With manufacturing plants throughout the world that produce parts for a variety of automobiles, the Chrysler Group recognizes that quality control must be exercised with perfection in its entire manufacturing value chain. At Chrysler Group’s Kokomo Transmission Plant (Kokomo, IN), automobile transmissions are assembled from hundreds of parts and cut with precision instruments.
Flatness measurement is a critical component to Chrysler Group’s transmission assembly. Each part is machined within a strict tolerance range as set by product design engineers and pass final inspection before being released to the manufacturing assembly process. Through the use of traditional coordinate measuring machine (CMM) instruments, Chrysler Group identified and maintained acceptable flatness standards.
However, in the pursuit of higher part quality, the company wanted a method to measure a greater level of flatness-per-inch to increase performance of its plant’s finishing operation. To do this, they required an instrument that could provide an actual “fingerprint,” or cut pattern, for each part. Its existing CMMs only provided a limited number of points of touch and failed to deliver the necessary measurement information. That is when X-Rite (Grandville, MI) introduced the Chrysler Group to the HoloMapper product.
Using the HoloMapper, Chrysler Group is able to get a complete 3D image of each part. “Flatness specifications can be easily misinterpreted,” says Ted Wiles, quality engineering supervisor at the Kokomo Plant. “Until the HoloMapper, we were unable to get the qualitative and quantitative information we needed to improve our machining patterns. Now we are able to adjust our part cutting machines with the precision we never had before. We now have a tool we can trust and use as part of our quality control process.”
The HoloMapper flood illuminates each part from the top down, measuring more than one million points in less than two minutes. A 3D image of the part is generated, giving the company’s quality control engineers like Doug Arnold a complete view of the cutting pattern.
“In minutes I can get a comprehensive view of the part,” says Arnold. “Based off of our increasing set of tolerances, I can use the HoloMapper’s software to ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ a part by color designation. To be able to do this in such a short time frame allows us to make real-time adjustments to the machines on the line.”
At Chrysler Group, an economic justification analysis is always required for in-plant investments. Payback periods vary, however. Under most circumstances in-plant investments must return their investment in no more than six months. In the case of the HoloMapper, the investment paid for itself through significant quality control improvements.