May 18, 2015

It’s Been a Tape Measure Week!

By Paul Bieber

Was it a big home run off the bat of a New York Met? No!

Was it an investment in Stanley Works, which make tape measures? No!

Then, why?

It started Monday afternoon. I was doing a consulting visit with a glass shop, and he was showing me around. He had just installed a new programmable chop saw for cutting metal. It was expensive, to say the least. When I asked my client why he bought it, he said that his own employees and his vendor’s employee’s couldn’t read a tape measure. Everything at a job site was always an eighth of inch out, every day.

Then came the biggie. My consulting partner, Stan Lane, and I were on a conference call with a client who is interested in having us do some work. We were discussing quality control for glazing contractors, and by sheer coincidence, we started talking about how tape measures need to be constantly calibrated and certified in daily use.

Everyone knows that the tip of every tape measure begins to wobble with use. How much discrepancy are you willing to accept in your company? It should be zero. Even a 32nd off will throw you considerably off at the end of a punch window installation.

So here is what you do. Cut a piece of bar stock that is exactly two foot long. Measure it, grind it down to an exact length and mount it on the wall right next to your time clock. Every glazier who punches in must measure his tape against this fixed bar, and initial a sheet that the measurement has been done. And your supervisors must check this sheet daily. If a glazier’s tape is off, give him a new one, no questions asked. This will save you a lot of grief down the road.

What about your glaziers who don’t come to the office daily? Have a copy of your measuring bar mounted on a board and brought to your job site. Again, each glazier must measure his tape against it, daily, and initial a sheet. 

Don’t accept mistakes in reading tape measures. If you come across work that is wrong, and the answer is, “I misread my tape,” then this person is not a qualified glazier. He may be a shop assistant or some-such animal, but not a lead person working for a glass shop.  Reading and caring for a tape is one of the responsibilities of a journeyman glazier. 

Some people say you should never read a tape from the edge, but should start at the one inch mark to prevent the edge-wobble. This might work in a controlled factory situation, but won’t make it for a glazier working at a job site. Others say to wrap duct tape around the edge so that it doesn’t wobble, but this will throw off your measurement by the thickness of the tape. Keeping a supply of decent tape measures in your inventory is a small expense compared to cutting metal or glass twice.