Hoosier Tank and Manufacturing is a family owned and operated manufacturer of steel air reservoirs for the heavy duty truck and trailer market. The company specializes in the custom design and production of high quality products that meet customer specifications.
Based in South Bend, Indiana, Hoosier Tank (http://hoosiertank.com) was founded over twenty years ago by Tom Kinnucan and Bill Welsch. Over the years, the company has continued to invest in new and updated equipment, resulting in both increased efficiency and continued growth. The company continues to invest in capital equipment that will make Hoosier Tank even more efficient and productive in the future.
Hoosier Tank and Manufacturing will be featured on the popular Science Channel show “How It’s Made” at 9PM on June 24, 2012.
Hoosier Tank produces more than 700 different air reservoir products that range in diameter from 4 to 24 inches. The company would previously inspect the standard 8 to 12 inch diameter tanks that are shipped to the truck trailer market using hand held gauges. These devices made accuracy a real concern. In fact, both accuracy and repeatability were issues when trying to consistently hold these gauges every time for every measurement. In some cases, measurements were visually read using non-digital methods which made precision to 3 decimal points difficult at best.
The company looked for a better solution and even considered a fixed CMM, but the lack of portability in the option would be an issue. It simply was not possible to move such a machine to the work area and moving in-process product to the machine created its own problems.
Ron Commons, Hoosier’s Quality Manager, had previously spent over twenty years in the auto industry, working most of that time for the Ford Motor Company. While in Detroit, he experienced the portability and ease-of-use of the FaroArm when measuring the interiors of cars during the development process. This experience with the FaroArm allowed Mr. Commons to show Hoosier Tank’s management the benefits of measurement accuracy using portable CMMs like those offered by FARO when he came to Hoosier in 2010.
After an on-site demonstration and consultation with Allen Golden, their local FARO Account Manager, Hoosier decided the best solution for them was the very accurate, yet affordable, FARO Gage. The Gage is a smaller version of the FaroArm and is not only accurate, it is also fast and easy to use.
The accuracy of the FARO Gage allowed Hoosier to decrease their assembly fixture construction time by eliminating several reworks that needed to verify that tanks met specification. The Gage also ensured a PPAP (Product Part Approval Process) dimensional layout to 4 decimal points with an R&R (Repeatability and Reproducibility) of 10%. The Gage also allowed Hoosier to conduct an accurate and time saving sampling plan for monitoring dimensions to accurately ensure on-going dimensional success.
As for how easy the FARO Gage is to use, Mr. Commons said, ”After only a day of training, my Quality Engineers, even those with zero previous CMM experience, were able to begin to write programs and measure tanks.” The company had a second day of training two weeks later to answer any questions that came about from their initial learning period. Since then, operators have had no other issues. “The ease of programming is amazing. It allows operators with no metrology experience to learn at a rapid pace and be successful.”
Mr. Commons reports that his Gage is used on a daily basis for product sampling. All new models are not placed into manufacturing until a FARO Gage layout has ensured the prototype has passed dimensional inspection.
Return on Investment
“The FARO Gage opened eyes to a machine and a process that was not known to most in the past,” said Mr. Commons. “The accuracy of the Gage has proven to be a positive experience for Hoosier’s management and it has become a good marketing tool for the company to gain new business.”
The Gage has allowed Hoosier Tank to quote and secure additional business like that of a major bus manufacturer and to accurately PPAP the new product. It also allows the company to quote other large truck companies where the company’s precision meets their customers’ product requirements.
“It’s sometimes difficult to put exact dollar figures on savings, but I would estimate that we have gained back half of the cost of our Gage in approximately 12 months through lower development costs,” said Mr. Commons. “With respect to our processes and the time it takes to develop assembly fixtures, what once took us several days, now takes only hours and that is a great return to us.”
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