Case Study: Testing Out Quality
Express Manufacturing (Acton, Ontario) is a manufacturer of aluminum, mild steel and wood parts for the aerospace industry, specifically landing gear. The company focuses on jobs with smaller quantity outputs, which enables it to do what it does best-work quickly with accurate parts.
Express Manufacturing often must inspect bearing surfaces and mating surfaces with tight tolerances. Until recently, the company achieved this solely by using micrometers and electronic height gages, which ultimately wasted time and money.
Express Manufacturing’s goal to maintain high accuracy also was hindered by the inherent difficulty of removing a part from a tooling machine while in-process. Despite the best of efforts, it was difficult, if not impossible, to set a part back into a machine for retooling exactly as it was before. In addition, simply removing the part from a production machine for inspection and verification was, in itself, both time-consuming and expensive.
To the RescueInspecting parts directly on the machine producing them not only increases productivity, but also quality. On-machine inspection allows the machine tool operator to quickly and easily inspect parts directly on the floor while the part is being machined, resulting in tighter tolerances with fewer errors and rework.
Express Manufacturing was looking for a solution that would give it true on-machine inspection. That tool is the Faro GagePlus from Faro Technologies Inc. (Lake Mary, FL). The gage is a highly accurate-up to 0.0002 of an inch-and easy-to-use measurement arm. It is designed to be used directly on the shop floor and is ideal for on-machine inspection.
“On-machine inspection is where the Faro gage shines and it really helps us,” says Eric Wenger, owner of Express Manufacturing. Express Manufacturing says it will still “double check” with its height gage during operation, but the company is now confident in a part before it takes it off the machine. This saves the company time, material and frustration.
Return on InvestmentExpress’ first introduction to the Faro technology was the result of a Faro trial program the manufacturer took part in. Called the FaroTechnology Test Drive, it enabled Express Manufacturing to evaluate the equipment on its own shop floor. With a minimal investment and no risk, Express was able to test the gage and prove out its return on investment (ROI) before purchase.
“We did the trial and saw straight away the savings we could make in time and material,” Wenger notes. “The portability and accuracy are what we were looking for and what we needed.”
Express also benefits by having a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) in its shop. The company has since reverse-engineered parts and has been able to verify the quality of parts it has made for years. In fact, it verified its measurements using the Faro Gage with a “very expensive” table CMM, and found no discrepancy at all.
Saving Time and MoneyThe gage has improved Express’ process measuring time and the accuracy of parts before taking parts off the machine, which saves a significant amount of material cost. “The implementation was very easy, especially with the Test Drive program and training.” Wenger says. “We have better peace of mind now.”
According to Wenger, the gage turned a five-week job into a three-week job. It saved approximately $15,000 in one year, a number Wenger says could double in easier economic times. “I project that Faro will save us about $25,000 to $30,000 a year in a normal economy,” Wenger adds.
Faro Technologies Inc.