Case Studies: Making Quality Portable
General Automotive Manufacturing Co. LLC (GA, Franklin, WI) produces steel, aluminum and brass parts used in fuel systems, hydraulic assemblies, brake systems, and gas and diesel engines. In some instances, GA was finding burrs and other part defects that its manufacturing team had not detected before the parts went through final inspection by the quality department. After defects were detected, GA was reprocessing "blindly," because they did not have the ability to see the defect at the manufacturing cell.
General Automotive needed to find inspection tools that could be used inside deep bores and in small diameter holes. The company also needed to report defects and process problems more quickly to manufacturing teams in order to ensure on time delivery of orders with no incidents of defects. Burrs, sharp edges and other defects can be extremely detrimental,
particularly in the case of mission-
GA practices zero-defect and
on-time-delivery quality policies. To ensure the success of these policies, GA's quality engineering and metrology teams worked with supplier partner Gradient Lens Corp. (GLC, Rochester, NY) to find a solution. GLC's portable line of borescopes-called Hawkeye Precision-has a lens system that is made with chemically treated glass requiring fewer lenses in each scope. Because the price of the equipment generally increases with each lens, Gradient Lens' Hawkeye borescope is less expensive when compared with other scopes.
According to Gary Kosterman, GA quality manager, the borescopes fit in multiple work cells where necessary. Each cell is a self-contained manufacturing team that includes a visual inspection station. The inspection stations are equipped with a Hawkeye borescope, a portable or fixed-light source, and often a video monitor to allow the operator to view part images quickly and comfortably. This system provides immediate detection capabilities at the point of operation and allows containment of defects early in the manufacturing process.
"This cell concept vs. batch process also allows our operators to have direct input in process improvement," Kosterman says. "We have learned that borescope visual inspection is as important to our manufacturing and quality processes as some of our metrology procedures. Before working with Gradient Lens Corp., we had tested competitive borescope brands. None compared with the versatility, quality and affordability of Hawkeye."
Although the borescope's primary function is to check machined parts, engineers also use them to diagnose the cause when an assembly line machine is experiencing trouble. GA engineers have found that the borescopes save them time and labor, as well as giving them the accurate images they need without slowing down production.
Gradient Lens Corp.
• Engineers can diagnose cause of a problem without slowing down production.
• The borescopes allow the engineers to see the defects at the manufacturing cell.
• The portable borescopes fit in multiple work cells when necessary.