When manufacturing capability exceeds control capability: The paradox of high precision products, or is it possible to assemble functional products out of components we are unable to measure?
Sorting and mating is a very common practice in high precision manufacturing, as well in the watch industry, biomedical or automotive industry. This strategy helps to increase the assembly yield, but is costly and time-consuming. The question is, when is it necessary to apply sorting and mating, and when can it by avoided without loss in product quality? We furthermore show in this paper that the measurement precision is often lower than that of manufacturing. New and more precise manufacturing equipment and assembly devices allow for narrower distributions, and this raises many questions: is it possible to stop sorting? how can we be sure of the quality of the components and of the products? A case study at the company MPS AG, manufacturer of miniature ball bearings, illustrates this trend. We propose another manufacturing and assembly strategies, and show what the conditions are that are necessary to permit this approach.