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During the design and construction of a distributed measurement system, design engineers face many basic questions. How does one properly choose a structure and actual solutions for the key elements of the system? Which elements are important? How does one guarantee a suitable level of operating quality and reliability? A broad knowledge base and technical experience are necessary to answer these questions. The consumer's expectations for the product need to be met. The designer's subjectivity should be minimized. In this column, we discuss the use of two tools, the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) method which comes from quality engineering rules and the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) which comes from operations research. Implementing QFD during the design process can focus the attention of the designer on the most important elements of reliability and work quality. The AHP method helps the engineer make complex decisions in designing today's measurement systems that have many extreme optimization problems. Using these methods should decrease the cost of manufacturing and maintenance of measuring systems. We explain these methods and then show how they work in designing a distributed system for a mobile measurement station (MMS).
Date of Publication: February 2010