Advanced metrological inspection to deal with bigger challenges and tighter tolerances

MCG Lda - Carregado, Portugal

Advanced metrological inspection with PartInspect L

A turnkey cell for automotive component inspection

Founded more than 70 years ago by Manuel da Conceição Graça, MCG remains based in Carregado, a town 30 kilometres away from Lisbon and perfectly placed near some of the country’s most important transport routes. On a dedicated industrial complex occupying over 35 000 square metres, the company employs more than 430 workers organised across five manufacturing units.

The business is largely dedicated to the development and production of solutions and products based on metal and other new-generation composite materials, and mainly produces components for OEM and Tier 1 manufacturers in the automotive industry. In recent years MCG has extended its attention to other production areas, particularly in the rail industry.

MCG’s industrial complex occupies 35,000 m2 and employs more than 430 employees.

“Our company is growing significantly in the automotive business through a strategy based on sustainability and productivity,” says Carlos Saraiva, MCG Automotive General Manager. This has led to the continuous strengthening of the company’s internal know-how in areas such as single stamped parts, welding, washing and painting of small series, allowing them to develop into a key player for larger series production.

“We now have contracts representing hundreds of thousand of pieces,” explains Vasco Monteiro, Director of Production and Quality at MCG. “Those new production dimensions represent a great increase of revenue but also new challenges, such as much tighter tolerances that demand more control in between the steps of the production process. All steps must be controlled and monitored, and the results should be known as quickly as possible so that the preventive and reactive actions can be organised in the shortest possible time.”

MCG follows a zero defect, zero PPM (parts per million) internal quality strategy to guarantee total customer satisfaction. The factory therefore needs a high-speed digital check and measurement system capable of giving direct feedback on the shop floor in cases where intervention is needed.

“Our quality strategy is zero PPM because our customers’ strategy is also zero PPM, and the better we perform, the better satisfied are our customers,” Monteiro adds. 

A long-lasting relationship

“We started working with Hexagon 30 years ago,” recalls Monteiro. “We still operate two of their tactile CMMs, one gantry and one bridge, which continue to work perfectly at high accuracy thanks to various retrofits. Hexagon’s fast response time and high level of technical support have been the key to the good relationship we have built over the years.”

The OfflineProgramming software tool is very useful for MCG to avoid stopping the machine for programming purposes.So when MCG began to analyse the acquisition of a new automated inspection system to answer the increased demand for speed and accuracy in new batch requests, it was therefore very clear that they would again reach out directly to their well-established contacts at Hexagon.

“Hexagon was our first choice and has also again proven to be the best choice,” adds Monteiro. “As we can see in the now implemented system, it is performing precisely according to our needs, so we can certainly say that we are both up to standard and up to date in terms of technology thanks to Hexagon.” 

Preinstalled robot programs can be quickly selected and launched. Inspection reports are immediately available as well.“We have already worked with PC-DMIS and have been very appreciative of this state-of-the-art metrology software package,” explains Daniel Bento, Quality Lab Supervisor. “PartInspect L, offering a brand-new automation technology with the capability to measure a large amount of data in a reduced measuring time alongside using the already familiar PC-DMIS, was really for us the jackpot.” PartInspect L is a turnkey measurement cell offered by Hexagon that is based on high-speed, high-detail structured light scanning technology. It uses a robot arm and turntable combination to allow for quick and complete part coverage, and comes with several custom software programs that allow for easy planning and control of the inspection process.

MCG are using their PartInspect L system to validate single components or batches in different production process steps. The data gathered is then analysed to check if the parts are acceptable, and in cases of dimensional non-conformity, is used to immediately inform and react within production.

“This machine has completely changed our idea of measurement.” 
Daniel Bento
Quality Lab Supervisor
MCG are using their PartInspect L system to validate single components or batches in different production process steps.“This machine has completely changed our idea of measurement,” says Bento. “Parts that took 60-to-120 minutes to be measured on one of our 3D machines are now measured in less than 15 minutes, while simultaneously giving us much more information because the part is completely scanned. With the demands of our new contracts requiring the inspection of an additional 40 parts every day, the old solution is no longer even an option.”

Offline programming and special fixtures

“Our PartInspect L runs continuously, with no downtime from one batch to another,” adds Bento. “The offline programming function allows for this level of constant inspection operation, as we can already prepare for inspection of the next part away from the machine while the machine is in use.”

“PartInspect L is really easy to use. It’s also simple to teach a new colleague how to use it. The system is fast and gathers a lot of data. The whole team realises the benefits it has brought. We’re proud to have this latest technology from Hexagon – it’s something that we want to keep bringing us forwards and meeting the latest standards in terms of technologies, especially for quality and measurement.”

Four employees are now trained on this new automation technology, and MCG have also created multifunctional fixtures to allow the parts to be fixed in an optimised way – this not only allows the system to access all the necessary sides of the part in an easy way, but also allows the team to quickly exchange the fixtures as necessary. The process is an on-going improving process to save as much time as possible when exchanging the parts and the fixtures. 
“Our PartInspect L runs continuously, with no downtime from one batch to another.” 
Daniel Bento
Quality Lab Supervisor
“Our investment in our PartInsepct L has already paid off,” says Monteiro. “Next to the major gain in terms of the time we spend on measurement, it also allows us to have a faster reaction when producing to reduce the amount of scrap.”

The compact PartInspect L automated solution fits perfectly in the quality department

A service close to the customers 

“For MCG, having long-standing suppliers that can bring state-of-the-art technology that delivers on its promises into our business is very important,” explains Saraiva.
“Hexagon products are very important for us, enabling better decision-making on the shop floor. But besides the Hexagon equipment, the service level we receive is also crucial. For us it is very important that Hexagon has a presence in Portugal, which ensures such a high level of service.”

EcoVadis Gold Medal recognition in sustainability

MCG received, for the second consecutive year, the ‘Gold Medal’ in Ecovadis’ sustainability ranking. This achievement is possible thanks to the commitment of all employees and teams to the strategy of continuous improvement in occupational safety and environmental management. This recognition places the company in the highest international standards of Corporate Social Responsibility and reinforces why customers and partners can continue to trust MCG.

EcoVadis is a sustainability rating platform for global supply chains. This platform allows large international customers can assess MCG’s performance as a supplier company.

MCG is also particulary sensitive to work with suppliers following a strong sustainability strategy and is pround that Hexagon is fully fullfilling this requirements too.

“Our investment in our PartInspect L has already paid off.”
Vasco Monteiro
Director of Production and Quality