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Saving time and improving the value of data with Quality Monitor database lookups


Designers of NWA Quality Monitor® data collection screens often face a trade-off between collecting the descriptive information they need when performing analytics or presenting real-time dashboards and the desire to streamline the data collection process.  Too little descriptive information and you lose valuable context needed for analysis and reporting.  Too much and the data entry task becomes time-consuming and frustrating for staff.

Many of our Quality Information System customers are able to use QM's ability to look up information in databases to help resolve this conundrum.  QM can actually look up multiple items from multiple databases (not just from NWA Quality Information System™) from a single data collection form (Quality Monitor Database).

For example, consider this input screen:

The technician has nine fields to enter before collecting data.  The design could be configured to copy information from the previous sample if the process makes long runs of the same product or material, but there is still going to be a lot of key entry for information other than the measurement data.  If the data acquired directly from measurement devices then virtually all of the manual entry is for non-measurement information.  This is critical for later analysis and reporting but not much value to the operator.



However, suppose most of the descriptive information can be found associated with the Production Order in a database for an application such as an MES (Manufacturing Execution System).  QM can be configured to automatically look up this information when the user enters the production order, automatically filling out most of the description fields and letting the user focus on the measurement data and respond to any out-of-specification measurements or SPC violations.




Some customers have been fortunate enough that their process control system knows what production order is running on each line in real-time.  In this case, each QM test station can automatically query the process system database with their line number to get the production order, which is then used to look up the rest of the information from the MES.

Each of these queries is done via an ODBC (Open DataBase Connectivity) connection to the target database.  ODBC is an industry standard supported by all database providers used by manufacturing software such as MES, LIMS, and ERP systems.   QM can query external databases at different times during the data collection process, including when a new record is started, when an input field is first visited, or when changes are made in the data.

Would you like more information or do you have questions?  Please contact our technical support team:

NWA Quality Monitor:

NWA Quality Information System: