Shop Floor Evolution

When I started in the shop, machine tools were dumber than fence rails. Load the paper tape, adjust the rheostats for feedrate and spindle speed, click, click, click the offset thumbwheels, push cycle start and pray. Programs were keyed into a Teletype machine; when changes were needed, the printout was redlined and sent back to[…]

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Machine-integrated inspection systems can improve quality, profitability

Stopping a machine to measure a workpiece is a waste of time. Not only is a high-priced piece of CNC equipment being taken out of production, but the measurements obtained when a machinist leans into a machine with a micrometer or bore gage can’t compare in accuracy to those generated by a coordinate measuring machine[…]

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See Me, Feel Me

My granddaughter loves her Touch and Feel books. They’re filled with fuzzy animals and gaily-coloured creatures. My grandson enjoys jigsaw puzzles, patiently maneuvering the pieces into place by sight and touch. Imagine him doing so while wearing mittens, or that darling girl reading those children’s books with the bits of cloth and plastic shapes removed.[…]

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Looking for trouble: Is your coordinate measuring machine up to snuff?

Often abused and generally unappreciated, coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are the underdog of the machining world. That’s because, unlike their metal-cutting cousins, CMMs don’t actually produce anything. No chips, no shiny machined parts, nothing but measurements and statistics. But remove the lowly CMM from any shop and you’ll be checking parts with height gauges and[…]


Programming Quality – Knowledge is just as important as the program when measuring with an automated CMM

Clamp the part to the surface plate. Enter a few parameters. Grab the joystick and go. When checking a hole location, or measuring the distance between two machined surfaces, that’s about all you need to know in terms of coordinate measuring machine (CMM) operation. Unfortunately, most inspection procedures are more complex, and good metrology requires[…]

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The Biggest Constraint: A Ghostly Tale of Quality Management

Ever since that big investment firm acquired us last year, Spacely’s Space Sprockets has been struggling. I can’t blame the investors. They provided an infusion of much needed cash, brought in a pair of high-tech, multi-axis machining centres, and agreed to replace our aging ERP system. At their request, we’d even brought in an efficiency[…]

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Get in Line: Machine all the parts you want, you still have to inspect them

Much of today’s manufacturing environment calls for low volume orders of complex parts. Linear pallet systems and robotic part handling allow shops to set up dozens of jobs and run them after everyone’s gone home for the day. Unless your inspector likes to work nights, you’re sure to have a big pile of parts waiting[…]

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Where’s Your Hammer: Using Lean and Six Sigma to pick more than low-hanging fruit

Maybe you want to implement a quality system. You buy a book or talk to a consultant but immediately run into a mountain of strange terminology. Kaizen Events and Six Sigma. DMAIC Methods and 5S. You thought Value Stream Mapping was a cheaper way to drive somewhere, and the closest you’ve come to Lean is[…]

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Look where you’re going: Automated vision machines measure parts quickly and accurately

If you have a handful of parts to check, you’ll probably pick up a micrometer. If you’re going to measure a truckload of them, however, only an automated solution will do. But measurement systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and offer more options than a new car. Deciding which one is best[…]