QMT Features: May 2007
Competitive edge
A versatile, multisensor vision system sharpens up measurement capability at Stanley Tools

Stanley Tools UK based in Rotherham is a division of The Stanley Works, a global manufacturer and marketer of more than 20,000 different hand tools, hardware and security products for professional, industrial and consumer use. The Group employs 17,600 staff and has worldwide sales of around $3.3 billion.

The company has manufacturing plants worldwide, including the US, Mexico, France, China and the UK. The Rotherham site employs around 350 staff and manufactures chiefly knife blades, screwdrivers and chisels. Also based in Rotherham are the Engineering & Technology team, which is responsible for the design & development of all cutting & clamping products, and the European Test Laboratory.

Billy Redpath, manager of the Test Laboratory at Rotherham comments: “In the laboratory here, we work on a wide variety of things - R&D projects, new product development and competitor evaluation for the E&T department, product testing for European Procurement and Quality and we also support the manufacturing plant. We  are currently in the process of getting UKAS accreditation for several of our standard tests. 

Around 18 months ago, as part of Stanley’s ongoing quest for product excellence, it was decided that the Laboratory needed to improve its measurement capability. The Lab was relying on traditional instruments like Vernier callipers, micrometers, DTI’s, go/no-go gauges and a shadowgraph. These were OK for much of what they did but could not be used for things like measurement of angles on a multi-faceted saw tooth or grind radii on a Pozidriv screwdriver tip. Also, measuring large numbers of the same component could be a very repetitive and time consuming task, plus there were sometimes issues with the levels of accuracy that could be achieved,” adds Redpath.

Stanley looked at several different measuring machines, but after several demonstrations, the company chose to purchase an OGP SmartScope ZIP 250 video measuring machine, including a maintenance and servicing contract,” explains Redpath.

The SmartScope ZIP 250 is a high throughput, high accuracy benchtop video measurement machine. Enhanced edge detection and auto-focus algorithms, patented ‘SmartRing’ programmable LED illumination and advanced zoom optics ensure that part characteristics and dimensional integrity are measured to micron-level accuracies.

Stanley’s SmartScope machine includes multi-sensor measurement capabilities with non-contact Laser and Renishaw touch probe functionality. MeasureMind 3D software allows all geometry to be measured, with a combination of deployed sensors in one seamless operation.

MeasureMind 3D also incorporates a CAD export and Import facility for reverse engineering or CAD to Part analysis. As Redpath points out: “The machine is easy to use and can be adapted to suit our many different measurement tasks.. What I really like about the machine is that when we take measurements, it stores and creates the programme while you’re doing it. For similar parts that we measure over and over again, we get a huge productivity improvement here. Other machines we’ve used, we’ve had to spend a lot of time creating the programme first before we can do any measuring tasks. We particularly like the inspection reports that the software generates that indicate whether measurements are in, out or close to tolerance.”

The Stanley Laboratory utilises all three measurement functions: the video image measurement, with up to 203x magnification, is used for a wide variety of applications from screwdriver tip measurement to checking the accuracy of the divisions on tapes and rules; the touch probe is used for three-dimensional work, such as quality checking the dimensional accuracy of knife castings; and the laser is used for applications such as scanning handle surface profiles and knife blade grind angles.

A key benefit is the flexibility of being able to use all three measurement functions in a single programme. As Redpath concludes: “The software also includes an automatic edge trace function, which is very popular with the Lab, as it means the machine can automatically trace the outline of a component in a fraction of the time it takes to manually measure all the individual lines and arcs.” l

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