QMT Features: July 2013
MSA for sustainable improvement
Measurement Systems Analysis confirms CMM inspection capability to support production of high precision seal rings at contract manufacturer, Preci-Spark.

Preci-Spark is a leading European contract manufacturer for the high technology industries delivering manufacturing solutions to the global market place. Established in 1960 the company employs 450 people across 6 manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom.

As a process based manufacturing specialist, Preci-Spark delivers an array of components, complex fabrications and assemblies to the aerospace and industrial markets.

As a significant step in their continual sustainable improvement campaign, Preci-Spark identified MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) to be next on their list of “things-to-do”. Dr David Scrimshire of TEC commented: “MSA tests the acceptability of inspection and gauging systems, and separates the variability of people from the equipment they are using to ensure that what is apparently being measured is actually what is present in the product!”

Preci-Spark recently won a new order to produce high precision seal rings to one its major customers. Due to the tight tolerances involved in the manufacturing process, the metrology team were unsure that their CMM would be capable of repeatability within 20% of the engineering specification.

Using MSA, they were able to determine their CMM and Part Program capability. They established that they could use the CMM to inspect this high precision part and more importantly, prove that the CMM had capability to do the job under temperature controlled conditions with correct part temperature soak time. This avoided the additional cost of expensive specialist sub-contracting, enabling Preci-Spark to maintain full control over the manufacturing process.
This has been achieved with a change in shop-floor processes. Incorporating MSA within the shop floor inspection plans is now allowing inspection personnel and process operators to only select capable gauging and measurement systems for the inspection characteristics subject to test.

How did Preci-Spark achieve this improvement in the business? It all came down to staff development. Preci-Spark selected TEC’s two day MSA course as part of its continuous improvement program to enable it to continue to deliver world class engineering solutions to our customers in the aerospace sector. The course gave the staff team the confidence and the knowledge that they are working using industry best practices. Preci-Spark aims to stay at the forefront of the aerospace sub-contracting sector and MSA is helping them to achieve that.

To ensure consistency in approach and method, Preci-Spark asked TEC Transnational to deliver their practical 2-day course at the Loughborough Facilities for inspectors and engineers from all of their sites.  “We needed to see actual results that we obtained from our own high-tech aviation components” said Jim Webster, quality engineer.  

Carl Newham , quality engineer, added: “TEC’s Master Trainer took time to develop the theory of MSA from scratch.  This made what could have been complex statistics understandable to all of us! We were able to work through several case studies to see how results can be analysed numerically and more importantly graphically”.

The second day focused on applying MSA to Preci-Spark’s own products.  “We started by using a digital micrometer and had three of our Inspectors measure ten products in random order”, Jim Webster explained.  “The results presented some unexpected findings in terms of the variation of Inspectors and the results obtained with different instruments.”

TEC then led a directed brainstorming session on key aspects of the gauging systems.  Jim Webster said: “As a team, we came up with several suggestions that included standardising the inspection process and specifying exactly there on the product the measurement is to be taken. We also experimented with different types of gauge and didn’t just rely on our efforts – we used MSA to statistically prove that sustainable improvements had been achieved”l
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