Quality Control for CAD Managers

22 May, 2018 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: Your workplace may have nothing to do with cars, but processes used in automotive manufacturing plants can help your team produce higher-quality CAD work.


The Deming Cycle: Why Wait for Errors?

So far, everything we’ve talked about happens after some sort of error is made and discovered. But why should we wait for errors to occur before we improve our processes? Why not do whatever we can to make our processes more thorough — and less likely to generate errors — in the first place? To meet this challenge, we need another tool: the Deming Cycle of continuous improvement.

W. Edwards Deming, the father of modern quality control, famously remarked, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, then you don’t know what you are doing.” He then went on to postulate a cycle of continuous improvement that’s now known as the Deming Cycle. The cycle comprises four steps — Plan, Do, Check, and Act — that foster a culture of always striving to do things better. These steps are repeated in an ongoing cycle, as illustrated in the diagram below.

The Deming Cycle calls for ongoing repetition of the Plan–Do–Check–Act process. Diagram by Karn G. Bulsuk.

From a CAD point of view, we can break down the Deming Cycle as:

  1. Plan. Think about new ways you can better use CAD tools to accomplish all your design and documentation tasks, then standardize and train your staff according to the plan.
  2. Do. Use your plan to execute a project.
  3. Check. Analyze how your new plan performed in actual use; note anything that could have worked better.
  4. Act. Act on the findings of your study to create an even better plan for the next project.

As you repeat the Deming Cycle over and over again, quality can’t help but improve. If you aren’t familiar with Deming’s work, I encourage you to learn more about the power of continuous improvement; it’ll be time well spent. 

Summing Up

Now that you understand some of the tools available to you for making quality a higher priority, it’s time to start talking up the idea. Share this message with your boss, project managers, power users, and anyone else you can think of who is motivated to make CAD processes work better. In my experience, all you must do is get people talking about the concepts of better quality control, and let the topic evolve in a way that makes the most sense for your company.

As time goes by, you’ll see a culture of quality emerge that would have been impossible to accomplish by using standards alone. Try these concepts, and I promise you’ll wonder why you haven’t used quality control concepts before. Until next time.

Editor's note: Click here to read "Quality Control for CAD Managers, Part 2."

1 2 

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

Add comment


Re: Quality Control for CAD Managers
by: Hugh_T
May 29, 2018 - 5:26pm
The reality is we all make mistakes and we should not encourage the concept of "fear of messing up" or indeed embarrassment that someone has made a mistake. This type of cultural thinking in some measure isolates individuals and may lead to attempted cover up of mistakes instead of promoting positive resolution. Regarding your comment that very few engineers may not have a background of quality control theory many; in my experience in the AEC industry; they do have knowledge of quality control standards. Particularly those related to established standards like ISO 9001.