Wagon Automotive is large European automotive supplier of car body structures and closures that include impact management systems, sliding doors and closure mechanisms, and hinges. The company’s current U.S. manufacturing is located in Wixom, Mich.
As the number of vehicle programs that Wagon Automotive has been selected to supply has increased, the need for CMM measuring capability became critical.
Mick Burns, Wagon Automotive’s senior quality engineer, facility points out that the company had only a few programs when it first was established in the U.S., so it could not justify the expense of having an in-house CMM.
“We had a number of contract measuring sources located nearby, so our needs were being met. However, as our business has expanded, we could not afford to have the requirements of CMM measuring become an issue in meeting delivery schedules. As a result, the decision was made to budget a capital expenditure for a CMM, and I was given the task of purchasing the best CMM that would meet our particular needs,” Burns said. The company had a number of criteria that presented restrictions on its purchase, though.
“First, the budget was not at a high enough level to justify a new machine.
“Secondly, we needed a machine that could be located on-the-factory-floor so fork trucks could be used to load and unload the checking fixtures that we needed to measure and verify, and we needed an enclosure to isolate the machine.
“Third, because of the use of the fork trucks, we preferred a machine with a steel bed plate instead of granite, so any inadvertent damage to the plate would be minimal, and easy to repair.
“Fourth, we wanted a software package that was easy to learn and training would be convenient for our operators,” Burns said.
The company’s search included the Internet, where it Xspect Solutions, Inc. (www.xspectsolutions.com), a subsidiary of CMM builder Wenzel, that provides of rebuilt and remanufactured CMMs. The fact that Xspect Solutions also is located in Wixom helped to lead to a visit with Keith Mills, president of Xspect Solutions. Xspect Solutions has more than 80 rebuilt —‘Xsperienced’ — CMMs on display, and it offers a variety of types of rebuild and remanufacturing programs for CMMs made by a number of OEMs.
Mills said his company recommended a Sheffield RS150 CMM for Wagon Automotive because it fit the company’s requirements for a steel base plate and a table size that could handle the range of sizes of automotive door frame checking fixtures that Wagon Automotive required.
The remanufacturing program included an extensive 100-point service check, a new paint scheme, new PH10T/TP20 Renishaw touch trigger probes, a new Wenzel controller and OpenDMIS software. Xspect Solutions works closely with Modular Tooling Systems, which helped it to provide the on-the-factory-floor, temperaturecontrolled CMM enclosure that Wagon Automotive required.
Acknowledging that the use of CMMs requires full software and support, Burns said he initially felt that it was risky to buy a CMM with old software from a traditional used equipment dealer.
However, he added: “At Xspect Solutions, they took all the risk out.”
“Unlike other types of manufacturing equipment, the original CMM frames never wear out, and in most cases the older machines are manufactured to a higher degree than some of today’s new CMMs,” Burns said, adding that he felt confident that the software upgrade for the machine established it at industry benchmark levels. In addition, part the package Wagon Automotive included three days of training on the software.