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Quality, QC Automation and Robotics Terms


Acceptable Instrument: A measurement method (instrument and process) with a P/T ratio between 10% and 30% may be considered acceptable. (see also P/T ratio)

Accuracy (comparative): Comparative accuracy is the variation of a part measurement when compared to a standard artifact where the artifact dimension is substantially the same as the part dimension being measured. This is reported as a +/- 3 σ value based on a significant sample size of measurements. (see also sigma σ )

Accuracy (full-scale): Full-scale measurement accuracy is the variation of a part measurement when compared to a standard artifact at any point in the instrument range of measurement. This is reported as a +/- 3σ value based on a significant sample size of measurements. The zero reference must be first established anywhere in the range of measurement. (see also sigma σ )

Artifact: A standard part with a precisely known dimension. An example of an artifact is a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technologies) traceable gage block.

Automation: The use of electromechanical systems and control software to accomplish a well-defined task or process. Automation can free human workers from repetitive tasks and remove operator variability from processes.


Calibration The comparison of values delivered by measurement device to those of a standard of higher known accuracy.

Caliper or Calipers: An instrument used to measure the distance between two features on an object, by touch, using a sliding mechanism with linear scale. The measurement techniques include inside, outside or depth. The linear scale may be a Vernier, mechanical dial, or digital readout with electronic display (digital caliper).

Capability: Process capability (Cpk) is defined as a statistical measure of the inherent process variability of a given characteristic. A process-capability study is used to assess the ability of a process to meet specifications.

Capable Instrument: A measurement method (instrument and process) with P/T Ratio of <10% is considered capable. (see also P/T ratio)

Cobot: Short form for the term “collaborative robot.”

Collaborative robot: A new class of industrial robot with integrated sensors and controls that limit speed and force, with few or no pinch points, and with the ability to work safely alongside people in existing factory environments. Safety barriers may not be needed. If a cobot bumps into anything, people or tooling, it slows and stops automatically.

Cobot grippers: End-of-arm tooling designed for use with collaborative robots to grip parts in order to pick up or manipulate them. Cobot grippers adhere to the same safety guidelines as cobots.

Comparative accuracy: see Accuracy (comparative)


Data logging: Recording measured data to a computer for record-keeping or analysis.

Digital calipers: see calipers

Dimensions: Distance between two points on an object, such as length, width, or diameter. Can be an outside dimension (e.g. outer diameter of a ring) or inside dimension (e.g. the diameter of a hole or bore through an object.


EOAT: Acronym for End of Arm Tooling, which is the tooling mounted to a robot wrist that touches a part being manipulated or processed. EOAT is also used to refer to a gripper or other robot tooling.


Fingers (or fingertips): The moving components on a gripper that touch the part. In many cases the gripper fingers or fingertips are modular and easily exchanged to perform a specific function or process, such as measuring the dimensions of specific part features.

Flexible manufacturing: Also called Agile Manufacturing or Agile Automation. A production method designed to easily adapt to changes in the type and quantity of the product being manufactured. Machines and computerized systems can be quickly re-configured to manufacture a variety of parts and handle changing levels of production.

Firmware: Software in smart products that operates in embedded microprocessors, providing on-board functionality and decision-making without the need for an external computer or human intervention.



Gauge Repeatability and Reproducibility (Gauge R&R): A methodology used to define the capability of the measurement system. Alternatively spelled Gage R&R. (see also capability)

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T): A system for defining and communicating engineering tolerances on  controlled features of a part. It is used to define the nominal geometry of parts, the allowable variation in form and size of individual features, and the allowable variation between features.

Golden part: A reference sample (also called a control sample) of the production part, with all important dimensions measured using multiple gauges. The golden part is used to determine system changes and help establish an appropriate calibration frequency.

Gripper: The physical tooling between a robot and the part that is being manipulated. (See also EOAT)

Gripper/Caliper: A robot gripper that includes onboard position sensor feedback and embedded intelligence, allowing it to function as both a gripper to pick parts, and a robotic caliper to measure them.


Measurement nest: A centrally-located fixture designed to center and align a part during the measurement inspection process. A properly designed measurement nest is customized for each part, or family of similar parts, and minimizes measurement variations due to gravity, grip location, and dynamic motion.

Measuring: The physical act of ascertaining the dimensions of a specific feature of a component using a tool or instrument such as a micrometer, caliper, gauge, laser scanner, coordinate measuring machine (CMM), machine vision camera, etc.

Metrology: The science behind the physics of measurement.

Micrometer: (a) mai-krom-i-ter – A device incorporating a calibrated screw and rotational scale, used to measure dimensions of components by touching. Also called a micrometer screw gage. (b) mai-kroh-mee-ter – A unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter, abbreviated μm.

Micron: Short for micrometer, a unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter or 0.04 thousandths of an inch.

MTM: Abbreviation for Multi-Tool Mount, from New Scale Robotics, used to describe the first multi-tool mounting system for the small-sized collaborative robots from Universal Robots.


NSR: Abbreviation for New Scale Robotics, the company that manufacturers Q-Span™ Systems, a software and hardware system for automated measurement inspection using collaborative robots. New Scale Robotics is a division of New Scale Technologies (NST), based in Rochester, NY USA.


Pick and place: The act of using a robot to move a part from one place to another; a common robotic application usually referring to material handling.

Precision: The deviation of a measured value to a standard or known value. Depending on the context, this general term may sometimes refer to an instrument’s resolution, repeatability or accuracy. For Gage R&R evaluations, Precision (P) refers to the instrument repeatability.

P/T Ratio: The ratio of the precision (P) of a measurement system to the total tolerance (T) of the process it is part of. A low P/T ratio indicates that variation of the measurement system will have a small impact on product quality.


QA: Abbreviation for Quality Assurance; the part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.

QC: Abbreviation for Quality Control; the act of measuring or inspecting a component or system to verify that it meets the requirements for quality.

Q-Span™ Systems: An innovative product line from New Scale Robotics, designed to easily automate small-part measurement for quality assurance in small-batch, high-mix manufacturing. Q-Span Workstations use a collaborative robot and automate manual digital caliper inspection and data collection. Q-Span is a trademark of New Scale Technologies.

Quality: A measure of excellence or a state of being free from defects, deficiencies and significant variations.


Repeatability: The variation of a part measurement when the same part is measured many times using the same instrument and method to create a significant sample size. This value is reported as +/- 3σ. (see sigma σ).

Resolution: The minimum increment that can be measured and reported by the instrument.

Robotic Caliper: A digital caliper designed to operate as end of arm tooling with robots or collaborative robots. (see caliper)


Sigma (σ): One standard deviation. A number used to indicate how measurements for a group are spread out from the average (mean), or expected value.

Smart Grippers: Robot grippers with onboard sensor feedback, drive electronics, embedded intelligence and closed-loop control. For example, the NSR-PG gripper for Universal Robots.

SPC: Abbreviation for statistical process control. SPC employs statistical methods to monitor and control a process; most often used in manufacturing.


Thou: Short for “thousandths of an inch.”

Traceability: The ability to trace something to its origins. In manufacturing this can mean tracing part history through its process history and supply chain to raw materials. In Metrology this means linking a measurement method to certified calibration standards and ultimately to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) masters.

U – Z

UR: Abbreviation for Universal Robots, a leading manufacturer of collaborative robots. Based in Odense, Denmark, UR is a subsidiary of Teradyne.

Zero Reference: Setting a zero reference is a technique used to calibrate a measurement tool by measuring a part with a known standard dimension, comparing the measured dimension to the known dimension, and adding or subtracting units of measure to “zero” the tool. This may also be referred to as “zero offset.”

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