Do I need GPS?

If you design and manufacture all your components in-house and you never have misunderstandings between design, manufacturing and quality that you cannot resolve by a quick meeting and a verbal agreement, then you do not need GPS.

If all your suppliers are local and they know your product so well that they know how each component works and can manufacture them almost without any drawing at all, then you do not need GPS.

But if your design and manufacturing are separated geographically, or you want to be able to source your components from suppliers that do not know your products and your business well, or even from other countries, then you need GPS to communicate the functional requirements to your components.

If you are not worried about keeping your drawings as a data bank and a repository for your company's knowledge of what it takes to make your products function, then you do not need GPS.

If you never have a problem with a supplier delivering components that do not work, although they meet the requirements in the drawing, then you do not need GPS.

But if you receive components that do not work in spite of them meeting the drawing requirements, then you need GPS.

If you can show that whenever a supplier misunderstands your drawings, it is the supplier's fault because he does not understand the standard drawing indications, then you do not need GPS, although your supplier could use some training.

But if your supplier misunderstand your drawings because they are not following standards, or there are requirements that are not unambiguously indicated, or there are grammatical errors in your tolerancing, then you need GPS.

If you are a supplier and the only times you have trouble understanding a drawing is when your customer does not follow standards and proper grammar for tolerancing, then you do not need GPS.

But if you are a supplier and you have trouble understanding drawings, as soon as they move beyond +/- tolerancing, and your customer has started using geometrical tolerancing, then you need GPS.

What will GPS do for me?

There are several important pieces to what I call systematic GPS.

GPS itself is the symbol language used to express requirements to the geometry of components in technical drawings.

GPS is the latest tolerancing language. It enables designers to express requirements to component geometry that remain unambiguous even when the components have significant angular and geometrical deviations compared to the overall tolerances.

Systematic GPS is a structured method for applying GPS tolerancing to drawings. The standards that define GPS are the dictionary and grammar guide for the language. They are necessary for the unambiguous interpretation of a drawing, but they do not guide designers to convey a clear message with their drawings.

Systematic GPS is the creative writing guide that helps designers structure the "story" they are telling with their drawing. It provides the designer with a framework to tell the story of the component.

Systematic GPS drawings can be decoded and understood using a uniform, simple, and consistent logic by manufacturing engineers, suppliers and other readers of the drawings.

The savings and improvements reported by companies using systematic GPS include:

  • 15-20% overall product cost savings.
  • Reduced time to market
    • Fewer design iterations needed to get the product right
    • Less discussion of drawing interpretation
    • Less trial and error to make the specification work
    • Reduced production set-up time
  • Higher outsourcing success rate
  • Looser tolerances leading to lower cost
  • Products that function because of the tolerancing rather than in spite of it.
  • Better communication
  • Designers focusing on innovation instead of explaining their drawings.
  • Functional requirements recorded for the future

The systematic GPS solution has three fundamental elements.

Isolate functional requirements

The functional requirements shall be captured separately in a master specification. Other drawings, such as manufacturing drawings and measuring instructions are derived from this master specification.

Use a consistent tolerancing procedure

The functional requirements shall be applied to the master specification using a consistent tolerancing procedure. This procedure shall ensure that requirements are applied in a logical sequence that reflects how each component interacts in the product.

Define the standards base

All drawings shall be based on the same set of standards. This minimizes confusion and misinterpretation of drawings by manufacturing, metrology and suppliers.

How do I start?

All successful implementations of systematic GPS have a number of elements in common.

The first is a commitment to change. Recognizing the potential for substantial improvement in product quality, innovation, manufacturing, supplier flexibility and ultimately the bottom line is the motivation behind this commitment at all levels in the organization.

The second is a core group of champions who own the implementation project internally. This group leads and guides the implementation, review designs as the organization gets used to the systematic GPS approach and train shop floor and other personnel who will read the systematic GPS drawings.

The third is the use of outside resources to ensure that the implementation remains true to the stated principles. This includes consulting, mentoring, instruction and workshop leadership.

Successful implementations typically start with a pilot project involving one product or one product family. This allows the organization to gain experience and develop the necessary policies, procedures, support tools and training infrastructure to streamline the process of propagating the implementation to all product families.

Henrik S. Nielsen