Express Manufacturing is a job shop that is dedicated to quickly producing accurate parts for their customers. Based in Acton, Ontario, Express (expressmfg.com) specializes in aluminum, mild steel, and even wood. With a goal of being an affordable machine shop, they focus on jobs with smaller quantity outputs which best affords them the opportunity to do what they do best – work quickly with accurate parts.
With a primary focus in the aerospace industry, specifically landing gear, Express Manufacturing often must inspect bearing surfaces and mating surfaces with very tight tolerances. Solely using micrometers and electronic height gauges on these parts created issues of time and material waste and, generally, some frustration.
Another issue that can also potentially hinder achieving the desired high accuracy is the problem inherent with removing a part from a tooling machine while in-process. Despite the best of efforts, it is difficult, if not impossible, to set a part back into a machine for re-tooling exactly as it was before. In addition, simply removing the part from a production machine for inspection and verification is, in itself, both time consuming and expensive.
Inspecting parts directly on the machine producing them not only increases productivity, but also quality. On-machine inspection allows the machine tool operator to quickly and easily inspect parts directly on the floor while the part is being machined – resulting in tighter tolerances with fewer errors and re-work.
Express Manufacturing was looking for a solution that would provide them the advantage of true on-machine inspection. That tool is the FARO GagePlus. The Gage is a highly accurate and easy-to-use measurement arm. It’s designed to be used directly on the shop floor and is ideal for on-machine inspection.
Eric Wenger, the owner of Express Manufacturing, said, “On-machine inspection is where the FARO Gage shines and it really helps us a lot.”
They will still “double check” with the height gauge, but they can be confident in the part before they take it off the machine. This saves them a lot of time, material, and that frustration.
Return on Investment
Express did a trial program called the FARO Technology Test Drive which enabled them to evaluate the equipment in the “real world” situation of their own shop floor. With a minimal investment and no risk, they were able to test the Gage and prove out its ROI before purchase.
“We did the trial and saw straight away the savings we could make in time and material,” said Wenger. “The portability and accuracy are what we were looking for and what we needed.”
An added bonus for Express is now having a CMM in their shop. They have since reverse engineered parts and have been able to verify the quality of parts they’ve been making for years. In fact, they verified their measurements using the FARO Gage with a very expensive table CMM and found no discrepancy at all.
“The implementation was very easy. Especially with the Test Drive program and training,” said Wenger. “We have better peace of mind now.”
The Gage has improved Express’ process measuring time and the accuracy of parts before taking them off the machine – again, saving a lot in material cost.
“The Gage turned a five week job into a three week one,” said Wenger. “We have saved about $15,000 so far in the year we’ve had the Gage and this figure would be much higher if not for the rough economy. I project that FARO will save us about $25,000 to $30,000 a year in a normal economy.”
Wenger also said one unexpected benefit of having the FARO Gage is, “It’s a great selling feature for when people come to see the shop. Customers like the fact that it’s in the shop and we always make it visible when they come.”
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