High-Tech Engineering, a precision engineering company, has always focused on the quality of the parts it produces. Now with its latest addition, a Renishaw Equator gauging system, it is reaching 100% part inspection and zero scrap whilst halving the operator requirements and reducing part production costs by 27%.
Started in 1985 by Managing Director, Steve Tickner, High-Tech Engineering built a reputation in the motorsport industry for delivering high quality machined parts. The company has since moved into the aerospace sector and gained some key industry approvals, including becoming a preferred supplier to Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.
Recently High-Tech won a contract to produce precision milled titanium parts for a large aerospace customer. Due to the nature of the parts, High-Tech was instructed to carry out 100% part inspection.
Tickner explained, “We knew from the start that we would need to find an inspection method which could not only meet the cycle time requirements for the part, but would be a cost effective solution for us as well. Relying on the CMM we already had wasn’t going to be an option. We couldn’t risk any bottlenecks. We knew that we would either need another CMM or something else which could give us the measuring capacity. That’s what led us to the Renishaw Equator.”
It was through a simple internet search that Tickner came to learn of the Equator gauging system. After some research and following meetings with representatives from Renishaw, High-Tech was impressed with what the Equator gauging system could offer, and was particularly pleased with the overall price of the system.
The Equator gauging system is used to gauge around 150 features including a number of bores, thicknesses and form measurements on the part with typical tolerances of ±25 μm. The Equator gauging system does this within 10 minutes and well within the production requirements, far less than the machining time. This is almost a 50% reduction in cycle time compared to running the program on High-Tech’s CMMs.
Tickner explained the advantages of Renishaw’s Equator “…a co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) with a temperature controlled environment was far too big to be practical. The Equator suited the space perfectly as it’s a compact machine. The added bonus is the fact it is thermally insensitive and doesn’t require any air supply, meaning we didn’t need to spend additional time, money and effort putting in another temperature controlled room or extra piping.”
The Renishaw Equator works by comparing the manufactured parts against a matching master part, gauging all the features in a single operation with an immediate pass/fail decision, along with a report of the component dimensions. The Equator system is fully programmable and can be used on multiple parts, meaning High-Tech Engineering can perform highly repeatable and rapid automated routines across numerous contracts resulting in significantly reduced labor costs.
Tickner also related the Equator’s ease-of-use. “All of the operators can use Equator. It really is easy; just load the part and push the button. It completely simplifies the process and frees up manpower, which in turn helps to deliver ROI very rapidly for the cell.”
High-Tech has managed to reduce the cost of producing the aerospace part by 27% with the Equator gauging system being a factor in that. Tickner explained the Equator has saved time, effort and expense.
“Since we started using Equator we have not made a single bad part. The Equator is allowing the operators to operate complete process control. They all look at the Process Monitor screen, part of the Equator software, which lists all of the features being gauged. Next to the feature name there is a little bar which turns from green to amber to red as the size or location for each feature begins to drift. The operators know which tool on the machine is responsible for each feature and so can take corrective measures to occasionally tweak the process, to come back well within tolerance. As we carry out 100% inspection, it would be very hard to make a part wrong.” He continues, “We are also using the gauge data to trial different types of tool, to see which gives us the best level of efficiency – something which might save us more money in the future.”