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Dimensional management: why is it so important?

Christopher Ajiduah writes on the importance of this concept at the system engineering design phase.

It is surprising that the concept of ‘dimensional management’ is yet to be a necessary requirement of everyone involved in manufacturing. Astute observers tell us that dimensional management is the missing link between research, development, design and the finished product the end-user holds in his/her hands. The inability of the educators in engineering to accord dimensional management its role as a respected science has resulted (and this is still the case) in billions of dollars being flushed down the drain.

The other side of the story is that the end-users are brain-washed into buying products designed and produced for the scrap heap when dimensional management is not taken into consideration.

I was privileged to have taught a machine design class and I was not afraid to tell the students that no matter the novelty of their designs or the sophisticated materials they use, it is a waste of resources if the dimensional management action is not properly done.

I hope that the day will come when dimensional management is treated as an integral part of system engineering (at the design phase of every project). We all know that you do not machine a part without deformations, vibrations, three-dimensional thermal expansion, and other changes to the material or part in question and the same goes for other manufacturing processes.

It matters not if the shaft or hole is our reference, and what other datum levels we use. What matters is that we need to do the dimensional management in the light of the function of the components and the processes the materials will be subjected to. The dimensional analysis provided by the component designer is usually not adequate unless the big picture is taken into consideration.

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