Case Studies

R&D Quality Impacts Product Quality

R&D Quality Impacts Product Quality

Yanmar Co., Ltd. (Yanmar) was founded in 1912 by Mr. Magokichi Yamaoka, who first named the company Yamaoka Hatsudoki Kosakusho. Yanmar started its business manufacturing and supplying gas engines, but later went into the core business of selling diesel engines. Since then, the company branched extensively into other services, including the production of agricultural, construction, marine and energy systems, as well as support for the fishing industry.

Right from the start, Mr. Yamaoka’s personal conviction to the Japanese saying “Grateful to serve for a better world” has been one of Yanmar’s core values. This is evident in the company’s constant pursuit for resource and energy conservation through improving efficiencies, as well as its motto — “To conserve fuel is to serve mankind”.

Part of Yanmar’s efforts in conservation is the improvement of its technology through research and development. Key to these efforts is the Yanmar Central Research Institute in Maibara City, Shiga Prefecture, set up in the year 2000 to undertake a host of research projects in energy and its related applications. The aim was to create a recycling-conscious society that will serve mankind, the environment and the Earth.

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On-site measurement
 

Technical support request from various departments

The Yanmar Central Research Institute conducts various research projects on engine technology, agricultural, marine and energy systems, and also handles requests for analytical services from various departments within the Yanmar Group.

The nature of these projects at the Central Research Institute called for 3D measurement devices as part of its technical support service. Given the lack of a temperature-controlled facility for fixed-type 3D measurement systems and needed to measure on the shop floor, Yanmar decided to opt for a portable measurement device instead.

After careful consideration of devices available in the market, Yanmar finally chose the FaroArm in 2008. FARO stood out amongst competing brands due to the ease of use of its products, which allows different operators to achieve the same accuracy. This in turn offers Yanmar the same level of quality control across departments. Since the introduction of the FaroArm, the company has used it to verify the strength of safety frames and to inspect finished prototype parts, amongst other uses.
 

Benefits with the FaroArm

Before the adoption of the FaroArm, the Central Research Institute relied on height gauges to assess welded parts in the production process. However, with this method, the part had to be fixed at a pre-determined location so as to be measured, making it a very time consuming procedure. In particular, measurement was difficult due to the warp in welded parts. Mr. Amano from the R&D Strategy Department, Engineering Administration Group said, “FaroArm can be used to measure objects of all shapes in all directions, once it is set-up properly. It is simple and convenient to use, and it reduces planning time significantly. In fact, we have managed to cut measurement times by half.”

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Quality inspection using contact measurement.

Aside from taking measurements via probing, the FaroArm is also capable of non-contact measurements. Ms. Shimizu from the Technical Support Group at Yanmar’s Technical Support Center, who is in charge of non-contact laser measurement, shared, “We used to depend on camera-type measurement devices, but it was difficult to obtain data from parts with complex shapes. The FaroArm can accommodate objects of complex shapes with no problem, and is thus ideal for use with a variety of objects.”
 

Quality Inspection using the FaroArm

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Inspect gear shape using non-contact measurement.

Since acquiring the FaroArm, Yanmar has used the device extensively. At times, the FaroArm has been required on-site at various locations. For example, the FaroArm has been used to check on the quality of parts (e.g. shape of ‘teeth’ in gears), in order to make comparisons between parts manufactured domestically and parts manufactured by partners overseas.

In addition, Yanmar also uses the FaroArm to measure the degree of deformation in parts and products caused by heat (e.g. during welding). Along the same vein, there was also a project involving the study of how strawberry planters deformed under heat inside a greenhouse.

Of special mention is one particular request from Yanmar Construction Machines in Fukuoka Prefecture to measure welding deformation. In this case, Ms. Shimizu brought the FaroArm from Shiga to Fukuoka to perform measurements. This was largely because the robot-welded construction machine part was too large to be transported. For this reason, the plant requested that the measurement be made on-site, a feat that was eventually made possible primarily because of the portability offered by the FaroArm.
 

Seeking Improvements in Quality

Of late, environmental regulations for agricultural and construction machines have gradually become more stringent. As such, this has become an important research area for Yanmar’s Central Research Institute. At the same time, as production of parts shift overseas, it has become more important for Yanmar to manage cost and quality issues. Mr. Hiasa, Manager of R&D Strategy Division, Engineering Administration Group, concluded, “Improving the quality of R&D leads to an improvement in the quality of the product itself. FaroArm is indispensable in maintaining such quality. While production cost is naturally a concern, quality is still our highest priority.”
 

YANMAR Co., LTD.

(Yanmar Central Research Institute)

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