It is widely considered that the effective use of quality control techniques is crucial to the survival of SMEs, with quality costs typically in the range 20% to 40% of gross revenue. However, the application of QC techniques in SMEs is no very common due to the complexity of the inspection procedures and the difficulty to satisfy a large number o requirements imposed by the international standards (ISO 9000 / EN 29000, QS 9000) that deal with the test and measurement system (calibration and maintenance of equipment, etc.). Another problem is that many SMEs rely heavily on a few key personnel. These persons can often be the only ones with the expertise and knowledge to be able to solv specific problems related to the inspection, measurement and test system (e.g. related to the calibration of th measurement equipment). Therefore the provision of a practical and innovative IT decision support system to provide a strategic framework fo effective problem solving will be of great benefit to the majority of manufacturing SMEs. The system will support SME to achieve Total Quality in measurement by providing:
help and guidance to the operator during the measurement process
support for the identification and correction of measurement problems e.g. due to insufficient calibration o maintenance of the measurement and testing equipment
assistance during the calibration and maintenance processes
support for the identification of quality problems. The system will be able to distinguish between quality problems an measurement errors; in case of quality problems CAPABLE will provide suggestions for the application of appropriat quality control techniques It is intended to encapsulate the required expertise and knowledge to effectively troubleshoot almost any problem whic the measurement and test system is likely to face. This will be achieved by building the knowledge into a decision tree a case-based reasoning (CBR) structured database. This knowledge will be derived from the relevant company personnel and manufacturing quality control experts The project will be thoroughly disseminated through interest groups, intermediary bodies, workshops and presentations i conferences. It will be exploited across Europe by the sale of software, training and consultancy to support those companies wishing to attain world class levels of quality and performance.