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Wide-Area CMM Promotes Shop’s Diversification

July 21, 2022
Coastal Machine & Supply emphasizes precision and accuracy in the parts it supplies to oil-and-gas sector customers, but a new coordinate measuring machine has put the aerospace market into its range.

Coastal Machine & Supply in Carencro, Louisiana, is a 37,200 ft2 (3,456 m2) precision machine shop with multiple CNC machining centers and lathes it uses to produce custom parts for oil-and-gas sector customers. It has 50 employees and prides itself on the quality, accuracy, and precision of its parts – but it had plans to do more.

Component quality is a primary goal of Coastal Machine, which guarantees defect-free products to its customers. The shop is certified to ISO9001 and AS9100 Rev D, registered to API Q1 and ITAR, and carries two API threading licenses.

“While we’ve always served the oil-and-gas industry, over the past two years we’ve consciously been diversifying into other markets, including aerospace and defense, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic and how it affected the oil-and-gas sector,” explained operations manager Kody Guidry.

An established part of Coastal Machine’s business is producing long downhole oil-and-gas parts, some of which can be up to 240 inch (6 m) long.

“Historically, we measured the overall length of these components using a tape measure or by stacking up scales,” Guidry explained. “However, for one contract we sent some parts to a premium threading shop, and they were using a Keyence WM series wide-area CMM – which immediately sparked our interest.”

The shop contacted Keyence for a demonstration.

“It was an easy decision to invest as we knew immediately that we could easily check our long parts to tight tolerances far more easily than with hand tools,” Guidry said. “Today, we use a macro in the WM for checking overall length, which takes the operator through the measurement process in a simple and user-friendly way.”

Scanning large parts

With its 32.8-ft (10-m) measuring range, the Keyence WM series wide-area CMM is a far better option for large parts than a CMM arm, bridge CMM, laser tracker or hand tools, all of which have a restricted measurement area and require highly trained operators; it’s difficult for a single person to carry out an inspection. Maintenance costs can be high, too.

The shop-floor-ready, portable WM series performs precision measurement via its triple-camera tracking system that captures near-infrared light emitted by seven probe markers. As a result, users benefit from a high-accuracy of ±28 μm (±0.001 inch), even over a large area. The WM Series also offers ease-of-use, as the wireless probe allows for part measurement without restrictions, while the probe’s touchscreen facilitates the same operations that were previously performed on a separate computer.

Low cost of ownership is another advantage as the device performs self-calibration before measurement, so there are no costs for training, support or ongoing maintenance.

Although inspecting long components for oil-and-gas sector customers was the original requirement for the Keyence WM, the CMM’s effectiveness and versatility led Coastal Machine to more uses.

GD&T made easy

“It helped us to accelerate our diversification into the aerospace market, as we didn’t have a CMM previously,” Guidry recalled. “Today, the primary use for our WM is performing GD&T measurements on aerospace parts.

“The system is ideal for GD&T inspection, even while the component remains in the machine tool,” he added.

As the aerospace and defense industry grows, Coastal Machine is set to position its expertise and equipment in a way that helps to address those customers’ needs.

“We’ve had the Keyence WM for just over a year and we work it hard,” Guidry said. “We are busier than ever and currently in a growth phase. Our processes and systems ensure we get repeat business, and investment in the latest technology is a big part of that.”

Cost savings

Recently, the wide-area CMM saved Coastal Machine the cost and time of remanufacturing parts that one customer claimed were incorrect. “We sent some long, oil-industry parts to a client who checked them with scales and tried to refuse them, stating they were out of tolerance,” Guidry detailed. “So, we double-checked them with our Keyence WM, which confirmed the parts as correct. The customer conceded to our superior measurement technology and passed them through.

“We have an unwavering commitment to product quality,” Guidry concluded. “However, our investment in the Keyence WM series wide-area CMM allows us to be even more accurate with our measurements, taking the company’s quality to new levels of excellence.”