ACE 3T Standard Operating Procedure Puts Quality Assurance and Quality Control into EAM Systems


An organization that adopts Plant Wellness Way EAM uses Accuracy Controlled Enterprise (ACE) 3T standard operating procedures to get world class work quality. The 3T’s are Target-Tolerance-Test. To help the doer do their work right first time an ACE sets specific 3T quality requirements for the tasks in a job. Using the Target-Tolerance-Test approach in PWW EAM system work quality management guides people to far surpass the results achieved from typical job procedures. An accuracy-controlled 3T procedure makes quality assurance and quality control part of the job deliverable. With QA-QC built into ACE 3T SOP documents they create a sure path to do top class work in every job—they help people to get the best performance from themselves. 

Keywords: ACE 3T Target-Tolerance-Test, standard operating procedure (SOP), work quality assurance, work quality control, work quality standard

Organizational problems this article helps you to address:

      • How to identify and write the best SOP contents to get the desired outcomes every time.
      • Make work quality assurance and work quality control a natural part of doing every job.
      • Guide the way of doing work so people know exactly how to get outstanding task reliability.

What Happens When Work is Done Without an SOP?

If there is no standard operating procedure or work instruction for people to follow the job outcome is left to luck. Every job in a company done without following an SOP is a sure recipe for creating countless future failures in the organization. Companies that do not use SOPs and simply trust the knowledge and experience of their people are likely to be in the lower quartile of their industry and risk staying there forever. Such practice naturally causes a never-ending series of problems, day after day, month after month, year after year, forevermore. All because there are no SOPs to guide people in how to do the job right in the best way known.

What Happens If an SOP Only Has a Written Description Without Quality Standards?

If you use standard operating procedure or work instruction without task quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) the document provides guidance but cannot ensure the correct work results. A written SOP with no QA-QC cannot prevent task variation and so a wide range of outcomes will result. Those unwanted and unrecognised variations will cause future failures and problems day after day, month after month, year after year, forevermore. All because there are no task QA-QC specifications in SOPs, so people do not know when they have made an error.

If there is only a descriptive standard operating procedure or work instruction for people to follow, it has no way to get the right results from the work except by trial and error. Your people will keep making mistakes in doing the procedure until they work out what to do to get passable results. Enterprises that use descriptive procedures with no quality standards to meet cause variability and get a continual stream of troubles that stop their organization ever being a leader in their field.

What Happens When Quality Assurance and Quality Control Are Put Into an SOP?

When companies put quality assurance and quality control requirements into a standard operating procedure or work instruction their people use them to intentionally get the right work quality. Operations with quality standards in their SOPs and teach their people how to deliver those performance results craft a sure and repeatable path to reach the heights of operational excellence.

The True Purpose of an ACE 3T SOP is to Ensure No Defects, No Failures are Left Behind

The image below shows using 3T work quality standards in SOPs creates statistical process control in human dependent activities. An ACE 3T SOP makes clear who is responsible to get the necessary job quality. Each latest version of a procedure better controls the job outcomes. An ACE 3T SOP controls task performance quality to minimise variation in cost, time, and reliability.


ACE 3T procedures create a ‘mental bullseye’ challenging us to hit them right on center. They are like the archery target in the following image: to get full marks require hitting within the center circle. But you still get good marks for being close. By specifying the inner-most circle on the board—a world class performance—you know how good your work must be to get the best result. By setting the outer tolerance ranges on the board, you know how much better you need to become to be one of the best. Once there is a clear goal to reach, human nature helps us rise to the challenge.


The writer of an ACE 3T procedure identifies the QA-QC requirements and puts them in the task descriptions. The Target work quality standard is set as the world class result (or as the best result that you want). The Tolerance is set as the very worst result that you will accept. The proof test confirms if the task result is acceptable, or if the person doing it needs to do the task better. Target provides precision, Tolerance sets the quality standard, and Test delivers work task reliability.

The Tolerance value is set at how badly the doer can leave a task but still be ‘good-enough’ to use for its intended purpose. By having an outer limit everyone now knows what good-enough is, and what it is not! Typically, the good-enough limit is the quality standard used by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). All else beyond the good-enough limit is unacceptable and considered to be a defect and failure and the job cannot continue until the doer repeats the task and the outcome is within Tolerance. Nothing can continue forward in an ACE 3T job procedure until all prior tasks meet the required quality standard. That ensures the doer leaves no defects behind in their work that become future failures.

When introducing accuracy-controlled 3T SOPs, we recommend that you write the SOP by setting task standards to the OEM specification (which is the worst result allowed). Then, in an appendix accompanying the procedure, set separate QA-QC task standards for the best task results. Set those standards at world-class work quality. Tell your people the Appendix is for those who want to be world class at doing the job. Human nature will drive them to try to reach the heights of excellence.

Mike Sondalini
PWWEAM System-of-Reliability
2 June 2022