QMT Features: March 2014
Speeding up inspection at a UK foundry

 Non-contact measurement has cut inspection times from 30 hours to 4

Hadleigh Castings is one of the UK’s leading aluminium foundries, with a modern, highly efficient production facility that is capable of producing precision sand casting and gravity die casting to very close tolerances.
The high standard of work produced by Hadleigh Castings has enabled the company to develop an international client base across industries that include aerospace, automotive, rail, marine and defence, as well as the test and measurement sectors.

Given the nature of its customers, Hadleigh Castings has to administer an exacting quality regime and operates a quality management system which is approved and certified to BS EN ISO 9001:2008 and the International Railway Industry Standard [IRIS Rev2]. It is currently working towards AS9100 Rev C.
To enable the company to achieve the standards agreed with its customers, throughout all production processes Hadleigh Castings uses a range of modern analytical, measuring, testing and inspection equipment. In-house facilities include material testing, pressure testing, and inspection by CNC coordinate measuring machines and endoscopes, as well as ultrasonic and dye penetrant NDT.

Inspection staff exercise control of all aspects of production and maintain documentation which is held for statutory periods to demonstrate traceability. The quality department also has final responsibility for dispatch; ensuring components are suitably protected, packed and correctly documented in accordance with Purchase Order requirements.

As a result of a rapidly increasing order book, the company was concerned about the possibility of processing work through its metrology suite, so it looked around for a suitable technology that would not only enhance its measuring capability, but would also speed-up the company’s inspection throughput.

Robin Mills, business standards manager at Hadleigh Castings explained: “Having looked at several alternative systems that could further improve our quality function and help to increase the flow of our inspection work, we decided to purchase an Edge ScanArm system from Faro. Compared to the other available systems, the ScanArm proved to be the ideal tool for product development, inspection and quality control functions. We were very impressed by the Faro system’s ability to perform point cloud comparison with CAD, rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, and 3D modelling of free-from surfaces.

He added: “Although the Faro operating system is very straight forward, our learning curve was helped by the excellent training we had from our Faro sales engineer. Now in regular use on raw castings, ranging from a few grams to over 300 kilograms, the flexibility, ease of use, remarkable speed and great accuracy of the Faro ScanArm means that in future we also intend to use it on machined components.

“Adopting non-contact measurement techniques has considerably speeded-up our 1st article measuring process and significantly reduced our new products’ time to market. An example of the considerable time advantages that we have gained through the use of our Faro ScanArm is the regular detailed inspection that we undertake on a very complex casting. Previously, the painstaking, very precise inspection routine took us over 30 hours to complete. Now, with the use of our Faro Edge ScanArm, we are able to accomplish the complex task with improved levels of accuracy in less than 4 hours” pointed out the Hadleigh Castings Business Standards Manager.

“Given our ever shorter project lead-times, the ScanArm will be utilised to fast track, confirmation of the dimensional alignment of new or modified sample parts against the customer supplied 3D models. Also, as Faro’s software uses graduated colour graphics to indicate the tolerance condition of components’ features, in addition to tabulated reports, we are now also able to supply customised reports containing detailed graphical information,” said Mr Mills.

Advanced non-contact measurement devices are becoming increasingly popular throughout the world across a wide range of industries. Handheld laser scanners provide a quick and effective way to inspect and reverse engineer complex parts and surfaces. The technology is easy to use and can turn everyday objects into digital computer models. Soft, deformable, and complex shapes can be easily inspected – all without ever coming in contact with the part.

Robin Mills concludes. “In addition to improving our accuracy capability, the speed of operation of our new Faro ScanArm has enabled us to significantly speed-up our inspection processes. The man hours saved by the use of the Faro Edge ScanArm will ensure that our return on investment time will be even faster than first estimated.”
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