How do I implement GPS in my company?

The GPS language must be implemented in the company based on a management decision and GPS must be used and understood by everybody throughout the company (or within a particular product team), otherwise it will not work. This is why it is important that management is informed about GPS and understands why it is so important to make this strategic decision.

How is GPS to be used?

GPS should first and foremost be used for the critical tolerances and requirements in a drawing. These are the tolerances that primarily influence the function and the manufacturing cost of the part. It is less important that other requirements in a drawing are unambiguous.

A tool box

GPS is like a tool box: The designer can take only the tools that he needs and leave the rest alone. This allows the designer to learn the various specification tools of the GPS system as they become necessary for him, once he has the basic overview of what types of tools are available and how the overall GPS system works.

Start with a pilot project

GPS can only be used effectively after the relevant staff has been trained to use and interpret the symbol language. A pilot project covering the team responsible for a new product is a good way to start and to gain some experience. GPS should primarily be used for new drawings and new projects. Only the problematic ones amongst the old drawings should be considered for translation into GPS.

The decision to implement GPS in a company must be a strategic decision made by top management. The decision has to be very visible to the staff as a requirement to them. Resources have to be allocated because it takes time, but the results will quickly be visible!


The implementation of GPS cannot be done in pieces and one person or one department at a time. It is necessary once and for all to create a common “language” and a common understanding amongst all technical functions and staff within the company so they can communicate unambiguously with each other by using GPS.

It normally requires a total reprogramming or reeducation of all the technical staff within the company when the existing normal tolerancing level and the GPS tolerancing language scope and possibilities are taken into consideration. In short, it is necessary to start over.

It cannot be expected that people that come directly from the education system have a sufficient knowledge of the use of GPS. Most educational institutions have not yet added GPS to their programs and spend very few hours on tolerancing rules and symbols in the first place.

Two choices

There are two ways to conduct the GPS implementation process:

  • self-study for everybody or in a core group which then educates and informs the rest of the staff.
  • all staff participate in external seminars or seminars are set up internally in the company with external instructors that create the foundation, followed by "language" training with practical tolerancing examples in the form of completed part drawings and designs.

The first option is more theoretical than real. It requires too many resources and experience shows that there is a significant risk that major parts of the tolerancing rules will be misunderstood.

Internal seminars are a better solution that give the necessary foundation of common understanding for the implementation of GPS. This approach leads to the desired goal much faster and with a much higher probability of success than the selfstudy method.

Teaching GPS based on the company’s own drawings

Experience shows that there is a need for a concentrated basic GPS seminar of at least 25 - 30 hours of effective instruction time. It can consist of a review of the GPS’s Toolbox (the GPS system, the tolerancing rules and symbols) that takes up 75-80% of the instruction time and should be finished with a lot of examples of how to change the company’s own existing drawings from traditional tolerancing to GPS tolerancing. The use of the company’s own drawings as examples is necessary because the GPS tolerancing, much more than traditional tolerancing, requires a very detailed knowledge of the use and function of the part in the product.

Old problems become new solutions

As part of the seminars, gather the participants from the company in teams around a group of products/parts and the related problems that they know and work with every day. The participants in the teams should be combined from several functions within the company (design, production, sales, purchasing, quality, measurement, etc.). This way the participants will experience during the seminars how they can now communicate better with more details and less ambiguity by using GPS. The participants will also learn that they are able to solve part requirement problems in drawings that have not previously had a good and unique solution.

It is a good idea to invite key personnel from major suppliers to participate in the company’s seminars. This will motivate the supplier and facilitate later communication and cooperation to everyone’s benefit.

Getting to an operational level

The level that can be reached with such a basic GPS seminar is not especially high nor especially operative. It is certainly no “nerd level” that is reached after 25-30 hours of instruction. The level after this basic language class is just enough for an experienced designer to begin using GPS in simple part drawings for simple part functions.

The amount of material and the number of new things in GPS is simply too great. But after this seminar, the routine and the operational level is reached by systematically applying GPS.

The seminar described is appropriate for designers and leading personnel from other technical functions in the company. Operators from the production and measurement areas should be taught GPS in a more limited seminar.

The process is expanded

It is an advantage to establish a cross functional GPS group within the company. In the GPS group, the new tolerancing culture can then be developed after the basic seminar(s).

It is crucial that a common understanding is developed within the company of what the critical requirements for the parts are, because these are the requirements where GPS must be applied.

It is advantageous to have follow-up meetings after the basic seminar with participation of the external instructor.

This can take place when there is a need in the GPS group to clarify questions about details in new drawings that are created with GPS tolerancing. A more advanced discussion of the new drawings and the understanding of the more complex and more advanced GPS use can take place at these follow-up meetings.

The results become visible

As it turns out, the GPS group will also lead to the development of internal company standards based on the new knowledge. Company standards assist in collecting and documenting existing special tolerance knowledge and tolerance needs. Company standards also help in reducing the complexity of the individual drawing. Company standards are envisioned in the ISO-GPS system as a necessary supplement. International standards cannot and will not cover all possibilites and details.

It is common that a need for specialized advanced seminars for smaller groups arises, for example, seminars in surface finish specification and measurement, form specifications and measurements, datum and datum systems, estimation and use of measurement and specification uncertainty.

Going live

The last chance for informing all personnel, customers, and suppliers about GPS is when the first new GPS drawings go into production. Of course, it should ideally happen much earlier.

It is important that suppliers and personnel in the company’s own production departments realize that there are now different and new symbols and rules in the drawings and especially that the rules for proving conformance and nonconformance now are different from what they were and that it is now necessary to provide proof of the level of measurement uncertainty.

Putting up GPS posters throughout the company to support and inform about the new things that happen help in raising awareness. You might also want to send posters and information to suppliers.

Hand out GPS pocketbooks to all staff. You can also send a GPS pocketbook written in their own language to foreign customers and suppliers.

Do not make it harder than it has to be

When GPS is initially implemented in the company, stay away from “old” drawings. Leave them as they are. Start using GPS in a new product project. When experience with using GPS has been built up, then you can consider translating and updating “old” problem part drawings to GPS.

Always review old drawings from a GPS and specification/correlation uncertainty point of view before they are outsourced and sent to a supplier. Update to GPS as necessary.

Maintain an overview

When GPS is implemented, you should also implement a procedure for technical quality assurance of the tolerancing in the drawings. It is necessary to keep track of which and when GPS standards and GPS rules are implemented, both now and in the future, and which drawings and projects they apply to.

For most companies it is a new situation that the tolerance symbol language changes, develops, and improves all the time and therefore, has to be subject to quality assurance.