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Comparison between the MSA manual and VDA Volume 5

What Are the Differences?

MSA is short for Measurement Systems Analysis. This document was first published by the
Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) in 1990. A comparison between the original MSA document
and the recently published VDA Volume 5 Capability of Measurement Processes shows: The
difference is in the details.
Over the years, many company guidelines have been created based on the MSA manual whose 4th
edition is available by now. These guidelines are often also referred to as MSA, but their contents
differ from the original. Ford, GM, Mercedes, Bosch, etc. created some most relevant company
guidelines of the automotive industry and, within these automotive groups, these guidelines are valid
worldwide. However, they contain some issues showing major differences from the contents of the
MSA manual created by the AIAG.
All of the company guidelines mentioned above firstly evaluate the measuring system by means of
the and values. In general, these values have to be greater than 1,33. For this purpose, a
calibrated reference part with a known nominal quantity value is measured about 20 to 25 times.
The resulting standard deviation and the difference between the mean x g and the nominal
quantity value of the reference part help to calculate and . In company guidelines, the
tolerance of the characteristic to be measured always serves as a reference value. By contrast, the
MSA manual does not use any or values and rather uses the variation of the parts inspected
as a reference value. The tolerance is also mentioned as possible reference value but it is only one
out of four options in addition to the variation of the process and the preliminary process capability
By comparing VDA Volume 5 to the MSA manual, the statistical values of the company guidelines are
also considered. VDA Volume 5 is based on the ISO/WD 22514-7 Measurement Process Capability
standard that is yet to be published in 2011. It can be assumed that the capability of measurement
processes will have to be based on this standard in audits according to DIN EN ISO 9001 in the future,
even outside the automotive industry.
In the beginning was a definition
Even when it comes to terms and definitions, the MSA manual has set standards for lack of
international standardization. The first edition of the International vocabulary of metrology (VIM)
was already published in 1989, but only the edition released in 1994 defined terms like measuring
system, measurement process and measurement uncertainty. Even the Guide to the expression of
uncertainty in measurement (GUM) was not published until 1995. Indeed, the MSA manual used
some of the terms of the international standardization in its last four editions, but it kept basic terms
due to their wide usage, which is quite comprehensible.
A typical example is the term measuring system. Figure 1 shows that the term measuring system
according to the MSA manual does not comply with the definition of the VIM. A measuring system
according to the MSA manual corresponds to a measurement process as defined by the VIM.
However, the VIM also contains the term measuring system. As per VIM, a measuring system is a
subordinate element of a measurement process combining the typical influence components that

can be mainly affected by the manufacturers of the measuring instrument. These two separate
evaluations of the measuring system and the measurement process are also contained in company
guidelines by calculating the and the values. If they fall below the required limit of 1,33, it is
very likely that the measuring instrument will not be suitable in practice (e.g. in production) when all
the existing influence components are included. This differentiation has proved to be most
reasonable in practice.
Influence Factors


%RE 5% TOL

Uncertainty of a reference


U 5% TOL

Repeatability of a reference

to be small

Cg 1,33


Cgk 1,33



Repeatability on an object
Reproducibility of an object
Uncertainty object

Repeat measurements at the
same position
Quality Control Chart

%RE 5% and

Measurement System
Measurement Process

ndc 5

Measuement System

Resolution / Data Category

VDA 5 or ISO/CD 22514-7

uCAL =

uRE =

Source of Information

2 3


Calibration Certificate

uEVR = s
uBI =

Gage Display

Type-1 study (T1)

x - xm

Type-1 study (T1)

{ }

uLIN = max uBi i

T1 on 3 masters


Type-2 or type-3 study


Type-2 or type-3 study

uOBJ =
uT =







/Quality Control Chart

Where a is from:
similar measuring
long term observations

*) No precise details or is not considered for %GRR.

Figure 1: Influence factors

The procedure used in order to evaluate the applied measuring system or measurement process is
basically very similar in the MSA manual, the company guidelines and VDA Volume 5. All inspections
are conducted under real conditions, measured quantity values are analyzed graphically and
numerically, statistical values are calculated and then compared to specified limits. This evaluation
decides on the capability of the measuring system or measurement process. The MSA manual and
VDA Volume 5 mainly differ in the calculation of statistical values and in the number of observed
influence quantities that (might) affect the measurement.


%GRR =

VDA 5 or ISO/CD 22514-7

EV 2 + AV 2


where RF = total variation TV,

process variation ,
Pp, Ppk or
tolerance TOL
used mainly in company
%GRR 10% capable

Limit values

10 < %GRR < 30

partly capable

30 %GRR

not capable





where TOL = tolerance


UMS bzw. UMP = 2



i = 1, 2, 3, ...

ui Standard uncertainty of the

i-th influence factor
Measurement result y = x UMP
%QMP 30% capable



Gage variation





Incorrect decisions may be caused by

measurement values near the specification limits
(U or L).

Measurement result y must lie within the tolerance TOL (s.

DIN EN ISO 14253.

Figure 2: GRR-value versus Expanded Measurement Uncertainty Ump

Evaluation according to the MSA manual
The MSA manual assesses capability by comparing the calculated Gage Repeatability &
Reproducibility value (%GR&R, Figure 2) to the specified limit. Prior to its calculation, the MSA
manual only observes whether the systematic measurement error (or the linearity, if available) is
sufficiently small. Moreover, the number of data categories ndc is evaluated. The number must be
greater than 5. This requirement is similar in its purpose compared to the company guidelines and
VDA Volume 5 where the resolution must be lower than 5 % of the specification (see resolution). If
the %GR&R value exceeds the specified limit, the value itself will not indicate why the limit is
violated. In order to find the reason for this exceeding, intermediate results must be consulted and, if
necessary, further inspections are needed. This is a major disadvantage of the evaluation in
accordance with the MSA manual.

Evaluation according to VDA Volume 5

VDA Volume 5 evaluates each component of the measurement process affecting the measurement
uncertainty separately. The standard uncertainty is calculated for each influence component. This
uncertainty provides the basis for the calculation of the expanded measurement uncertainty and the
capability ratios of the measuring system and the measurement process. Analogous to the statistical
values and used in company guidelines, the measuring system can also be evaluated
individually. The single influence components are (Figure 1):

According to company guidelines and VDA Volume 5, the first step is to evaluate whether the
resolution is lower than 5 % of the specification corresponding to the characteristic to be
tested. If the resolution does not meet this requirement, no further inspection will be
conducted because the measuring instrument would not reflect reality sufficiently. However,
even if the 5 % requirement is met, the measuring instrument might always display the same
measured quantity value in repeated measurements. In this case, VDA Volume 5 applies the
standard uncertainty from the resolution of the measuring instrument .
Uncertainty from reference parts
The MSA manual hardly contains anything about this problem. Some company guidelines
indicate that the uncertainty from the reference part (measurement standard, calibrated
working measurement standard, etc.) must be lower than 5 % of the specification. VDA
Volume 5 considers this uncertainty explicitly in calculating the expanded measurement
uncertainty. This is particularly reasonable for the acceptance of measuring systems because
the used working measurement standards often show a high uncertainty. If the measuring
points slightly differ in repeated measurements, the variation becomes higher. However, this
rise is not caused by the measuring instrument. Without considering the uncertainty of the
measurement standard, a higher variation always leads to discussions between the customer
and the manufacturer of the measuring instrument. This can be avoided by evaluating the
uncertainty of the reference part individually.
Repeatability and systematic measurement error
In order to evaluate these uncertainty components, repeated measurements are taken on a
calibrated reference part with a known nominal dimension. Then the measured quantity
values are evaluated.
The MSA manual demands a low variation (i.e. standard deviation). However, how low?
There is not any specific information available. A t test is conducted regarding the systematic
measurement error. If zero lies beyond the calculated confidence interval of 95 %, the
systematic measurement error is too high.
Company guidelines calculate the and values (see above) from the measured quantity
values. If both values exceed 1,33, the measuring system is regarded as capable or the
variation and the systematic measurement error are considered adequate.
VDA Volume 5 determines the respective standard uncertainties and for both
influence components separately. Including the other influence components (resolution and
uncertainty from reference part), the expanded measurement uncertainty of the measuring
system and the capability ratio are calculated (Figure 2). The capability is then
compared to the recommended limit of 15 %. If the ratio meets the requirement, the
capability of the measuring system is established.
Repeatability on test part and reproducibility of operators
In order to evaluate the repeatability and reproducibility, three operators take two repeated
measurements on ten test parts that are evenly spread over the entire specification zone
(other combinations are possible). The resulting measured quantity values are evaluated. The
MSA manual, most of the company guidelines and VDA Volume 5 use the method of ANOVA
(Analysis of Variance) for this purpose and determine the variation components EV
(equipment variation) and AV (appraiser variation). According to the MSA manual and
company guidelines, these components provide the basis for calculating the %GR&R value.

VDA Volume 5 classifies those two components separately as the standard uncertainties
and .
Form deviation of test part
Analogous to the uncertainty from the reference part (measurement standard or working
measurement standard), the form deviation may have a major impact on the uncertainty of
the measurement process. This evaluation is very important. The 1st and the 2nd edition of
the MSA manual recommended measuring each test part in three different places of
measurement in order to evaluate these influences. However, the 3rd and 4th edition do not
refer to this issue anymore. There is a huge effort required, of course. In order to avoid this
effort, the MSA manual and company guidelines propose to take all the repeated
measurements at the same place of measurement. This is often not feasible in practice
(typical example: automated measurement processes). VDA Volume 5 evaluates the form
deviation based on the standard uncertainty component , which may be determined by
means of several different calculation methods.
Neither the MSA manual nor company guidelines deal with the subject of uncertainty from
temperature to the full extent. Both, manual and guidelines, assume a constant temperature
of the test part, measuring system and the environment. VDA Volume 5 evaluates the
influences from temperature by means of the standard uncertainty . The document
offers several calculation methods.
The evaluation of a measuring system or measurement process at a certain time forms the
basis for the decision whether its capability can be established or not. However, the question
is if this condition of the measuring system or the measurement process stays the same for
the entire period of application. Does the measuring system or the measurement process
remain capable or does it change significantly? In order to monitor its condition, repeated
measurements shall be taken on a calibrated reference part at regular intervals. The results
are documented in a quality control chart. If the new results violate the specified action
limits, the capability of the measuring system or measurement process must be re-evaluated.
This procedure is recommended in the same way by all documents.
Expanded measurement uncertainty and capability ratio
Only VDA Volume 5 uses these statistical values. Both, the expanded measurement
uncertainty of the measurement process and the capability ratio , are calculated
from all standard uncertainty components that were determined before (Figure 2). A
measurement process requires a capability ratio lower than 30 %. If the capability ratio
meets this requirement, the capability of the measurement process is established.

Which system is the best?

The advantages of the MSA manual are its high international recognition and the versatile application
of the procedures it describes. The detailed observation of the influence components affecting the
measurement process and their impacts on the expanded measurement uncertainty argue for VDA
Volume 5. In addition, this document is based on an ISO standard, which might lead to a greater
recognition of this approach. Time will tell which procedure will become more important in the

History of the Evaluation of Measurement Procedures

The first edition of the MSA manual was published in 1990. No more than 13 years later, the VDA
Volume 5 was released. Almost at the same time, the 4th edition of the MSA manual and the 2nd
edition of the VDA Volume 5 were published in 2010. The very fact that the MSA manual has been
available for more than 20 years and that only now the first international standards about this topic
are created shows that the MSA manual has been the ultimate benchmark for decades. Since 1995,
with the automotive industry pushing the issue, all suppliers have had to be certified according to the
QS-9000 standard (corresponds to ISO/TS 16949 today). This is why the MSA manual gained
recognition in the 1990s. The certification requires capability analyses for the applied measuring
systems. How to make these evaluations and which limits shall be used, the MSA manual tells. Both,
the QS-9000 and the ISO/TS 16949 standard, refer to this manual for further details.
In the past, the German automotive groups demanded a certification according to VDA 6.x
(corresponds to ISO/TS 16949 today) from their suppliers. This volume says that suitable procedures
must be used in order to evaluate the applied measurement procedures. Since the VDA Volume 5
was not published until 2003, company guidelines based on the MSA manual had been consulted
about this kind of inspection before. As of 2003, many suppliers had to make capability analyses
according to the MSA manual and the VDA Volume 5 because the German automotive groups
included VDA Volume 5 in their customer-supplier rating as another applicable document.

A.I.A.G. Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp.: Measurement Systems
Analysis, Reference Manual, 4th edition, Michigan, USA, 2010
DIN ISO/IEC Guide 99:2007: International vocabulary of metrology (VIM). Beuth Verlag,
Berlin, 2010
ISO/WD 22514-7: Capability and performance Part 7: Capability of Measurement
Processes. Geneva, 2008
VDA Volume 5 Capability of Measurement Processes. 2nd edition, VDA, Berlin 2010
ISO/TS 16949:2009-06 Vornorm: Qualittsmanagementsysteme - Besondere Anforderungen
bei Anwendungen von ISO 9001:2008 fr die Serien- und Ersatzteil-Produktion in der
Automobilindustrie. Beuth Verlag, Berlin, 2009
ISO/IEC Guide 98-3 (2008): Guide to the expression of uncertainty in measurement
(GUM:1995). International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, 2008
Neukirch, C.; Dietrich, E.: Measuring System and Measurement Process Are Two Different
Things. QZ 4 (2011) 56, S. 16-20
Dietrich, E.: MSA Whats new? QZ 1 (2011) 56, S. 39-41

Dr.-Ing. Edgar Dietrich, born in 1951, author of numerous specialist books about statistics and test
procedures. CEO of the Q-DAS GmbH, Weinheim, since 1990.