QMT Features: September 2015
Express delivery for massive oil parts
A supersized CMM is helping a Gateshead, UK, manufacturer measure large oil and gas components

Contract manufacturer Express Engineering has installed a massive co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) to undertake the rapid and accurate inspection of large oil and gas components. To enable oversize components to stand upright when being measured, the CMM was modified by an extended Z axis and a 1.2m diameter hole bored through its granite measuring table.

The machine, a Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex C with a 2000mm by 4005mm by 2005mm measuring volume, is the largest machine ever sold by Mitutoyo UK. Established in 1973, Express Engineering has grown from its origins as a precision engineering and tool-making company become a contract manufacturing group with a global reach. It supplies the oil and gas market with a wide range of highly integrated precision machined components, kits of parts and fully assembled pressure tested products, including wellheads, Christmas tree valves, manifolds, completions, tooling, flowlines and connections.

Given their critical nature and the environments they operate in, the quality of the products is paramount. So, in addition to regular in-process, on-machine checks, comprehensive final inspection routines performed by a range of inspection aids, including Mitutoyo CMMs that are located strategically throughout the Gateshead facility.

This recently installed Mitutoyo CMM is an adapted version of a large capacity Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex C, model 204020. To enable oversize components to stand upright when being measured, the CMM was modified by an extended Z axis and a 1.2m diameter hole bored through its granite measuring table. Riser plates were fitted to elevate the granite table and a lower component support was located beneath the hole. These modifications enable extra-large components such as 2-metre high, 4-tonne wellheads to be lowered by crane through the table and accurately measured at a single setting.

Express Engineering quality manager Bill Mole said: “Previous to purchasing our new Mitutoyo CMM, to inspect our increasing range of larger components with demanding dimensional tolerances, such as wellheads that stand 2 meters high, we would make a partial inspection on one of our larger CMMs, then reposition the component to complete the inspection routine.

“Although our previous inspection techniques were accurate, the volume of wellheads, and other large oil& gas industry components we now manufacture, meant that we needed to find a quicker, more efficient solution.

“Now, in addition to further improving our already excellent large-component accuracy capability, our new CMM has enabled us to slash our inspection times on components such as wellheads. For instance, a comprehensive final inspection routine on a complex wellhead that previously took over 12 hours, now takes just 4 hours.

“Not only does our new CMM help us to adhere to the most challenging of component lead times, it is a perfect example of Express Engineering’s continuing commitment to ensuring the highest standards of manufactured quality.”

Particularly important for Express Engineering, due to the in-depth report requirements and traceability demands of the global oil and gas industry, is Mitutoyo’s user-defined report generation software. Supplied as standard with all Mitutoyo CMMs, the flexible function allows reports to be created in a range of formats including PDF, HTML and JPEG.
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