Quality Magazine

Programming Time Cut in Half

May 19, 2003
Customer demands for higher volumes of parts with shorter lead Arial often forces manu-facturers to either purchase new equipment or upgrade it. That was the challenge faced by Eagle Manufacturing (Florence, KY), an engine component supplier to Ford Motor Co. and Navistar International that produces more than 260,000 components per year. Thanks to new CMM software, the company was able to shorten its production cycle.

The company relied on a Sheffield RS-150 coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and a Sheffield 1808-M CMM to perform receiving and in-process operations, final inspections and occasional unscheduled layouts.

CMM programming and set-up times routinely created stumbling blocks that slowed down the production process. "Programming time was long and slow," says Richard Criswell, quality engineer for Eagle. "We needed CMM software that was user-friendly, without any restrictions on flexibility."

Eagle researched four brands of software before choosing Camio and LaunchPad, developed by LK Metrology Systems Inc. (Brighton, MI). According to Criswell, there are two types of CMM software. One is easy to use, but without flexibility, and the other is capable of doing most tasks, but programming is complex. Camio and LaunchPad, says Criswell, provide some of the best features of both types. "They're easy and enjoy-able to use, but still have the power to get the task done," he says.

After Eagle retrofitted the CMMs with the LK2000 DCC controller and Camio and LaunchPad software, programming time was cut in half, and in some cases, measuring operation speed increased by 75%.

"Operators appreciate how easy it is to use LaunchPad," notes Criswell. "They enjoy interacting with Windows, and they especi-ally like the Camio Graphical Reporting, which provides them with a faster, simpler method for analyzing data."

Camio is 3-D CMM software that provides a link between computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing and in-spection operations. LaunchPad allows operators to carry out vari-ous inspection programs using point and click capabilities, and provides complete component positioning and program launch-ing instructions using a graphic menu.

The programs have enhanced part quality and lowered production costs by limiting programming mistakes and reducing rework and scrap, according to Criswell. Operators also have the ability to program online. Online programming allows users to go straight to a programming error, edit it and continue operations, without having to start over from the beginning.

"The ability to program online and execute each command one at a time, and to stop the program and re-measure has saved us significant time and costs," says Criswell.

Criswell also identifies faster, easier operator training as a major contributor to higher plant effi-ciency. "LK software may be used by personnel of all levels of ex-perience," he says. "Prior to retrofitting, only skilled programmers were able to use the old software effectively, but the LK software bridges that gap."

LK Metrology Systems Inc.
(810) 220-4360
www.lk-cmm.com