As an engineer or quality control manager working with small parts, your focus on time and precise measurement could make a Swiss watchmaker jealous. Time is money, and more importantly, precision is safety. A common problem faced with part inspection is the lack of speed with calipers, micrometers, Go and No-GO gauges, CMMs and others. This type of operational log-jam is why engineers at Fastener Depot of Diamond Springs, Calif., decided they needed to streamline the inspection process for their business.
Fastener Depot provides inserts/studs and fasteners from manufacturers for end-use in the aerospace, defense and OEM sectors. Once Fastener Depot obtains parts from a fastener manufacturer, their team reviews all the certifications and specifications. The team makes sure the correct materials were used, counts and inspects the parts and checks that they are all free of dings or foreign objects.
To increase accuracy and reduce inspection time, inspectors at Fastener Depot began to use the Keyence Image Dimension Measurement (IM) System. After entering the part specifications into the system, they place a part on the IM System’s stage, press a button and measure up to 99 points in 3 sec. The system then compares the measurements to the specifications and the data are stored for reporting.
What once could take you 10 min or more can now be done in 3 sec. The system uses a lens that provides a wide field of view and has an auto-focus capability to ensure the part is always in focus regardless of height differences. With the IM system, you can batch measure multiple parts at the same time. Charlie Criddle, quality manager for Fastener Depot, described the change to the automated IM System.
“Before, the inspectors manually measured each individual segment or dimension of the parts using micrometers and Go and No-Go gauges then compared each measurement to the drawings. With the IM system, we enter the specifications for a part into the machine and measures all dimensions in one swoop. Now, we can look at 10 pieces in a matter of seconds, compared to minutes doing it manually.”
Once you have the part specifications, what you do with the information can greatly increase efficiency. The IM system instantly stores the specifications for each part in its database. This function is especially helpful when you’re inspecting repeat parts from the same source. This was an important consideration when Fastener Depot decided to choose the Keyence machine. Not every customer has the same demands.
“One customer might require 10% of its products be inspected, while another wants every single piece measured.”
Printable reports that identify minimums, maximums and averages; easily make comparisons; identify problems and communicate with manufacturers also takes some of the busy work out of the process.