Assembly in Action: CAD-based Inspection Cuts Fabrication Times
November 27, 2007
Founded in 1978, Rayco Manufacturing Inc. (Wooster, OH) manufactures a range of different equipment for the landscaping industry, including stump cutters, mowers and brush chippers.
Founded in 1978, Rayco Manufacturing Inc. (Wooster, OH) manufactures a range of different equipment for the landscaping industry, including stump cutters, mowers and brush chippers. Much of Rayco’s work involves cutting and welding steel to form the basic structure of these machines.
Recently, to help accommodate increased production volumes and a growing product line, company engineers decided they needed to improve the consistency of the company’s steel fabrications, assuring their quality from the first laser cut through final assembly.
The company was already using solid modeling and finite element analysis to help design its products. So it decided to try directly linking up its design and manufacturing data to close the loop and prevent variation.
With this in mind, Rayco invested in PowerINSPECT software from the CADCAM software company Delcam Inc. (Windsor, Ontario) and a CimCore Stinger II portable coordinate measuring arm with accuracy of 0.004 inch from metrology equipment manufacturer Romer Inc. (Wixom, MI). The system allows Rayco to systematically verify its welding fixtures, as well as check key locations and weldments where run outs or concentricities are critical.
“It saves us many hours, and we get more information about our production faster, so we can make adjustments quickly and accurately,” says Rayco quality assurance engineer Roger Timmons. “That’s a clear competitive advantage for us.”
According to Timmons, a key feature of the system is its simple and intuitive user interface, which makes the system easy to learn and operate. Onscreen feedback and detailed graphical displays provide immediate feedback for each measured point. Any discrepancies can be identified at a glance. The Romer arm not only locates specific inspection points, it also serves as a kind of “mouse” during inspection routines, making it easy to track progress. Inspection reports can be generated automatically in a customized format to include pictorial, tabulated and statistical data.
“I like being able to import our 3D Solidworks models directly into [the softeware] and overlay what we measure right with the model, which reveals immediately where any discrepancies may be,” Timmons says. “Five minutes with PowerINSPECT saves an hour out on the assembly floor.”
To make the process even faster, Rayco engineers are creating a library of the company’s welding fixtures-virtual masters-which Timmons will be able to use to audit fixtures on a 90-day rotating basis. Because the system is highly portable, it can be moved throughout Rayco’s 390,000-sqaure-foot manufacturing plant as needed.
The end result is not only greater inspection efficiency, but also an overall increase in quality assurance. Three years ago, Rayco didn’t even have a dedicated quality department. Now quality is an integral part of every aspect of the company’s production process.
“Today, we inspect critical parts and all fixtures on an audit basis,” Timmons says. “We inspect cutter wheels-the focal point of Rayco machine’s tree or stump cutting function-and check for machining accuracy, which helps us put out a high quality, high functioning product for our customers. We also use the machine for troubleshooting out on the assembly floor to determine why a part may not be fitting perfectly, before it goes to assembly. We can do this in about 10 minutes, a time savings of up to 1,000 percent compared to a manual method.”
For more on inspection and verification software, call 877-335-2261 or visit www.delcam.com.
For more on metrology equipment, call 800-218-7125 of visit www.cimcore.com.