In today’s cost-conscious environment machine operators are increasingly expected to perform routine sampling inspections on the parts they’re producing, so it makes sense to locate gauging systems right in the machining cells. As a result, gauge tables with gauges arranged in a multi-level, semi-circular layout that looks a lot like an aircraft cockpit are becoming a common sight in many plants. This design facilitates the use of computer assisted “Guided Sequence” prompting to lead the operator through the inspection process. A typical example built for a domestic auto supplier uses 48 different Marposs i-WaveTM manual wireless gauges to check 40 different features on a powertrain component and 41 features on a mating part with an average time of 12 to 15 minutes per complete test. Wireless technology was specifically chosen for this system based on the customer’s previous experience with wired gauges in a similar application. They found that cables made the gauges cumbersome and unreliable at the connections due to an accumulation of coolant contamination. Each Marposs i-WaveTM Bluetooth®-enabled wireless gauge mates with an interface handle mounted in its own charger above the table. The use of Li-Ion batteries and inductive chargers completely eliminates battery management issues. The i-Wave allows multiple variable gauging elements to be interfaced wirelessly to computers and/or electronic displays. The gauging elements themselves can be changed in a few seconds using the Marposs StarlockTM system which requires no tools. All of the non-attribute measurements are made using the i-Wave with different gauging elements. To use the system an operator places the part in a fixture on the gauge table and enters his or her identity code and codes for the machine and fixture that produced the part. The fixture accommodates both components in the family, which only have to be turned over once to measure all features. With the part in place and the data entered, the system goes into a “Guided Sequence” mode that displays a 3-D image of the part along with visual and written prompts for the operator to follow in performing the inspection. All gauges are mastered at the beginning of each shift, and individual gauges can be re-mastered during the shift if questions exist. While older technologies require both min and max masters, the Marposs software needs only a mean master which greatly simplifies and speeds up the mastering process and reduces cost. Data collection and “Guided Sequence” operations are performed by a Marposs E-9066 industrial computer. A standard Marposs Quick SPC package was programmed to communicate with the plant’s QC-CALC system used for long-term data analysis. It took operators less than 4 hours to get comfortable with the wireless technology which has effectively doubled their gauging productivity compared to similar wired systems in the plant. The experience has produced a strong preference for the new wireless approach. Additionally, the system flexibility can readily accommodate future changes or additions to the gauges.
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