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Project Proposal

Title:
A computer-based quality assurance system for Rheologic Industries.

Project Abstract/Project Summary:

The project abstract should present a concise summary of the project. It should be no longer than a
page and include the need for the project and the population it will serve, a brief description of the project
and its goals and objectives,. Finally, mention how the project will be evaluated to measure the success of
the project.

Introduction:
Rheologic Industries (RI) is a small company, based in Walsall that produces specialist components for the
motor trade. They have arranged long-term contracts which require them to provide a quality control
statement with every batch of components. Previously they only undertook measurements from a more
general sampling, which meant that the results were not available for dispatch the same day as the
calculations were performed manually.
They have recently taken delivery of a new tensile testing machine (the Batmole X91W) which can
interface directly to a computer. They wish to have a system built that can utilise the features of this new
device.
This project is of interest to me since my brother works in the QA department of this company. Additionally
it will enable me to use the skills I have developed in database and programming modules; topics from the
RAD module will also be useful in helping complete this project. I may also require some skills in HCI and
this matches up with the final year modules I am likely to choose.

Aims and Objectives:


This project aims to:-
A. Analyse the requirements for a QA system at RI
B. Design and implement a computer-based system to meet these requirements
C. Test and evaluate the completed product

To meet these aims I will have to:-


A1. describe the format of the QA report that the customers require
A2. obtain background information on the statistical techniques used at RI
A3. produce a specification for the QA system
B1. identify an appropriate language or system in which to develop the software
B2. produce designs for database, input screen and output reports
B3. implement these designs in the chosen language
C1. generate test data to prove the correctness of the software
C2. evaluate the system from the point of view of the QA technicians and the management at RI
C3. review the process by which the system was developed and make recommendations for future work
Expected Outcome.

On completion of this project I will have to :


1. Produce a product in the form of a system or study to meet a set of agreed requirements.
2. Conduct an investigation relating to the requirements of the product or acquire and evaluate
relevant background information for the research.
3. Reach relevant and useful conclusions in the evaluation of the implementation or the explanations
offered.
4. Report and communicate findings effectively
5. A user guide showing how to operate the product
Additionally, I undertake to give a demonstration of the final product/project to my supervisor
before the report hand-in date. .

System Overview:

(Briefly discuss what the project is all about. The student can include a block
diagram/flowchart.)

Scope and Limitations:


The project will involve the production of a system for use specifically by RI. It will use test results from
the X91W, as well as other sample measurements. It will generate the quality assurance documents
required. The system is required to be operational by 1 April 2000. The system should have a designed life
of 2 years - which is the period for the current round of contracts.
The system will not interface to the work-in-progress system, nor will it be required to produce statistics for
monitoring the number of rejects produced by machine operators - who have a piece-work component to
their pay.

Research Methodology:

In order to determine the systems requirements, I will organise interviews with the QA manager and
technicians at RI. These will be structured interviews, with most of the questions pre-prepared. I will also
need to get copies of the quality control documents produced by the customers to whom the components
will be sold - this will be done by letter or phone call.
I will need to obtain a technical specification for the X91W device, with particular reference to the
computer interface it uses. There may also be third party suppliers who provide software for this product
and this will require a search through trade papers and on the Internet.
I intend to use the RAD approach for this project. I will need to ensure that I identify the ‘team’ and that
they are all familiar with the main RAD methods.
To determine the most appropriate language in which to develop this system, I will need to undertake the
writing of some simple test programs. I have used Visual Basic and Access in the past. My knowledge of
Pascal is good, but I will need to do some extra work if I decided to use Delphi.
I will also need to do research into the statistical techniques used in QA. I expect that I shall be able to find
all the information I need from the UCE library.
Project Evaluation:

(Provide information on the metrics that will be used to determine the effectiveness of the project or
program.)

To evaluate the product I intend to use a log book approach, so that the technicians enter the details of any
problems they encounter when running the program. I will use a questionnaire to find out what management
and customers think of the product - this will mean that I will need to find out more about questionnaire
design.

Risk Analysis and Contingency Planning


1. The specification cannot be delivered on time - this could be caused by the following:-
a. The customers do not agree on how they want the reports to be produced. If this happens then I will
either have to make up a general report of my own or just produce a report to the main customer’s
requirements. In any case this is not likely to be a major problem as I can design the report stage to
be independent of the rest of the program and thus will be able to start design and implementation,
even if this information is incomplete.
b. It is not possible to get the technical computer-interface specification for the X91W. I will therefore
have to consider an alternate method of input -eg directly through the keyboard.
2. The program development hits problems. The possible causes of this happening are:-
a. The programming skills required turns out to be too difficult for me. In which case I will try to use
spreadsheets to do the calculations and produce the reports. This would be a major problem, so I will
need to leave enough time to complete the programming correctly.
b. I am unable to get my program to interface with the X91W device. This might occur if the technical
specification is missing, or if the device’s supplier only provides support for C++, a language with
which I am not familiar. If this occurs I will fall back on entering data through the keyboard. As this
is also a possible serious problem, I will design my system to take input from both the interface and
the keyboard. This will also mean I can test my software without needing to go to Walsall and
interrupting the normal work of the QA dept

3. I am unable to get enough information to evaluate the product. This might happen because:-
a. I have taken too long to complete the programming. I will need to prioritise the functions of the
software and ensure the highest priority functions are completed first.
b. the technicians fail to complete the logbook. I will need to undertake interviews with the technicians
to fill in missing information.
c. the questionnaire does not produce enough results. I will need to have the questionnaire checked
before it goes out. I will need to do phone interviews if the results do not come back in time.
The main risk with this project is failing to complete the software by 1 April 2000. I will need to ensure that
the specification phase does not overrun, as this will have a knock-on effect. I have also described how I
would deal with some of the problems that might occur within the programming phase. I must try to set a
realistic set of milestones for this phase and seek early advice from my supervisor if problems arise.
As the main deadline is 1 April 2000, it should leave sufficient time to complete the evaluation and to write-
up the project report. However, at this time I will also be undertaking coursework and revision for my final
year options and will need to include time to complete these items into my overall schedule.

Resources:
For this project I will require access to the following items of hardware and software:-
X91W Tensile Tester - this equipment is already installed at RI. I will be able to use it between 6 and 9pm
on weekdays and at certain weekends, when scheduled maintenance work takes place (roughly every 3
weeks).
Target computer, PC-style, running Windows NT and with an interface card for the X91W. This is planned
for installation at RI, the order is likely to be made in October 2000 for delivery in November 2000.
Development system, PC-style, running Windows 98 or Windows NT. I have my own machine running
Windows 98 and have Visual Basic and Delphi 3 CD-ROMs available. If I need to use Access or Excel I
will make use of the equipment at the university. It may be possible that RI will purchase this software with
the target machine, in which case I will be able to use it there.
In addition, I will need to be able to use a word processor to prepare interim and final reports and the user
guide. Also I will need access to a web browser to do searching on the internet and to search electronic
libraries. These facilities are available through the university.
I will need to use journals and books in the university library. To access trade journals for the motor
component industries I will use the Central Library in Birmingham.
To print out interim and final copies of reports I will use the facilities at the university. I have access to a
colour inkjet printer, this may be used for the screen dumps and the user guide.

References
I have used the following reference material in planning this project proposal. These references will also be
key sources when I come to start the project in September.
Books:-
Bennet, G ‘Developing database applications in Visual basic 5’ Qube Publications (1999)
This book will help me to learn more about VB5. It will be particularly useful because it has a section on
how to interface to Access databases.
Blofeld, E.S (edn) ‘Real time software engineering techniques’, Collins (1997) 001.00712/Real
In this book there is a section describing how to draw diagrams to describe the protocol for communicating
between computers; I will need this in order to interface with the X91W.
Dawson, L ‘The philosophy of RAD: The Modern Zen?’, Prentice-Hall (1996) 001.562/Daw
This covers the main features of the RAD methodology - which I intend to use in this project.
Powers, A ‘Applied statistics for process engineers’ DPP publications (1994)
This appears to have most of the statistics I need.
Journals:-
Attword, D.E ‘Just In Time - changing the supplier chain’ Cost Accounting Today, Jan 1998
An article describing the advantages and problems of JIT, and the relationship between supplier and
customer.
Journal of Quality Control Managers - current issues
Regularly contains articles on the use of statistical techniques for forecasting and trouble-shooting.
Motor Components Monthly - current issues
Has had case studies on the use of computers in by component suppliers.
Web sites:-
Microsoft Reference Library - <www.microsoft.com/doclib/VB5.asp>
Information on Visual Basic 5. Includes FAQ and Techniques pages.
Delphi reference site - <www.delphi4.com/sources/thirdparty.htm>
A good site for suppliers of add-ins for Delphi. I may choose Delphi to develop the system. It may also be
useful to compare VB5 with Delphi in my report.
Batmole Instruments - <www.batmole.co.uk/products/X91W.html>
Publicity and technical information on the X91W tensile tester. Also has phone numbers and email
addresses which may prove useful in getting help.
Timeplan:
Activity Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May
1. Confirm arrangements with RI X...
2. Modify project proposal .X..
3. Get information on X91W XXX.
4. Find out customer requirements .XXX X...
5. Draw up output report spec .XXX
6. Produce ERD and DFDs XX..
7. Test programs for X91W in VB5 .XXX X...
8. Design screen layout ..XX
9. Write interim report .XXH HEE.
10. Implement database ..XX XX.H HEE.
11. Write application code ..XH HEEX X...
12. Test without X91W XX..
13. Test with X91W ..XX
14. Write user guide X..H H...
15. Hand over system ...H X...
16. Write draft report ...H XXXX
17. Demo software to supervisor ...H H..X
18. Supervisor review draft X...
19. Edit final report .XX.
20. Report handed in ...X