Case Studies

Applying New Technology and New Thinking for Dramatic Returns

Applying New Technology and New Thinking for Dramatic Returns

As a worldwide designer and manufacturer of fire rescue vehicles, E-ONE provides state-of-the-art equipment that is recognized for its superior firefighting and rescue capabilities. They manufacture custom and commercial vehicles that meet and exceed the needs of fire departments, rescue and EMS squads, airports, and Homeland Security agencies.

Headquartered in Ocala, Florida, E-ONE (www.e-one.com) is the industry leader in product innovations, new technologies, and exceeding their customers’ expectations. Innovation has long been the company’s driving force and continues to be the impetus behind their pursuit of new technologies to answer today’s demands.

Problem

As could well be imagined, there are many parts on any fire rescue vehicle that need to be measured and inspected during the manufacturing process. These parts often include: processed parts such as aluminum plate work; machine aluminum extrusions; vacuum formed plastic parts; purchased and/or manufactured steel parts; purchased assemblies; and steel or anodized piping. These parts range from a few cubic inches to cubic feet.

To measure this collection of parts, E-ONE used an assortment of hand tools including micrometers, digital and dial calipers, dial indicators, precision rules and straightedges, and even the basic tape measure. These hand tools, however, resulted in their own set of problems. First among these was difficulty measuring within ±0.031 inches on curved surfaces, complex extruded raw materials, and vacuum formed plastic parts. There was also a crucial need to do sampling – measuring multiple parts quickly to create a report derived from statistical data. And finally, the ability to reverse engineer tubing and piping for routing purposes as this was impossible using existing hand tools, especially for curved surfaces.

E-ONE considered several options to resolve their measurement needs. The first option was to do nothing and continue to absorb the inherent rework cost of their existing process. Another option was to go with dedicated inspection fixtures. These, however, have their own cost factors and do not offer any real flexibility. Another solution was to go with a portable CMM, an articulating measurement arm.

In E-ONE’s culture of innovation and continuous improvement, doing nothing was unacceptable. That left the decision between dedicated check fixtures or the portable CMM. Without a way to properly maintain (to measure) the fixtures, they would constantly be out of service for calibration. In addition, the space requirements to store all of the needed fixtures would be enormous.

Solution

After considering different measurement arms, E-ONE decided on the FARO Laser ScanArm®. Their decision was based on the demonstration they saw of the product and its technology. The convenient location of FARO’s training centers was another factor as was the customer service they received throughout the purchase process. “FARO’s great service continues to this day,” said James Musick, Quality Administrator at E-ONE.

The Laser ScanArm combines the contact measurement ability of the FaroArm® Fusion with the non-contact scanning ability of the Laser Line Probe attachment. With CAM2® and Geomagic® software, E-ONE is able to complete inspections and create reports in one easy process. The combination allows them to reverse engineer several parts and better define needed requirements.

As with any new equipment, some users were cautious about accepting the new technology. That’s the case with any change, but as E-ONE experienced success with the new data they received from the Laser ScanArm, any resistance disappeared.

E-ONE uses their portable CMM for part compliance and validation and for its reverse engineering capabilities. The ScanArm is used to verify materials and fabricated part dimensions when there is a fit up issue during assembly. It is also used to qualify suppliers and their manufacturing capabilities.

“The FARO Laser ScanArm gives us the accuracy and ability to hold suppliers accountable to the specification limits they committed to,” said Musick. “The reports (the FaroArm generates) are a fast and easy way to communicate that information.”

E-ONE also uses the ScanArm to document custom-fitted plumbing applications and to reverse engineer pump panel cut outs. In all of these functions, the reporting feature is invaluable for continued process improvements and for customer satisfaction.

“We build custom fire and rescue apparatus,” said Musick. “With the FaroArm, we are able to document identical trucks fast and accurately. It has greatly improved incoming parts and material. We now have the capability to see tolerance issues and identify parts that require the tighter tolerances that meet our needs.”

Return on Investment

What this has all meant for E-ONE with respect to their bottom line has been a dramatic savings in work time. Of course, that saved time means saved money as well.

“Using FARO, we have reverse engineered several parts outside our core competencies and this will allow us to outsource and remove 500-plus hours of labor annually,” said Musick. “The ScanArm allows incoming inspection sampling and immediate response (root cause) to part or fit up issues. This changes us from a completely reactive culture to a proactive one with the ability to immediately identify and correct root cause problems.”

For E-ONE, the greatest value is simple enough – the ability to measure complex curves and linear surfaces within their print specifications. In terms of actual time savings, E-ONE reports the following after just 10 months of implementation: 2500-plus hours saved in cost avoidance (rework identification and/or elimination) and 500-plus hours saved in reduced labor (reverse engineering and make/buy decisions). Together, these equal a dollar savings to E-ONE of an estimated $300,000 to date using the FARO Laser ScanArm.

E-ONE combines proven capability, reliability, and durability with innovations that transform fire rescue efforts. By applying new technology like the FARO Laser ScanArm and new thinking, E-ONE is bringing about change and finding better ways to protect the people and the industry they serve.

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