The term “Quality Control” can be defined as a system of controls which protect and preserve the quality of an article or process. The “Control” portion of this term assumes that there is a defined criterion in terms of performance, life expectancy and total cost for whatever the item or process is for which quality is desired and/or required.
Quality & Quality Control in Flow Measurement
In the field of flow measurement, basic quality as well as quality control play a key role in developing a high level of confidence in the application and use of whatever type of meter we are considering. For the purposes of this paper, we will stipulate that the designer of the meter has developed and fully tested a meter design whose tested performance is acceptable for the type of application(s), accuracy, life expectancy and reliability the meter was designed for. In other words, we have proven the concept, both from an engineering perspective and, more importantly, proof that is secured by independent testing of the meter with an understood and acceptable accuracy, repeatability and reliability outcome.
In order for us to commercially offer this meter, based on the statement of performance, which is based on the testing that we performed, we must develop a process whereby each new meter is built according to the same process that the test meter(s) were built in terms of manufacturing tolerances, surface quality, location and condition of features within the meter that determine its performance and other similar criteria.
Essentially, we need to “control” the quality of our manufacturing process so as to ensure that each new meter will perform in the same manner so we can guarantee the accuracy and reliability of each new meter.
It then follows that if we have a “quality control program”, it must be monitored and maintained in order for us to have confidence in the claims of performance made by its manufacturer. In order to ensure full compliance with all aspects of our quality control program as well as monitor the success and/or failure of that program whenever we deviate from it, we need an independent third-party auditor who regularly executes an objective analysis of the program, the processes and the results to ensure that the customer receives what was expected and paid for.
There are a number of quality control programs which include an annual third-party audit as well as offering a wide range of quality modules that apply to virtually every kind of product and service. ISO 9001 is one such resource and, by requiring the manufacturer to have and maintain an ISO 9001 quality certification, the user has the knowledge that the manufacturer has a formal quality program, and that program is regularly audited which allows for deviations to be found as well as processes to be changed and corrected.
Depending on the type of equipment, there are other quality certifications that not only ensure a high level of quality control – they also remove the need for the purchaser to become a quality control monitor by requiring the manufacturer to follow specific, written guidelines. These would include ASME S & U Codes which apply to many aspects of metal forming, metal machining and metal welding. If the flow meter has a welded component, citing a requirement that the manufacturer must have a valid ASME S & U code stamp takes the monitoring of the quality of that component out of the hands of the buyer and places it in the hands of an audited code enforcement resource.
Develop High Level of Confidence with an Audited Quality Control System
Requiring an audited quality control system in contract specifications is a significant step towards developing a high level of confidence in any flow metering project. Manufacturers that claim that “they have been in business for 100 years and that should answer the question about quality” are exposing themselves and their customers to an accuracy and reliability challenge particularly on municipal projects that are funded with tax dollars. Citing a requirement for ISO9001 and, in the case of welded components, ASME S & U certification, will help ensure a high-quality solution that provides the required accuracy, repeatability and reliability.
Learn more about Primary Flow Signal and the steps we take to instill a high level of confidence in our products and services we provide. Contact us today.