Implications of Quality Standards

What does this mean for engineers and test technicians? Test laboratories are, of neces­sity, quality environments because all the work performed is required to be traceable to a baseline of a known standard. For example, consider the following:

• Your test procedures are developed generally to a recognized industry standard and where the test results are required to have UKAS accreditation. Thus, a UKAS Accredited Test Procedure must be followed. This test procedure will be the same in any company wishing to offer that service to a customer seeking UKAS accredited results.

• Calibrated equipment must be used to reduce the risk of introducing faulty data and information into the test results through inaccurate measurements or physical activi­ties such as torque-down procedures.

• Documentation and records must be kept meticulously to record the stages and results of tests. These records provide traceability and are the basis of customer reports, and the documentation will vary, depending on the test. In meeting the client’s needs, the passage of information up and down the links within the test team is vital, and it begins for the technician with the test instructions. The technician must understand the client’s objectives for the test, how the engineer is proposing to achieve them, and the technician’s role in the project.

• Total preventive maintenance (TPM) procedures will prevent the introduction of faults into tests and will help to minimize the causes of unnecessary downtime. Downtime refers to periods when the test has been stopped or interrupted for unforeseen reasons (not adjustments or component changes written into the test procedures).

Downtime can cost companies at least $1,250 per day income, not to mention engi­neer and project inconvenience. Often, a five-minute task will prevent escalation into major causes of downtime.

That is the essence of total preventive maintenance.

• The training of technicians toward a high basic standard is required to service the needs of the test industry, which is operating regularly at or near the cutting edge of engine development.

Note that this training, combined with an enhanced interest in the developments within the industry, will provide the basis of a good technician/engineer.

• Work practices and fitting skills are required to be of the highest standard in a highly competitive industry. “Right first time” and forward thinking should be the absolute baseline for an engine test/build technician’s work.

• Witness reports frequently are generated by assessments conducted as part of the UKAS accreditation “rules” to continuously “monitor the competence of those technicians” who will carry out UKAS accredited test procedures.

Note that the assessments should be looking at key skill areas within the test procedures (i. e., component replacement skills), test control equipment operation and use, and underpinning knowledge of the test aims and outcomes. An awareness of the rating function will always add value to the technician’s engine testing knowledge.

Also worth noting at this stage is that it takes years of hard work to build a good reputa­tion; however, it takes only seconds to destroy it. This applies equally to companies, products, and individuals. There are huge pressures on the automotive engineer that underline the need for quality and calibration.

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