Tool quality measuring process

Process Quality Engineer

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The idea of a production assembly line began in the automotive industry when Henry Ford first designed the assembly line process geared towards the mass production of the automobile. His innovation streamlined the total assembly time required from twelve hours down to 2.5 hours and helped to revolutionize the automobile industry by opening up the market to the everyday consumer by reducing the assembly cost of the automobile significantly with the reduction in the time and specialized labor required to assemble one. The assembly line process continued to evolve and spread to other industries and as it spread, so did the specialized equipment, tooling and procedures that are employed to optimize the assembly of an automobile and give birth to an entire branch of engineering dedicated to engineering the assembly process and maintaining high quality levels.

Life as a Process Quality Engineer

The process quality engineering role encompasses the entire product development life cycle from the initial design phases where they consult on the manufacturability of the design to the final assembly process and support of production. In the initial phases of the product design, even in the specification stages, the process quality engineer will be involved looking out for potential manufacturing issues. As the product design evolves and the production process is developed they will be intimately involved in each prototype build reviewing the quality levels and determining where improvements can be made and processes improved. The process quality engineer will lead the team through a Process Failure Modes Effect Analysis (PFMEA) and then coordinate the improvements to either the design or the process to eliminate high-risk areas prior to the start of production. When there is a customized design or an issue with a particular fit, the process quality engineer will be involved in the development process and will assist in the design of custom tooling to aid the assembly process and reduce the chances that a product will be damaged during manufacturing.

The role of the process quality engineer continues into the production stages of a product as well. They will constantly monitor quality data using statistical process control processes to look for any points in the assembly process where the process could be trending out of specification. Using the control charts and pareto charts they will identify any quality issues and put fixes in place to reduce waste and scrap due to poor quality products. When a problem is identified the process quality engineer will utilize problem solving methodology to identify root cause and put a fix in place to improve the production process and prevent future quality issues.

Educational Requirements for a Process Quality Engineer

To begin a career as a process quality engineer you will want to earn a degree in engineering geared towards the type of manufacturing you are most interested in. For example, if you will be working in an automotive field where there are mechanical parts either moving or structural then a mechanical engineering degree would be ideal. If you are working in an electrical components manufacturing environment then a degree in electrical engineering would serve well and help give you experience in those product types to assist in assessing quality issues and conducting a root cause analysis. Many process quality engineers do not begin their careers in this position but instead work in other areas such as design, tooling or manufacturing engineering to gain the experience needed to work in overall process quality. Once you have settled on a degree path the requirements to enter a degree program are very similar including a strong foundation in math, science, physics and chemistry.

No matter what specialty you choose the role of the process quality engineer is critical to the production process to ensure that only robust manufacturing processes are put in place that will produce high quality products to ship to the customer.

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