Widely used in the world of manufacturing, automation equipment and production lines are cornerstones of the industrial automation movement, and the impact they have — on various aspects of industrial production and on people’s lives — cannot be underestimated. The quality of a production line’s output directly correlates with the condition that it is in, which is why manufacturers place great importance on regular maintenance. For one such company, Dalian Zhiyun Automation Equipment Co., Ltd. (Zhiyun), FARO devices are the solution of choice for quality assurance.
Established in 1992, Zhiyun is a leading solution provider of complete automation equipment in China, providing customers with automated manufacturing process systems, R&D services, and system integration services. Its technologies and products are supplied to 95% of domestic engine manufacturers, including major automotive brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz.
In the past, Zhiyun primarily used conventional tools such as gantry-type coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), vernier calipers, and dial gauges for inspections. These methods had their limitations, and the team experienced varied challenges with each of them. For instance, while measuring with a gantry-type CMM provided highly accurate results, it was extremely time-consuming and laborious as objects had to be transported to the measuring room to be inspected. With manual hand tools, the measuring process was both arduous and prone to human error. The greater problem, however, was that these tools were unable to capture measurements of certain structures.
Mr. Yu Shuisheng, Head of Quality Assurance Department, said, “Some of these elements were impossible to measure with our existing tools, or we would only yield inaccurate measurement results. As our company’s business grew along with the industry, it became clear that there was a demand for higher quality production. This compelled us to seek out better measurement solutions that not only provided new measurement functions, but also realized the need for in-line measurement capabilities.”
A portion of Zhiyun’s automation equipment in assembly.
In its search for a reliable solution, Zhiyun was drawn to FARO’s positive reputation as the world’s leading supplier of portable 3D measurement solutions, and the team ultimately decided on the FaroArm — a portable articulated arm CMM.
One of the most common portable CMM devices available, the articulated arm is equipped with several articulating joints. These measurement arms are able to determine and record the location of a probe in 3D space and report the results through software. The name derives from the actual look of the hardware, resembling a human arm with a shoulder, elbow, forearm, and a wrist. To ascertain the position of a probe, the arms contain proprietary glass discs (called encoders) in each joint, and these encoders calculate the probe’s position as the arm moves freely throughout its workspace.
“A friend had recommended FARO to me,” recalled Mr. Yu. “We then did our own research on the Internet and found FARO to be a very professional brand that supplied products of high precision. The company also received glowing reviews and excellent reputation within the industry. Since our first investment, we’ve been satisfied with the results, which explains why we became repeat customers in the last two years.”
In May 2016, Zhiyun introduced two units of FARO’s measurement arms, and then went on to order two more in September 2016 and December 2017 respectively. At present, Zhiyun owns a total of six units of the FaroArm in varying lengths — 1.2m, 1.8m, 2.4m, 2.5m, and 3m — and they satisfy a range of measurement needs, while allowing the team to handle different measurement volumes. Small, lightweight, and extremely portable, the articulated arm CMM is easy to use and highly precise. When deployed for measurements at assembly sites, the team only requires 10 minutes from installation to inspection.
Using the FARO CAM2 software that accompanies the FaroArm.
The team at Zhiyun typically use the FaroArm in assembly projects (e.g. automotive engine assembly) and production line inspections. The overall assembly cycle typically takes around three to six months, during which FARO devices are used in various phases of inspection.
Inspecting assembly parts with a FaroArm.
At the mechanical assembly stage, the FaroArm is used in each stage of the process to conduct Geometrical Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T), to determine that the assembly adheres to the standard specified in the design. In this regard, Zhiyun appreciates the portability of the FaroArm greatly because it guides the team every step of the way, ensuring the accuracy of the assembly work, and preventing extensive rework. Once the mechanical and electromechanical assembly is completed, Zhiyun also uses the FaroArm to carry out final product acceptance and first article inspection.
Performing first article inspection with a FaroArm.
As Zhiyun places utmost importance on customer satisfaction, the team makes it a point to perform precision checks on its automation systems at delivery, once installation is complete at the customer’s facility. A few reasons are given for this: for one, the completed product must be re-measured during the handover inspection; but the greater objective is to prevent any precision errors between components. The final inspection helps ensure that the assembly line operates smoothly, and that the engine assembled on it is precise.
Often, the team would bring a FaroArm to the customer’s plant to perform acceptance checks and phase maintenance measurements. These inspections help ensure that the automated systems are in tip-top condition and can continue to reliably produce output. In these instances, the portability of the FaroArm enables the team to perform onsite measurements, while high-accuracy levels provide the customer with confidence in the quality that Zhiyun delivers.
While on-site inspections are a large part of Zhiyun’s work, a majority of required measurements are still performed in the assembly shop. Depending on the nature of the project, the FaroArm can be deployed for varying periods of time, ranging from several hours to several days of continuous use. The team at Zhiyun makes full use of its six units of FaroArm (of different lengths) to handle components of varying sizes adeptly — whether a few millimeters or several meters in size.
In terms of precision, the FaroArm easily meets the requirements of both small parts (0.02 – 0.03 mm) and machine tools (0.05 mm). Engineers who have had first-hand experiences with the FaroArm have shared that the devices are portable, easy to operate, and ideal for obtaining quick measurements. Besides, the results are more reproducible and consistent than other measurement methods, and human error is eliminated. This greatly reduces labor intensity while increasing work efficiency, resulting in very high satisfaction levels overall.
When asked if he would recommend FARO to his industry peers, Mr. Yu responded positively. Zhiyun is determined to establish itself in the computing, communication, and consumer electronics (3C) industry and the field of new energy battery automated production lines. On that note, Mr. Yu expressed, “We’re very satisfied with FARO’s solutions right now, and we hope the company will launch new products with even higher accuracy levels to reach greater heights in measurement accuracy.”
The FaroArm allows inspections to be performed right at the production line.
Established in 1992, Zhiyun is a leading solution provider of complete automation equipment in China, providing customers with automated manufacturing process systems, R&D services, and system integration services. Its technologies and products cover 95% of domestic engine manufacturers, including major automotive brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz.
Zhiyun’s excellent product quality and outstanding services has allowed it to gain favor and recognition amongst its customers. The company’s core products — automatic airtight leakage detection equipment and automated assembly equipment — rank first and third respectively in China by market share.
For more information: www.zhiyun-cn.com
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