Semi-automated, multi-dimensional testing on the shop floor increases versatility and throughput.
Edited by Michelle Jacobson
Placing inspection processes on the shop floor optimizes floor space, provides complex measurements quickly, and maintains high productivity – overcoming time and inspection room capacity challenges faced in quality control (QC).
A walk-up metrology system, made up of a vision and multi-sensor system or a coordinate-measuring machine (CMM), is adaptable and runs various measurements. Manual one-feature measurements and semi-automated multi-dimensional testing of one part or multiple parts can be taken. It decentralizes the quality and measurement function and eliminates inspection bottlenecks by placing the measurement process next to production machines and technicians making the parts, rather than requiring a QC lab. The operator or technician becomes part of the process to effectively measure parts and conform to specifications. Eliminating these issues maintains quality inspection standards, especially for vehicle components that require intricate measurement processes. Vehicle components can be inspected faster and more efficiently, while maintaining quality inspection standards. This is especially desirable for first article inspections that can cause significant production delays when the QC Lab is backed up.
“In the past, the inspection process had to be done in a separate QC lab by a quality control professional, which can require longer periods of time to inspect a part,” says Mark Arenal, general manager of Starrett Kinemetric Engineering Inc., a subsidiary of The L.S. Starrett Co. “Walk-up metrology brings the inspection process to the shop floor where a machine operator can quickly walk up to the metrology system and measure the part through a simple and repeatable process.”
Measuring automotive components such as rubber door seals, gaskets, and connecting rods on the shop floor reduces bottlenecks and enhances throughput.
“This type of system is especially critical for the automotive industry because automotive manufacturers cannot afford to lose any time or have holdups in their operations,” Arenal explains. “Walk-up metrology greatly speeds the overall process and offers maximum flexibility.”
Using a walk-up metrology system, such as the Starrett HVR100 Flip, users can place a part on the system and the program optically measures it to determine if it meets specifications. The system, which can be used in a vertical or horizontal orientation, provides automatic part and multiple-parts recognition to measure specific geometric points. Once a part is inspected, the HVR100 will store the part data and auto-recognize the component the next time it is being measured (see sidebar, page 24). For increased productivity, the HVR100-Flip can use robotic automation for parts loading and unloading.
Subjectivity and operator-to-operator variation in using an optical comparator with traditional overlays are replaced by the part CAD (DXF) file. This allows for easy updates, fast changes, and inspection repeatability.
Technological advances of walk-up metrology systems make them more functional and accessible to engineers, tool and die makers, machinists, and maintenance shop employees. When more disciplines of a company understand and use the technology, measurement processes are more efficient. Walk-up metrology’s capabilities also make it a discoverable technology, allowing a part to be reverse engineered by making measurements quickly and easily via a touch screen.
“Walk-Up Metrology solutions are versatile, offering a wide range of uses from engineering and development to reverse engineering, quality, and inspection,” Arenal says. “Companies can experience a rapid payback on this type of metrology system.”
The CK3M programmable multi-axis controller uses EtherCAT and encoder communication protocols to interface with various encoders and motors, providing high-precision synchronous control and increased machine performance.
With output speeds of 50µs/5 axes, the controller’s high-speed feedback enables precise path control in precision machining. Machine builders can incorporate their own advanced control with its support for ANSI C or an original programming language.