The Rise of Automation in Aerospace, Defense, and Industrial Gas Turbine Applications
Automation—defined as developing a process that can operate automatically using technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products—is now an unavoidable trend for manufacturing companies. It has shown significant progress in the past decade and is now consistently present in various industries. Finding viable solutions to inspect complex components, such as castings, quickly and accurately during the manufacturing process has become a major concern for companies working in aerospace, defense, and industrial gas turbine applications.
Challenges: How can a manufacturer identify non-conformities on castings in order to avoid unnecessary correction processes and customer dissatisfaction?
To optimize their manufacturing processes and produce parts of better quality, companies must detect quality issues faster and base their corrective actions on improved statistical analyses. By recognizing trends, they are able to identify opportunities for upstream or downstream process improvements. This way, only conform castings are shipped to customers.
As part geometries, surface finishes, and shapes become more complex, how can large and highly detailed parts, such as castings, be measured quickly and accurately?
Minimizing preparation, measuring period, and programming time is key for manufacturing companies who want to transition to more advanced manufacturing methods. Measurement equipment must evolve into new cutting-edge technology, and measuring solutions must now combine accuracy, speed, versatility, and simplicity to deal with new complexity standards.
As the market is always becoming more competitive, how can a manufacturing company keep its business ahead of the competition and exceed customer expectations?
Increasing both productivity and product quality is the most certain way for companies to gain new business and maintain durable client relationships. Quality and productivity issues can be solved with automated quality control solutions designed for at-line inspection. Companies who integrate high-productivity industrial measuring cells designed for shop floor conditions obtain scalable, repeatable production workflows that ensure their leading position in the market.
Solution: Complete Turnkey Solution for Automated Quality Control
By offering speed, accuracy, versatility, and simplicity, automated quality control solutions can tackle productivity and quality issues in manufacturing processes.
Speed means an automated 3D scanning machine that leverages the power of robot-mounted optical 3D metrology-grade scanners for at-line inspection. In addition to accelerating measurement speed, welded structural parts and castings can be measured without surface preparation, which contributes to saving precious measuring time.
Metrology-grade accuracy, repeatability, and resolution mean a scanning technology that is insensitive to environmental instabilities—thanks to dynamic referencing—and able to deliver high-quality results, whether on surfaces, trims, or geometric features, regardless of complexity. It also means increased confidence in these measurements, which strengthens relationships between suppliers and customers.
Versatility means a complete turnkey measuring solution designed for shop floor conditions and offered in different configurations according to the client’s specific needs. It also means a measuring machine that can generate highly efficient 3D scans of objects with variations in reflectivity and measure various part sizes and different surface geometries.
Simplicity means a digital twin environment accessible to users of all levels who can easily and quickly program robot paths and optimize the robotic system’s line of sight. It also means a user interface that is simple to use and an integration that is easy for operators, who are usually non-experts in metrology or robotics.
High-productivity industrial measuring cells, such as the CUBE-R, as well as the robot-mounted scanner MetraSCAN 3D-R and software platform VXscan-R, are good examples of these fast, accurate, versatile, and easy-to-use automated quality control solutions.
Benefits: With speed, accuracy, versatility, and simplicity, a top-tier supplier can integrate 3D scanning into its sand casting manufacturing process.
With an automated 3D scanning solution that is integrated in the manufacturing process, engineers can measure castings quickly and accurately (regardless of shape complexity), monitor the measurement deviations, and explain the tendencies to customers.
At-line Inspection in Mass Production
High-productivity industrial measuring cells offer the possibility of performing mass automated inspection. Scanning castings is now part of the manufacturing process. In fact, castings can be inspected at several steps and in multiple operations during production, until they are sent to the shipping dock.
By measuring the castings with an automated 3D scanning system, companies get a lot of dimensional data, which enables the engineers to monitor deviations and observe tendencies. When numerous part dimensions become out of tolerance, they have the data and reports to explain the tendencies and justify corrective actions.
Quality Inspection on the Production Floor
Capturing all surface data on geometrically complex parts and various casting sizes is no longer a problem. Thanks to the optical tracker that enables dynamic referencing, the robot-mounted scanner is perfect for measuring parts in shop floor conditions, regardless of environmental instabilities, vibrations, and thermal variations, while maintaining part alignment and measurement accuracy during the entire inspection process.
Client: Consolidated Precision Products
Consolidated Precision Products (CPP) manufactures high-precision, geometrically complex aerospace systems, parts, and subassemblies. The company also produces multiple components for the defense industry and the industrial gas turbine market in support of both oil exploration and power generation. Founded in 1991, CPP is now composed of 19 global facilities and serves customers in over 25 countries around the world.
By investing in new technologies and driving company-wide operational excellence CPP works to earn market share on the most advanced aerospace, defense, and industrial gas turbine applications. This is why the scanning department decided to invest in Creaform’s automated cutting-edge technology, the CUBE-R robot cell.
Leveraging the power of the MetraSCAN 3D-R in a high-productivity industrial measuring cell, the CUBE-R gave CPP the ability to scan various casting sizes accurately and capture all surface data simultaneously, even on the most complex, convoluted surfaces. The CUBE-R also enabled CPP to perform at-line inspection in mass production and off-line programming.
“The nature of our casting scanning process requires accurate measurements and speed. Therefore, the scanning process could have been extremely difficult without the Creaform scanners.’’
-Dash Tahiraj, Senior Manufacturing Engineer
The scanning department chose Creaform’s automated 3D scanning measuring machine as the most viable solution to fulfill their technological criteria and contribute to the company’s advancement.
“The implementation was very easy, and the feedback from our user team was also positive,’’ adds Dash Tahiraj. “Creaform’s application engineers are helping our company program multiple parts on the CUBE-R. Their expertise is A+, and their services are always on time when troubleshooting and providing prompt responses to our questions. Their ability to simplify and explain the scanning and automation processes has been a great help for us.’’