FGP Precision Engineering Ltd.
"Equator™ allows an operator to quickly and easily check a part between ops".
"Impressive" in process part measurement
Once FGP had addressed the issue of machine accuracy and final inspection, Nigel Manning turned his attention to in-process checking. During a visit to Renishaw he was introduced to the company's new Equator gauging system and was, as he recalls, “very impressed”, leading to it being added to FGP's increasing arsenal of quality control options.
“Renishaw's Equator is a small, bench-top system that allows an operator to quickly and easily check a part between ops”, explains Mr Manning. “The idea isn't that you inspect every feature, it's that you pick those features that control the process. So, if you're drilling a particular hole twenty times with the same tool, you inspect, say, the first, second and last, which, if they're correct, should give you the confidence to say that the others are also machined correctly.
The Equator's innovative gauging technology is based on the traditional comparison of dimensions on a production part, relative to a reference, master part.
Re-mastering is as quick and easy as measuring a production part, and Equator immediately compensates for any thermal effects, returning accurate data, as if collected in a temperature-controlled quality room.
Simon Griffith-Hughes also gives his thoughts on the benefits to FGP's 5-axis machining operation: “We didn't purchase the Renishaw Equator to take the place of the PH20 but it is to give us another inspection opportunity on the shop floor, to help us quickly double-check and re-check the fine points of the part we are making.
This way we do not have to keep running to the inspector to ask him to check out a dimension. When the parts come off the machine we simply put it on the Equator and we immediately know if we have a problem.”
The compact Equator versatile gauging system is out of the box, up-and-running, in less than 20 minutes. The gauge weighs just 25 kg, requires single-phase power, and doesn't need a costly, compressed air supply.
The intuitive, operator-friendly front-end software requires little or no training and the optimised ratio of working envelope to machine-footprint means the Renishaw Equator can be employed in even the most crowded factory.
Scrap down, order book up
The combined benefits of the new, company-wide culture of quality, as well as the investment in the latest Renishaw technology has resulted in a dramatic decrease in FGP's annual rate of scrap. As Nigel Manning details, “For the first eleven months of 2011, we were down to 4.9% of the overall volume, which means we've more than halved the monetary value of scrap in the first year of using the new Renishaw equipment. For the first quarter of 2012, our current reject rate is tracking at 2.5% of the total ouput.”
However, the benefits of an increased focus on quality are also being felt in the company's sales, as FGP's CEO Allan Edwards, concludes: “Our order book is currently the largest we've ever had in the history of the company. I put this down to the fact that our customers are very pleased with our quality and delivery. I believe that technology is important in improving quality, but we also have to make sure people buy-in to our quality goals; to make sure they are taking ownership and checking their work as they go along. The Renishaw equipment is easy to use and reliable, which makes the task that much easier.”