Introduction to MSA – Level 2

Everyday our lives are being impacted by more and more data. We have become a data driven society. In business and industry, we are using data in more ways than ever before.  Today manufacturing companies gather massive amounts of information through measurement and inspection. When this measurement data is being used to make decisions regarding the process and the business in general it is vital that the data is accurate. If there are errors in our measurement system, we will be making decisions based on incorrect data. We could be making incorrect decisions or producing non-conforming parts. A properly planned and executed Measurement System Analysis (MSA) can help build a strong foundation for any data based decision making process.

What is MSA?

MSA is defined as an experimental and mathematical method of determining the amount of variation that exists within a measurement process. Variation in the measurement process can directly contribute to our overall process variability. MSA is used to certify the measurement system for use by evaluating the system’s accuracy, precision and stability.

Why perform MSA?

An effective MSA process can help assure that the data being collected is accurate and the system of collecting the data is appropriate to the process. Good reliable data can prevent wasted time, labour and scrap in a manufacturing process. A major manufacturing company began receiving calls from several of their customers reporting non-compliant materials received at their facilities sites. The parts were not properly snapping together to form an even surface or would not lock in place. The process was audited and found that the parts were being produced out of spec. The operator was following the inspection plan and using the assigned gages for the inspection. The problem was that the gage did not have adequate resolution to detect the non-conforming parts.  An ineffective measurement system can allow bad parts to be accepted and good parts to be rejected, resulting in dissatisfied customers and excessive scrap. MSA could have prevented the problem and assured that accurate useful data was being collected.

What is a measurable system?

Before we dive further into MSA, we should review the definition of a measurement system and some of the common sources of variation. A measurement system has been described as a system of related measures that enables the quantification of characteristics. It can also include a collection of gages, fixtures, software and personnel required to validate a unit of measure or assess the feature or characteristic being measured. The sources of variation in a measurement process can include the following:Process – test method, specification

  • Process – test method, specification
  • Personnel – the operators, their skill level, training, etc.
  • Tools / Equipment – gages, fixtures, test equipment used and their associated calibration systems
  • Items to be measured – the part or material samples measured, the sampling plan, etc.
  • Environmental factors – temperature, humidity, etc.

These possible sources of variation should be considered during Measurement System Analysis. Evaluation of a measurement system should include the use of specific quality tools to identify the most likely source of variation. Most MSA activities examine two primary sources of variation, the parts and the measurement of those parts. The sum of these two values represents the total variation in a measurement system.

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