Monday, May 16, 2016

Moving Inspection to the Shop Floor

Manufacturing in North America is going through a renaissance over the last few years, driven by rising labor costs overseas,   the desire to simplify the supply chain, and the availability of cost effective automated solutions. These factors have also contributed to drive a renewed interest in manufacturing efficiency; bringing about new processes, tools, and systems that help you make more parts faster.

These new production levels often require improvements inspection processes, in order for the Quality Department to keep up with manufacturing. There are numerous aspects of inspection that can be focused on to increase capacity, such as reducing inspection cycle time, Off-Line Programming, reduced sampling rates. But one of the most popular topics of late, is Shop Floor Inspection.

Shop Floor Inspection means taking the inspection process, and integrating it into the work flow on the manufacturing floor to reduce the amount of Work In Progress (WIP). This solution is often thought to be realistic only for the “big guys” and some smaller companies overlook the opportunity to gain improvements.

But simply taking a CMM and putting it in the middle of your floor, likely won’t get you the results you are looking for. Getting the efficiency and throughput gains possible from shop floor inspection requires planning, planning, and more planning, to ensure success. Here we will focus on four key areas that are critical to making the project work.

1. Current State:
The first step in planning for Shop Floor Inspection is to truly understand the current state of the inspection process. What are all the steps involved in measuring a part? Are they always followed? What are the bottlenecks and why? Who is involved making the process work? Why should a change be made?

Documenting these type of items can be a great tool for understanding the process problems you face, and may even bring to light possible solution that are a simpler. In fact, assessing your process in this way can be a great benefit to improving your efficiency and reducing waste
throughout your organization. Groups like the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) can provide you training and tools for these exact scenarios. This effort will also help you determine if the equipment you are considering is the right tool for the job.

2. Environment:
Environmental assessment is often limited to the temperature, and CMMs which claim to be “shop-hardened” are sought as the answer. But in reality, temperature is only one factor to be considered, and buying a specialty machine that may not offer any real advantage over a standard unit may not deliver the results intended.

Floor space, workflow, and cleanliness are all factors to be considered when moving inspection to the shop floor, and can each have a significant impact on the outcome of the project.

  • How will the parts flow to the CMM? 
  • What floor space beyond the machine is required? 
  • Can the cleanliness of the parts be maintained to allow for proper inspection? 

Of course the answers to these questions are unique to every shop floor, and may even differ depending on the type of equipment being considered. But using the information gathered in Step 1 above, you can make a good determination of what is the right implementation for your needs.

3. Resources: 
Many times when moving a process from the QA lab to the floor, the impact that the people and tools involved in the inspection can have is overlooked in the planning stages. For example, the CMM programmer in the lab is a specialist, who likely spends their entire day working in and around the CMM.

The person who will be using the CMM on the floor, is also likely a specialist but in a very different discipline and may have never worked with a CMM before. Therefore, it is important to look at not only training, but also the tooling, work instructions, and problem escalation that will be part of this person’s new tasks.

Are they capable of running the machine? Are the fixtures for part holding sufficient to let them easily and accurately load the part? Is the new task made clear to them? And finally, what happens when something goes wrong? The fate of the project ultimately lies in the hands of those doing the work and it is important provide them with the tools and training they will need to succeed.

4. Monitoring: 
The final piece to implementing Shop Floor Inspection is setting up a simple, realistic monitoring process. In each of the steps above, we have outlined critical items that will affect the outcome and success of the project and it is important to monitor and report these items to track progress. If the goal of the project was to reduce inspection waiting time, then this is a factor that should be monitored.

  • Is the equipment meeting expectations of cycle time, and if not, why? 
  • Are the team members using the tools provided? 
  • Do those tools ensure that the job is done effectively? 
  • What problems have occurred and how were they eliminated? 

Documenting these items will provide the data necessary to get the most out of your investment and keep driving improvements in your inspection and manufacturing processes for continued efficiency.

Moving inspection to the shop floor can be a great way to improve efficiency and productivity in your plant. But this means more than just buying a CMM and sticking it on the floor.

Understanding where you are coming from, and what you need to accomplish is critical to being successful.

At Wenzel America, we strive to help you in this process by understanding your goals, as well as your challenges, to offer the best value solution to meet your productivity and efficiency needs.

Regardless of the size of your company or the complexity of your processes, we can offer our assistance to help you determine the best course of action for your shop floor.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Control Show, Stuttgart – the biggest QA show in the world, by far.

Just recently, the 30th annual Control Show was held in Stuttgart, Germany. The show is by far the largest trade show in the world which showcases metrology, materials testing, weighing, counting and QA systems.

This year the show had net floor space of almost 300,000 square feet, had 914 exhibitors and was visited by almost 27,000 visitors from 31 countries.

To put this in context, let’s compare the show size to a show we perhaps all know better in the USA; IMTS in Chicago. IMTS, measured by floor space and visitors is 4 times larger than control, but don’t forget that the QA part of IMTS occupies only around 1/16th of the floor space. So the Control show is at least 4 times the size of the quality zone of IMTS!

The size of Control is even more staggering when you compare it to the only similar show in the USA, the Quality Show. All of us in the industry were pleased to see relaunch of this once very large show, but in terms of show size and visitor numbers it is only 10% of that of Control.

So why is Control so big? It must be the low cost of the floor space in Germany compared to McCormack Place or Rosemount in Chicago, right? Well actually no – the floor space in Control is around $27/ft² compared to $30/ft² in Chicago. 

So how come vendors like Wenzel have such huge booths at Control in comparison to IMTS or Quality? In my opinion it comes down to value like everything else in life. 114,000 visitors come to IMTS but what percentage of those visitors are interested primarily in the Quality Zone? 20%? 10%? I suspect 10% is closer to the mark, so we can say that the people manning the Wenzel booth are hoping to meet 11,000 people. ALL of the 27,000 visitors to Control are potential customers for the exhibitors. 

So it’s really worth vendors like Wenzel investing in a huge booth where they can show off all of their new technology. Because of this, the visitor has much more probability of seeing a solution to his quality problem and because of this he will not only return to the Control show the following year, but he will share the success of it with colleagues and business associates.

This has been the key to the growth and sustainability of Control. Big booths, lots of solutions to see, appreciative visitors, return visitors, recommended visitors and so on.

So, in addition to the normal demonstrations of Wenzel’s range of CMM’s running the latest Renishaw probing technology, gear testing machines, CT machines and high speed optical scanning machines we launched our Styling Studio Solutions as a separate product line and showed some cool new stuff.

It’s all the rage to talk about Industry 4.0, the fourth incarnation of the industrial revolution, and in support of the idea of the future automated factory we showed a Wenzel LH65 being robot loaded in a simulation of an unmanned cell. 

You can watch a video of the cell here and some other examples of Wenzel automated systems here.

Another notable highlight on the Wenzel booth was the introduction of our new R-series
horizontal arm machine. The R-machine had undergone a number of technical improvements and has also been dressed in the Wenzel black and white livery as seen on the other CMM machines on the booth. 

The RAF machine was also carrying and demonstrating the new version of the popular Wenzel Shapetracer Laser Scanner; the Shapetracer II. The second incarnation of this sensor is faster, has a wider stripe, collects more points and is less sensitive to part surface finish than previous modal. 

The standard model boasts a new blue laser light source but other wavelengths will shortly become available. This other laser source colors will allow Wenzel to incorporate the light source most appropriate to customer needs rather than pushing a particular color. The Shapetracer II also sports the new Wenzel livery.

On the end of the booth five booth-high, translucent banners were hung, each showing one of the 5 distinct product lines now offered.

So Control was, as usual, super-successful and a WIN-WIN for visitors and exhibitors alike. This show should surely be the model for the shows that have a QA component here in the US and around the world. 

Andy Woodward
Wenzel America.

Aerospace makes a comeback

A recent report by the LAEDC details the “Changing Face of Aerospace in Southern California.” A news story, based around that report states, “Aerospace is making a comeback in Southern California.

One of the reasons, “Just like other kinds of U.S. manufacturing, aerospace has become more "capital intensive", according to Christine Cooper, an economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). “Which means higher levels of automation and fewer levels of employees, and the employees are more productive," she said. 

We’re retaining the higher level of manufacturing here in this area,” Cooper said. "Although it's small, it's growing quickly." The resurgence is due in part to the need for higher levels of manufacturing and the increased productivity.

While the report is specifically about Southern California and the “Aerospace Industry Cluster”, the report details the methodology used to make the determination and mine some of the data. So it is feasible that a study similar to this may have been, or could be done in your particular area. 

Where does Wenzel fit into this? Well, first and foremost, Wenzel offers unparalleled high productivity custom solutions for metrology. 

We have a proven track record with turbine blade measurement, as well as traditional metrology applications.Take a look at this post to see some of our recent innovations.

#1 We make all the granite components ourselves. Check this post out for details. This means while we offer standard sizes, we can just as easily put your customized sized CMM in our production pipeline. We have made long bridge machines (8 meter Y bridge machine in picture) as well giant LHF machines to accommodate rings of 4 meters wide and 12 meters long.

We can make this machine to your exact size specifications to fit in your facility, no compromises. Not all frames are created equal and not all support is equal as well. The availability of factory trained technicians, a stock of wearing and spare parts here in the U.S. and access to web based support, ensures your investment has maximum uptime.

#2 We offer 5-axis scanning at 500 mm/sec for your parts. Marrying a REVO sensor to the Wenzel frame gives you the best of both worlds. You have a solid rigid frame with the fastest tactile scanning technology available. 

Some of the benefits of five axis machining technology can be found here. Some of the same reasons you can gain an advantage over your competitors by 5-axis machining are the same for utilizing 5-axis measuring. Faster setup times, better accuracy, and having the capabilities to check parts you bid on, thereby future proofing your shop.

If the manufacturing in aerospace is making a comeback, an excellent CMM will be able to prove to your customers that your parts meet their requirements. Again, you excel at manufacturing, why should you cast doubt on it with an inferior and slow CMM? 

The REVO’s speed and infinite articulation coupled with the Wenzel frame will reduce the measuring time needed to check your part and increases throughput of your entire manufacturing process. The REVO guarantees you the optimal throughput and the Wenzel CMM means you have the platform capable of wringing all that performance out of the REVO. 

#3 We have the application know-how in house to get the most out of your Wenzel CMM - REVO System. With all the REVO’s on Wenzel machines that we have installed, we have the programming knowledge to get your team up to speed quickly. In some cases, we can help plan and test most of the programming before the machine even arrives. 

We have a couple of partners, for example, Borbolla Metrology and Vantage Measurement Systems that have in house application support for REVO. Having those resources in house, at the start of your project means that you ensure a rapid development of strategies and processes that maximizes your investment. This means your measuring parts sooner and providing validating data to your customer when needed.

Customers have seen reduction in measuring times from PH10 systems from ~80 minutes to ~10 minutes. This was based on our re-writing of their programs, to get the results they required, but utilizing the 5-axis technology of the REVO. We will teach your team how to increase the throughput of your metrology lab.

If there is a resurgence in high level aerospace manufacturing in Southern California and perhaps the entire country, it makes sense to have a partner that can keep up with your need for increased precision and quality while helping to improve your throughput.

Don’t compromise on the piece of the equation
 that validates your expertise in manufacturing. 

Wenzel America is your partner for high level manufacturing.