Anticipating future customer needs and taking risks with capital expenditures can be very challenging for a company and requires confidence, particularly during volatile economic times. However, for Evden Enterprises (Ukiah, California), the decision to purchase a new coordinate measuring machine (CMM) was the logical next step in expanding its capabilities. The company knew from experience that staying ahead of the competition and generating new business meant having the right technology and equipment.
Since it was founded in 1980, Evden Enterprises has grown from four employees to 24. The company manufactures custom components, primarily for Fortune 500 companies in the mineral, mining and oil drilling industries. Using detailed customer specifications, it transforms a variety of materials—including stainless steel, aluminum, brass and plastic—into precision parts used in applications such as drilling equipment sampling systems and ophthalmology instruments.
Evden already owned an Eclipse CMM with a ST touch-trigger probe from Carl Zeiss IMT Corporation (Maple Grove, Minnesota) that was purchased in 1988. “In the past years, increasingly tighter tolerance requirements and more complex parts have become standard,” says Stephen McGrath, vice president of manufacturing at Evden. “We needed to measure parts with extremely small hole sizes and realized that in order to satisfy our customers’ needs, we had to move to the next level.”
In 2002, Mr. McGrath decided to replace the Eclipse with a Zeiss Contura active scanning CMM using a VASTXT probe head.
“I had a good experience with the accuracy and reliability of our Zeiss CMM, so I didn’t bother looking at other manufacturers’ (CMMs),” he explains. “The scanning capability of the Contura and the programming flexibility of the Calypso software allow us to inspect multifaceted parts. With the VASTXT, we can perform the required roundness checks and inspect features smaller than 2 mm in diameter. We are also able to measure the complete part.” He continues by explaining that before the VASTXT, the company was only able to measure the key features, and the rest would have to be checked using a “cumbersome manual process.”
Evden performs in-process inspections and uses the Contura to check each individual operation. “There is no final inspection before the part goes out the door,” Mr. McGrath says. “We rely on all the different operations and steps to be accurate on the spot.”
With the new CMM, Mr. McGrath strived to meet targeted position tolerances down to 0.05 mm (0.002 inches). With the scanning VASTXT probe head collecting thousands of data points in just a few minutes, Mr. McGrath says the company is now able to achieve accurate and reliable results on intricate parts, such as drilling components used for excavating and evaluating core samples. Another advantage of Evden’s new equipment is its Calypso CAD-based software. It has allowed the company’s operators to perform complex measurements in a short time, reducing programming time by 50 percent.
This efficiency may prove the effectiveness of training. After participating in a training class, Mr. McGrath trained some of his lead employees who, in turn, trained other operators, saving travel cost and time away from work. “With Calypso, you don’t need operators with a Ph.D. in geometry. It is by far the most user-friendly software we’ve used,” he says.
While other manufacturers experienced a decrease in production in recent years, Evden was able to maintain its output and has remained profitable even in a tough economy. “Customers are interested in how you’re keeping up with technology and if you are improving your processes,” Mr. McGrath explains. “We have several larger companies that are ISO certified that review us on an annual basis, and that’s important to them.”
Purchasing the Contura CMM has had positive results for the company. But most importantly, it has opened the door to more orders for Evden. This shows that continuous improvement of processes and capabilities can lead to new business and can increase profitability, Mr. McGrath adds.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to be able to analyze your parts and better your processes.”