AutoTOL – Taking Data Entry out if CMM Programming – An example of a Quality 4.0 solution

Typing nominals into your CMM programs in the age if Quality 4.0 is like doing long division by hand when you could be using a calculator. For many CMM programmers data entry tasks like typing in nominals accounts for 2-20 hours out if every week. It takes up valuable time in your CMM software and no one I have ever talked to says they like the ‘data entry’ part of their job. The AutoTOL process, in most cases, eliminates the need for anyone to type a tolerance out manually. First, let’s reiview the current process and the waste associated with it.

Current process:
In most cases, the process involves CMM programmers being handed an inspection plan with nominals and tolerances that have been typed manually into a spreadsheet. To write the CMM program, the Programmers then type those tolerances in again! Manual data entry is done twice, when it doesn’t have to happen at all.

The potential for error:
According to the human error rate table, (yes, this is a real thing), that Dr. David J. Smith, writes in his 2005 Book ‘Reliability and Maintainability’, between misreading alphanumerical text and mistyping, there is a potential for error that is, on average, between 10-30 per 100 opportunities or in our case per tolerance value.

The time factor:

AutoTOL – a better process:
There are software tools (see video) that extract nominals and tolerances from 2-D prints and create excel based inspection plans and corresponding ballooned prints with a single click of a button. Technologies of this sort existed in the past, but the quality of GD&T extraction has developed to a point where it’s now an invaluable tool for reducing the time and error costs of manually creating inspection plans.  See video.



The next step is for the CMM companies to create software plugins to read the inspection plan data and eliminate the typing of nominals altogether. One of the most innovative players in the market has already done this (see story).  The rest will likely follow suite and have integration by late 2017 or early 2018.

Now that you’re aware that the tools are available, let’s revisit the waste in the current process with the below example:

Let’s say you have a 100 characteristic print:

For the inspection plan and report template:
You would type out 100 nominal values
Then type out 200 tolerance values (assuming there’s a plus and minus)

For the CMM program (assuming cad is used for nominals):
You would type out 200 tolerance values

We’re talking about a potential 500 values being typed by hand. This doesn’t need to happen. It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of qualified manufacturing professionals. Why are we having some of our most valuable people spend hours, even days every week performing menial data entry tasks?

To learn more about the Quality 4.0, AutoTOL movememt, visit and download the AutoTOL whitepaper.

About the author:

Brock LaHart has spent over 20 years working with manufacturers to modernize their manufacturing and quality processes.  MFG Next was founded to help move manufacturing processes forward, from the way it’s always been done to the way it can be done. Simpler. Faster. Better.

Contact MFG Next, Inc.  (734) 417-5799 or