ISO 9001 - verification of Tape Measures and Steel rules

Cats Clause

Starting to get Involved
#1
Hi all

Yet again, a certification body auditor has questioned how a client confirms that basic measuring equipment is fit for purpose and raised a minor NC as tapes and rules were designated as "check before use for wear and legibility." This is not a precision engineeering company but they do use, some steel rules and tapes. He suggested they adopt a policy of only purchasing class II rules AND tapes. Any thoughts on this?
Thanks!
 
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Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Leader
Admin
#4
Hello Cats Clause,

We have discussed verification of tape measures many times here.

It all comes down to what they are used for, and how that could affect your customer satisfaction/other goals. You have said "they do use, some steel rules and tapes" but you didn't say what they were measuring. What was it? What would happen if the tape measure was wrong?

1) I used to do sheet metal fabrication and used tape measures extensively. If the user does not slow the tape retraction when bringing the end tab back to base, the stress of the snap from this action can elongate the holes holding the rivets which affix that tab to the tape. As a result, an error of 1/64 to 1/32 may be possible. What is the tolerance for what these are used for? I once had a client that made 10-foot square, steel-framed structures for the oil and gas-fired energy companies. They used tape measures to confirm size and squareness, because if these items did not fit the result would be very bad.

2) I do woodworking as a hobby. I once bought a tape measure from some discount store bin, and found it measured a full 1/8 inch short per foot. Truly. I wish I kept it. The thing would have made a great prop for training exercises. Imagine what this error would have meant over a sizeable object.

My point is, tape measures can matter and the slogan "You get what you pay for" does appear to have merit.

Can you give us more information about what these tape measures are used for, and how you know they are "telling the truth"?
 

ChrisM

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
^
It's not just what the tape measures are used for, but what level of accuracy/tolerance you are checking with them.
You'd certainly need to have some form of basic accuracy check performed if they are uncalibrated but if for example you are using them to check if a bar of raw material is 6ft or 8ft long when delivered, the accuracy/calibration requirements would be much less stringent than if you were checking that a new building was, say, within 2 inches of being 20 feet long on one side
 

Dazzur

Starting to get Involved
#6
I'm also having the same issue some what.
I work in Steel Manufacturing firm that builds Agricultural and industrial fencing, We currently assign a unique number to every Tape Measure & Steel Rule, our Calibration Process denotes that these items are only subject to visual inspection, yet still require confirmation in our Calibration Register every 12 months with an accompanied document containing it's unique ID and confirmation that it/they have passed their visual inspection.

This is a pretty convoluted process especially considering there are over 450 employees/working bays that hold a Tape Measure, not only that, the Tape Measures themselves are cheap and break often, get lost or whatever, it takes up way too much time as there is only ME dealing with this. Just the act of aquiring a new Tape takes forever, Acquire the Tape...Email me asking for a Unique ID.. creating the Calibration Entry...awaiting for confirmation that they've engraved it...waiting for the old tape to be sent to us with the document.. It's just not working at all imo.

I've attempted to convince my Senior that this requirement should be removed, especially since Tapes account for 55% of the 650 items in our register and the fact their only subject to visual inspection it seems pointless having all of these logged with unique IDs, I just want them marked with 'CNR' (Calibration not required), I've tried to contact the manufacture for their tolerances to see if their tolerances are finer than ours to try and incorporate this some how.

does anyone have ay general advise, I know I need to find out specifically how we use them so I need to gather more info.
 

ChrisM

Quite Involved in Discussions
#7
One of the first steps is to specify who can perform the visual inspection. If it can be performed by the user, why would an Inspection Department be burdened with the task of performing the inspections and logging the results of these inspections? The onus would be on the user. What does the visual inspection consist of? A check for freedom from damage and that the first x inches hasn't been cut off or otherwise removed?

Who buys and distributes the tape measures? Do you have a nominated supplier and/or model number or will "any old tape measure" suffice?
 

Dazzur

Starting to get Involved
#8
One of the first steps is to specify who can perform the visual inspection. If it can be performed by the user, why would an Inspection Department be burdened with the task of performing the inspections and logging the results of these inspections? The onus would be on the user. What does the visual inspection consist of? A check for freedom from damage and that the first x inches hasn't been cut off or otherwise removed?

Who buys and distributes the tape measures? Do you have a nominated supplier and/or model number or will "any old tape measure" suffice?
Maybe I wasn't clear sorry, The visual inspection is completed by the user, in which a document containing the results of the visual inspection is then sent to Quality where we store it and update its entry in the Calibration Register to say it passed and complete again in 12 months. The users themselves don't have access to our databases so the Visual Inspection Documents are passed to their supervisor who then scans and emails them to us.

The Visual inspection itself is very thorough, as detailed in the Visual Inspection Document, this is for damage, wear, operation of the Tape, clear markings on the Tape for X amount of length (I'm sure it says the full length of the Tape).

Our Purchasing Department buys the Tapes and are then sent to our 'Stores.' The Stores then hold the stock and distribute them once they are contacted by an employee when a new Tape is required, I've seen a few types of Tapes at the moment, Rolson 5 Metre and Rolson 8m which generally seems to be what we use though their are other, older tapes in circulation from other brands.
 
Last edited:

Cats Clause

Starting to get Involved
#9
Hi all -great feedback so far thanks. So for this client:

Tapes. Only used for packing verification purposes. IE checking pallet sizes. For this purpose the accuracy of a class II tape (3.2mm error over 10m) is more than enough.

Rules. Used in QC lab to measure slump distance of a semi liquid product over time. Nothing high precision, an accuracy of +/- 0.5 mm would be more than enough.

I am happy that if they only use "good quality" steel engineers rule and similar (Class 2) tape are fine for both applications if they are visually monitored for wear and legibility before use. I do not want to ask the company to go down the route of getting a master Rule / Tape calibrated to national / international standards and then check the working equipment to these as they are an SME and in my view this is over the top for their needs. I am not aware of a "Class II rule" as auditor suggested - happy to be corrected!
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Leader
Admin
#10
Cats Clause,

Can you share with us the exact wording of the NC, including the clause it was written against? It is unfortunate that we cannot know just what tape measure was this auditor looking at when thinking up this nonconformity. Was it beat up, damaged, worn, torn, illegible etc.?

1) This NC might turn out to be be something you can dispute.
2) If it is a well-written NC (they too often are obscure - if it is obscure you might also be able to dispute based on that) it could help us better understand what approach is best.

I agree that your usage of tape measures does not justify a calibration program. But you might find it worthwhile to describe the basis for your "check before use for wear and legibility" decision (measurements the tape measures are used for do not affect product quality) and, if you want to keep that check before use direction, define for the users what that wear would mean.

As for Class II: I wouldn't know how to verify that by looking at a tape measure. I have an older Stanley that has no such marking, and Grainger's site makes no reference to class of this very common brand's accuracy class. With the exception of a comment by "ProductExpert" in the questions, the Home Depot site makes no mention of Class II either. The client I mentioned did not have such a purchasing plan for Class I/II/III tape measures, and in their case accuracy mattered enough to check against a verified steel rule monthly. So I would advise against making any mention of Class I/II/III in procedures and I find that auditor out of line by voicing such an idea.

I have no professional affiliation with Grainger, Stanley or Home Depot.
 
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