Kevin Botta, the continuous improvement manager at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, LLC (Arab, AL), has been having a hard time keeping people out of their quality inspection lab. “I´ve had to chase people out of here because they want to measure everything with our new equipment,” he smiles. “It´s amazing how much faster it is than our legacy inspection methods.” He´s talking about the Instant Measurement (IM) systems that the shop purchased from Keyence Corporation of America (Itasca, IL) to increase inspection throughput on the small, tight-tolerance components machined in the Arab facility. With the ability to simultaneously measure up to 99 dimensions in less than three seconds, Instant Measurement tremendously increases the speed and efficiency in which shop employees can measure parts.
It´s a good thing they bought three of these IM-6225 “Place-and-Press” Image Dimension Measuring Systems, otherwise the quality control staff would really have their hands full. Orchid is a world leader in the design and manufacture of life changing – and life-saving –orthopedic implants, surgical instruments, and other medical devices. This includes a diverse range of spinal screws, fusion cages, fixation plates, hip and femoral stems, as well as the instruments needed to install those components in the human body. This places strong emphasis on quality, and Orchid is registered with the FDA – this is part of the reason they partnered with Keyence, because they needed a reliable method of measuring together with a metrology partner that would stand behind its systems.
Botta, a self-avowed CMM junkie, says he´s been monitoring vision measurement technology for the past decade, and made the final decision to go with IM technology during a visit to the 2014 IMTS show. “I spent an entire day cruising the metrology hall at McCormick Place. Compared to the other brands, this system has easily twice the measurement accuracy and repeatability, and the largest measurement stage for “field of view” technology. What’s really neat is the wide-angle double telecentric lens that eliminates the curve you sometimes get when checking a part on an optical comparator. And the programmable ring illumination takes care of any potential lighting problems.”
Before signing on the dotted line, Orchid sent a test part to Keyence for trials. They were making a geared component for a customer in Italy and had previously experienced trouble getting repeatable inspection results. Instant Measurement had no problem measuring the spline gear’s pitch, major, and minor diameters, the tooth angle and form, and concentricity, a tall order for many inspection machines. Based on these results, they placed the order for the three IM-6225 systems.
“When the machines arrived,and after they were FDA validated, our opportunity to implement this technology exploded,” states Botta. “Quality planning was asking if we could inspect anything from milled parts to dimensions on laser marking. Our first real big savings happened when the technicians in the lab figured out they could measure multiple parts at a time. The Friday before, our quality manager, Scott Steelman, spent 12 hours measuring a lot of 200 parts. A week later, we programmed the same job on the new IM system and were able to measure the same 200 parts within 30 minutes. We learned to program and use the machines in only a few short hours.”
That news has spread across the shop floor: Botta says he’s been kept busy doing test measurements and pushing the envelope of the system. “We have purchased some battery-powered carts and made Instant Measurement mobile. We also integrated the wireless bridge with a mobile power cart solution to optimize the system’s freedom of movement on the manufacturing floor. We worked with the Keyence support staff and our IT Department to make all of this happen. We are able to download part programs and CAD files to the machine and upload measurement results back to the file server. This is going to make life very simple for the people on the shop floor. Keyence´s support level has been phenomenal.”
Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, LLC., 331 City Park Drive SE, Arab, AL 35016, 256-586-4534, www.orchid-ortho.com.
Keyence Corporation of America, 1100 North Arlington Heights Road, Suite 210, Itasca, IL 60143, 888-539-3623, Fax: 201-930-0099, www.keyence.com.
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