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3-D Measurement Systems

"Greenlee Textron has found a solution to bring easy, accurate measurement to the shop floor," said a company spokesperson. "The quality assurance technician is out sick. The backlog for the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) is five jobs deep. The machine operator needs to check a hole position on a rush job. These are common occurrences on any manufacturing floor, ones that cause machine downtime, employee frustration, lost productivity and bad parts. Some shops attempt to solve these problems by placing a conventional CMM in the production area. This consumes valuable floor space, however, and often requires a special foundation and plumbing for compressed air. What is more, most CMMs require lengthy operator training, and are not suitable for the temperature swings and less-than-pristine air quality typical of many manufacturing environments."

Nathan Blair, Plant Manager at Greenlee Textron's Genoa, IL, facility, recognized all this, and contacted his local KEYENCE representative and scheduled a demonstration of the metrology provider's newest addition to its shop floor lineup, the XM Series handheld probe coordinate measuring machine.

"Greenlee has been around for more than 150 years," said Blair. "We became part of Textron Inc. in 1986, and primarily serve the electrical industry. Our facility has 63,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, with 80 employees working two shifts. We machine and assemble several Greenlee products at this location, including electric and hydraulic benders, cable pullers, cutters and strippers, and several hydraulic tools such as impact wrenches and drills, chainsaws and orchard pruners."

With that many products and employees, Blair needed a fast and simple to use measurement solution. The XM proved to be just that. Using a combination of high-resolution camera and unique, handheld probe, it guides the operator through a series of steps-simply touch the workpiece with the stylus, select the measurement parameters and follow the on-screen guide to measure points, surfaces, circles, ellipses and a variety of 3-D shapes, including freeform surfaces. The XM also allows recording of positions obtained while checking, a feature that simplifies creation of work instructions. It uses augmented reality to visually overlay measurement points and anticipated geometry on top of and alongside the workpiece image. This makes it easy for anyone to start using the XM, with no need for lengthy training or knowledge of measurement principles.

"The XM was purchased to relieve capacity constraints on our larger production CMMs," said Blair. "We mounted the system to a cart that allows us to roll it anywhere on the shop floor where a set-up is taking place, and can begin measuring a part as soon as it is removed from the machine. This is a big improvement from our past program prove-out experiences, in which we would need to break into the CMM schedule of normal production parts in order to perform first article inspection and complete the machine set-up-all while the CNC sits idle waiting for the inspection report so the operator can make the necessary offset modifications. It also reduces the time needed for the manufacturing engineering and/or quality department to diagnose a quality issue."

Shop supervisor Derek Ernest said, "The XM's capabilities are an important part of Greenlee's move into the digital manufacturing era. Not only is it a key player in managing part quality, but the XM also makes statistical process control (SPC) easier with its Cp and Cpk tracking capabilities. This helps to put our operators at ease with the whole idea of SPC, which in the past has been a very manual, pain-staking ordeal that can now be completed behind the scenes automatically." Ernest said the transition to shop floor measuring has been easy due to the high level of support from KEYENCE, as well as the system's ease of use, robustness and flexibility. "Installation was quick and pain-free, and the training very helpful and straightforward."

For more information contact:

Keyence Corporation of America

500 Park Boulevard, Suite 200

Itasca, IL 60143

888-KEYENCE (539-3623)

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