Removing the “Programming” from Part Inspection Programs
Sep 11, 2019
Removing the “Programming” from Part Inspection Programs

Production bottlenecks happen. Picture a funnel filled with small pebbles. When the pebbles enter the neck of the funnel, they jam together and very few escape. Just like the pebbles in a funnel, when one production station produces more than a subsequent station, everything gets jammed up and the production line slows down.

For the manufacturing industry, metrology is the narrow neck of the production funnel. Several factors contribute to this bottleneck:
  • The slower speed of measuring parts with tactile probes.
  • Time spent moving parts between multiple metrology systems to perform disparate measurements.
  • The days to weeks often required to develop part inspection plans for a traditional CMM using a complex programming language.

The programmer is not to blame for the last delay; that bottleneck is a direct result of the software tools those programmers must use to create a part inspection plan. In developing the ZeroTouch® platform and the software driving it, DWFritz delivers a superior set of software tools to simply and efficiently create part inspection plans (PiP).

Graphical PiP Creation

Unlike traditional touch-probe CMMs and other metrology tools, ZeroTouch performs inspections based on the part’s characteristics, so part inspection plans are programmed to scan the entire surface rather than discrete points. Programmers import a 3D CAD model of the part into DWFritz PiP and then, using a simple, graphical interface, they can select and associate the ZeroTouch sensors needed for inspection with the desired features. PiPs can be saved as strategies and used as a template for part families, requiring only minor modifications to account for differences within the part family rather than creating entirely new PiPs. The graphical, point-and-click solution minimizes operator errors by removing the need for highly skilled programmers, and speeds up the initial plan development time.

Traditional proofing and troubleshooting of a CMM part program occurs on an actual system, with the part on the machine. This approach can lead to additional delays as the update/test cycle drags on. Potential damage to the part also can happen during these tests. ZeroTouch, on the other hand, enables proofing of the PiP offline via software simulation. This eliminates any potential part damage while keeping the machine available to perform actual measurements, increasing overall throughput. Additionally, by separating PiP development and simulation from the actual machine, multiple PiPs can be created concurrently, all while the machine is running measurements on other parts.

Once created, running an inspection program on ZeroTouch is a simple, three-step process:

  1. Place the part on the platen.
  2. Select the desired part inspection program.
  3. Run the program.

While creating the initial PiP will require some degree of CAD and part inspection experience, ZeroTouch allows an operator with minimal skill or training to actually run the inspection program. Once complete, quality assurance reports are automatically generated and associated with each part inspected.

Industry 4.0 is Here

Advanced automation technologies built on intelligent platforms use IoT, AI, machine learning, and big data to enhance and augment the manufacturing process. By integrating this intelligent network of connected, automated systems, industry 4.0 offers an opportunity to add inline metrology systems, such as ZeroTouch.

Once the PiPs are created and installed on the ZeroTouch system, automated machines can select the appropriate PiP to inspect the current manufacturing run, and then switch to a different pre-created PiP when the run switches to a different product. This flexibility brings measurement and inspection to the factory floor, reducing delays in the inspection process when switching between product runs and improving overall productivity.

In addition, an inline metrology system adds a robust stream of real-time inspection data. By generating millions of data points for each part, the ZeroTouch system can detect potential defects earlier in the manufacturing run, before a small problem becomes exponentially expensive to resolve.

Learn more about ZeroTouch®, a high-speed non-contact multipurpose metrology platform that simultaneously measures multiple part features and complex geometries as well as surface topology.

DWFritz Automation LLC