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Meeting in Maple Lake sets manufacturing standards

by Theresa Andrus

Maple Lakes Meeting

Gathered in Maple Lake at last week's ASME meeting were (front) John Rivers of Product Technologies Inc., Brett Lance of Tec Ease Inc., Jerry Smith of Caterpillar Inc., (back) Jerry Kaminski of Woodward Governor Company, David Jakstis of Boeing, Don Day of Tec Ease Inc., Maurice Meyer of General Motors Powertrain, Charles Husum of Boeing, Robert Hoyt of Le Sueur Incorporated and David Honsinger.

Decisions were being made in Maple Lake last week that will have an impact on manufacturing across the country and throughout the world.

Those decisions are the result of a meeting hosted by John Rivers of Product Technologies Inc. for an American Society of Mechanical Engineers committee which sets the standards for casted, forged and molded parts.

In attendance were industry experts from across the country representing such manufacturing giants as Boeing, General Motors and Caterpillar Inc.

"The ASME committee meets twice each year and is chaired by Don Day, a-former community college professor who is now a business owner in New York.

Day said the committee is the result of a voluntary national effort that was initiated when the lack of uniform manufacturing standards caused headaches for engineers.

The problem arose back in the '50s and '60s when large corporations were writing their own standards and the military had their own standard," Day said. "If you were a supplier making parts, the rules were different, depending on which drawing you were looking at."

Day said that now, the ASME committees not only fine-tune national manufacturing standards, but also work to address the changes that have occurred through advances in technology. "Technology is changing and we're demanding more and more from the parts we manufacture," Day said. "As we make more demands on our products to be of higher quality, we expect more out of the plants that produce the parts, so we have to do a better job of defining these parts," he said. As an example of that ever-improving quality, Day said the margin for variability between parts, or tolerance, used to be the thickness of a human hair, which is ;002 of an inch. "Now we're talking about tolerances at 20 millionths of an inch," Day said. "Customers' expectations are always increasing so products have to get better. And we're bringing in concepts that were never discussed in the past." One of those concepts is a universal language for engineering.

"It's a world economy now," Day said. "We're coming up with standards based on symbols that can be recognized no matter what your native language."

"We monitor international standards to be compatible and help guide those standards. It would be nice if there were one world standard. "But you eat an elephant one bite at a time."

Day said the experts on the ASME committees are all volunteers, with some companies footing the bill for their travel or others paying for expenses out of their own pockets.

"Any time you can take dirt - raw materials - and add value to it, it builds wealth," Day said. "What we're doing here is to improve the wealth-building of our nation.

"We all feel that we are doing something that is good for the nation."