|The operator touches predefined points sequentially, as visually indicated on the PC screen. |
Engineers at Gehl's South Dakota production plant in Madison found a faster way to verify large production fixtures and manufactured parts of construction and agricultural equipment. They simply position the portable Metris K-Series Optical CMM on the production floor, and measure points of choice on-the-spot using the wireless tactile SpaceProbe. This ergonomic metrology system enables Gehl to halve geometric verification time that is spent on chassis and driver compartment, and also provides deeper insights when troubleshooting new equipment prototypes.
Measuring at the Production Line
Farmers and construction workers value compact Gehl skid loaders, telescopic handlers, track loaders, excavators, all-wheel-steer loaders, articulated loaders and asphalt pavers for their ingenuity, innovation and reliability. At the production site in Madison, South Dakota, engineers manufacture skid and track steer loaders and telescopic handlers that have been designed at the company headquarters in Wisconsin. To monitor the production quality of this compact outdoor equipment, Gehl staff members perform geometric measurement right at the production line.
"Quality control involves the inspection of selected geometric features and surface points on steel parts after being stamped, drilled, and painted," explains Joseph Palmiotto, Quality Assurance Manager for Gehl in Madison. "We not only monitor finished parts, but also verify mechanical fixtures used for part production and assembly of chassis and driver compartment, for example. To more efficiently execute metrology tasks on components of various sizes, we moved from an articulated measuring arm with a limited reach to a Metris K-Series system that covers a considerably larger measuring volume early last year."
Zero Setup Time
"The K-Series system impacts productivity big time," says Dale Yeager, Gehl Quality Technician. "The Optical CMM immediately activates a measurement volume that fits an entire loader vehicle, even with its lifter moved in most upward position. Using the wireless tactile SpaceProbe, we can walk around and measure predefined points sequentially, as visually shown on the PC screen." The metrology software that comes with the K-Series system automatically displays where the next measurement point is located. And when touching the point, the software provides instant confirmation regarding measurement validity. Yeager says that quality technicians define inspection procedures by clicking the desired points on the graphic user interface and enter the points in a macro to record the process flow.
50 Percent Faster & Instant Data Feedback
"Overall, we realize 50 percent inspection time gains," says Yeager, attributing this to K-Series' zero setup time and Optical CMM that covers all inspection points from a single position. "The absence of mechanical constraints creates superior operator comfort, which allows the inspection of hundreds of points in and around a skid steer loader to be performed a lot faster. After taking measurements in one production line, we readily move the system to another line using the cabinet roller and Optical CMM trolley. Overall, the system is used 5-6 hours a day by different operators in our production facility."
K-Series consistently reaches an accuracy level of 1.5/1000 of an inch, and outputs the data in any graphic or numerical format of choice. Instant data feedback is critical in production, but also beneficial when assessing prototype vehicles of new models. Yeager explains that K-Series is sometimes brought in to quickly trace the root cause of specific assembly issues. "In the case of a load arm bushing problem, Gehl metrology engineers traced the source of the problem with the SpaceProbe without having to disassemble the load arm. Because K-Series saves time and supports engineering, our colleagues at Gehl engineering headquarters in Wisconsin now use the same metrology system."
Inspecting telescopic handlers or larger assemblies measuring 10 feet or more seems quite challenging. Joseph Palmiotto says that he considers purchasing additional Optical CMMs, which would enable him to double or triple the measurement volume. As an alternative, his team uses magnetic reference spheres to leapfrog measurements taken from multiple camera standpoints.
Palmiotto is impressed with K-Series because he sees that measurement time is cut in half, and that production staff is eager to fine-tune the process based on the inspection results. "Where they initially backed down our internal metrology services, they are now begging for it. Portable ergonomic metrology systems such as K-Series increase the acceptance of metrology and make it an integral part of our manufacturing operations."
Contact: Metris USA, Inc., 12701 Grand River, Brighton, MI 48116 810-220-4360 fax: 810-220-4300 Web: http://www.metris.com