QMT Features: October 2010
Precision-driven growth
Speed, accuracy, reliability and flexibility are just some of the pre-requisites Velden Engineering Group demand from its measurement technology  to stay ahead of the competition.

Velden Engineering Group claim to provide the Northwest’s largest range of engineering skills and disciplines. CNC and conventional plant and equipment backed up by CAD CAM technology and in house logistics on one site enables them to offer highly competitive prices, on time deliveries and quality.

 The Group, based in Bolton, supply machined and fabricated components for most industries from power generation and switchgear, through to medical, scientific and general manufacturing. In addition, they work closely with OEMs - small, medium and large enterprises - from concept and prototyping through to full production.  Velden Engineering Group has a successful track record of setting up manufacturing cells for special project work due to customer factory re-organisation and other cost saving initiatives.

Essentially, the Group provide extensive machining capacity and resource.  With overtime and shifts, Velden can easily make available up to 10,000 hours per month - which has often saved their customers from situations where tight deadlines needed to be met.

To fulfil the significant increase in orders and expand capacity,  the Velden workshop area has been doubled at their Bolton factory and the employee numbers increased by 20%.  Over £1M of new plant and equipment has been recently installed including 2 new OKUMA HMC600 HB machining centres and now an additional Mitutoyo CNC co-ordinate measuring machine is due to be installed.

Quality control
The quality policy within Velden Engineering Group involves every employee in a Total Quality approach. Believing in the concept that you “cannot inspect quality into a product” and that responsibility for quality rests with each and every individual in the company, Velden operate its quality assurance system according to BS EN ISO 9001:2008. Quality manager Andy Wood explains, “We are continually searching for improvement, not just in our methods, products and processes, but the quality of the service, procedures and relationships with our customers, making the commitment to putting quality first. Total Quality is a way of life at Velden.”

Mitutoyo's relationship with Velden began 25 years ago when purchased their first CMM, a model B231. A second followed in 2006, a Mitutoyo BHN305. Earlier this year, due to an increase in orders and ever-tighter component tolerances, Andy established the need for an additional CMM for their quality room. This was to provide a larger measurement capacity as well as improved measurement accuracies.

After discussing their requirements with Mitutoyo CMM team, it was decided that the Crysta Apex C9106 best suited their needs.  The Crysta Apex bridge type range is a modular system, configurable to requirements, which will allow Velden the option to upgrade to meet future requirements. With a guaranteed accuracy of 1.7microns, it features an integrated thermal-effect  compensation,  both for instrument and work piece, in the temperature range of 16 degrees to 26 degrees C. Maximum drive speed is 520 mm/s and maximum acceleration is 0.23g. Other design features include self-adjusting airbearings on all axes and fully digitised servo-control for low vibration movements.

Software suite
The Crysta Apex CMM comes with the standard Mitutoyo MCOSMOS 1 software, This  has been developed on the MICAT suite of metrology software which facilitates enterprise-wide integration of products such as MeasurLink, ScanPak, VisionPak and MCMSMOS. Mitutoyo recommended that Velden select the optional CAT1000P package to enable their programmers to generate CMM programs from CAD models supplied by their customers.  CAT100P eliminates the time consuming task of data input from paper, allowing the CMM to work in a paperless environment. All data for measuring parts and tolerance evaluations is taken from the CAD model via pointing devices (such as a mouse or tracker ball) selection.

The same principle applies for the programming of probe paths (clearance and measurement), whilst at the same time, using the nominals of the CAD model for tolerance comparison to the measured actuals. Probe paths are displayed graphically in a 3D view and may be changed as needed with a single click of a button. Any possible collisions or obstructions are calculated in advance and automatically avoided. With Automatic Probe Selection enabled, the optimal probe stylus orientation is selected for maximum clearance

A key CMM operator and programmer aid is Mitutoyo’s MachineBuilder. This is a visualisation tool which creates a graphical representation of the CMM with its accessories.  It is a complete workspace from which to operate, displaying user-specific CMM, probe/changer system, calibration sphere and part/fixture in 3D. This allows realistic simulation before any measurements are taken and which can be performed  online and offline to the CMM. Mitutoyo CMM specialist, Paul Spencer, explained that when they were specifying the CMM for Velden, one of the key aims that Andy emphasised was to improve on their customer turnaround times. “CAT1000P  suits their needs perfectly. Using geometric elements directly from a CAD model, it allows for both online and offline part program creation. Inspection programs can be written before the component has even been made, thus speeding up the process and giving Velden's customers a quicker turnaround.”

Process control
To complement Velden’s in-house developed Enterprise software system, ‘Vmans Live’, the company has also opted for Mitutoyo MeasurLink as an aid to evaluating their manufacturing process control systems. MeasurLink supports a variety of statistical process functions based on the statistical method described in QS-9000, which defines standards for quality control in the automotive industry. MeasurLink combines real-time on-line data collection from the CMMs showing SPC charts, GO/NOGO judgements and analysis on process capabilities for operators.  It can provide supervisor reports and alerts, including e-mail alerts, for entire manufacturing systems, which will not only allowing Velden to give their customers the confidence and statistical data they require, but will also be a useful tool in improving their quality and manufacturing processes. “By using MeasurLink, which is ideal for integrated networks, Velden will be able to create a quality information sharing system making it a comprehensive metrology solution,” said Paul Spencer.l
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