batches manufacturing with high model mixed production. The project addresses both product and process quality aspects in order to effectively support TQM concepts and the continuous improvement of product and processes in reference to ISO 9000 requirements, as well as the more strict norms of QS 9000 applied in the US car industry. Specifically, the objectives of the R&D activities in QUETA are to develop new approaches and tools for:
- Quality focused analysis of assembly aimed at identifying/predicting critical components/dimensions/characteristics by error propagation techniques and probability based component analysis.
- Error analysis of components, subassemblies and assembly in order to identify quality critical manufacturing and assembly processes, i.e. to identify the reasons for errors: the project is focusing on those areas where classical statistical approaches are not directly applicable (e.g. small batches manufacturing) and, therefore, innovative procedures/tools have to be developed, based on the identification of the common features of products to enable definition of quality critical processes (feature based sampling).
- Generation of cost effective action plans based on the identified criticality in order to ensure/improve quality (e.g. generation of quality checking plans, sampling QC, plans/suggestions for self control/inspection, quality related plans and control of production, decision support for process improvements etc.) in order to establish systems capable of ensuring the highest quality at minimum cost.

These tools should provide a number of feedback loops to different areas : design, production planning, manufacturing processes, assembly, management etc. The tools will support and force the transition from paper-based quality management (QM) systems to time and cost efficient IT-based systems guaranteeing a fast, holistic company-wide information exchange, contributing to the refinement of standardised structures addressing the integration of quality related and production data, as well as facilitating an effective data exchange with suppliers (i.e. supporting global information integration in the virtual enterprise).

Since the available generic IT support tools in the above listed problem areas are often difficult to adapt to the specific needs of users, a bottom-up approach in designing such tools is preferable. QUETA presents one of the first R&D projects on IT tools to support TQM concepts based on the requirements coming from the European automotive and aerospace industries. This approach will enable QUETA vendors to develop IT products which will effectively meet users' requirements and which will satisfy an existing gap in a large market in different industrial sectors. The applicability and quantitative assessment regarding the benefits of the integrated kernel of QUETA TQM tools will be tested in different manufacturing scenarios, where several demonstrators will be implemented (in the aerospace & automotive industries, and components and subassembly suppliers). Since the tools will be based on different state-of-the-art approaches such as statistical QM principles, the multivariable system analysis approach, knowledge-based systems (KBS), neural network (NN) approaches etc., the contribution of the R&D partners in QUETA is of key importance. All three groups of partners have elaborated detailed plans for exploitation of the QUETA results which include the effective dissemination and installation of the QUETA tools within the users' enterprises (and their suppliers) and realistic IT product objectives of the vendors.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Saab Ab
Saab Military Aircraft
58188 Linköping

Participants (7)

British Aerospace Airbus Ltd
United Kingdom
Filton House Filton
BS99 7AR Bristol
Compagnie Ibm France Sa
Tour Septentrion, Av. A. Prothin 20
92066 Paris-la-defense
Institute for Applied System Technology Bremen Gmbh
Wiener Str. 1
28359 Bremen
Mercedes Benz
Mercedesstrasse 136
70327 Stuttgart
Robert Bosch GmbH

70049 Stuttgart
University of Patras, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems
Rio, Patras
26110 Patras
Berliner Ring 2
38436 Wolfsburg