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When Brad Myers was hired as the new quality manager for Brighton NC Machine Corporation (Brighton, Michigan), a large NC job shop that produces close tolerance components and assemblies for automotive, truck, off highway and the aerospace industries, he knew that it was necessary to improve the operations’ measuring quality and productivity. At the time, the company had a small manual Browne & Sharpe Validator CMM with Micro Measure 3 software. Mr. Myers knew this was not adequate to support the company’s needs, especially in a QS9000 certification program. As a result, he recommended the purchase of a used Sheffield Apollo RS 150 DCC CMM that had the physical specifications to handle the range of large parts that Brighton NC produces. The next step was to immediately upgrade the software with something that had 3D CAD capability and was easy enough to teach operators to use and understand.
Like many manufacturing operations today, Brighton NC empowers its machine operators with a considerable amount of ownership for the individual parts they produce, and this includes the ultimate quality. In process, each operator inspects his or her own parts on the CMM. This enhances productivity, and ultimately the final quality, since most jobs are small quantities. Some of these checks are in process because qualifying surfaces from raw castings are being machined.
For Mr. Myers, the job was to find powerful software that was easy to use; easy to program and prove out; had the ability to link 3D CAD data with the CMM inspection process so 3D models could be produced; and had easy editing capability and the ability to report graphical findings that everyone can understand. “I looked at everything: PC DMIS, Micro Measure, Capps & Edges and finally Virtual DMIS,” Mr. Myers says. “Without question, it was Virtual DMIS (from International Metrology Systems Inc., Livonia, Michigan) that I was most impressed with, particularly with its ability to provide collection, visualization and communication of the kind of quality data we require and also be usable to create or import a 3D model qualifying dimensions.”
Developed at the IMS software laboratory with the Dimensional Measurement Interface Standard (DMIS) as its foundation, Virtual DMIS uses an iconized navigation structure. All icons appear on a single uncluttered page.
Virtual DMIS CMM software provides the power of PCbased, 32bit technology and combines the latest software development tools in CAD and CMM industry standards. Virtual DMIS enables seamless collection, analysis, visualization and communication of quality data throughout the manufacturing enterprise. It provides graphical programming, intelligent measuring, surfacing, pictorial output and SPC, fully linking 3D CAD data with the CMM inspection process.
The software includes an error correction system to enhance the machine accuracy.
Brighton evaluated the software for about four months before purchasing it. “We found it extremely easy to use and as powerful as any software we had found,” Mr. Myers says. “It has incredible editing capability that we found does not at all impact other programming. And as far as we’re concerned, it has the best DMIS code language on the market. It is direct and separated so you can determine what the DMIS code is really saying, unlike PC DMIS where the code seems to all run together. With the Virtual DMIS we are able to write and prove out an inspection program in about 2 hours. As a matter of fact, we’ve become so efficient with our CMM operation that we are even considering doing some outside contract work.”