From one machine to another

Köppel AG - Switzerland

“The first time is always the hardest”. This phrase particularly rings true when you begin to use automated measuring technology. What you really need is a skilled partner and a measuring system that is easy to use. With Hexagon Metrology and the TIGO SF measuring machine, contract manufacturer Köppel AG, from Berneck, Switzerland, gets both.

For a company that has always performed measurements manually using height gauges, micrometers and so on, taking the step towards automated measuring technology is a pretty big deal. However, if you have a clearly formulated job profile (as was the case with Köppel AG), the acquisition process becomes far easier. “Our priorities were easy-to-use hardware and software, and being able to use the machine in production. As such, our approach was pretty much direct from (production) machine to (measuring) machine,” recalls managing director Marcel Köppel. Production should be able to continue during the measurement process and any necessary corrections be made once the measurement result becomes available. Additionally, the job shop was not interested in a “noname product” under any circumstances.

Comprehensive benchmark

During the acquisition process, Köppel AG conducted intensive investigations into products from three leading providers of measuring machine. Each provider was given the job requirement, including the brief to be able to “push a button, take measurements, get results”, and a sample part for measurements. Ultimately, it was Hexagon Metrology that offered the most appealing overall package in the form of the TIGO SF: “Its design for use in a workshop, the flexibility of the machine, fast delivery, a great price-performance ratio and ease of operation clearly spoke in favour of the TIGO SF. Hexagon Metrology also organised a visit to one of its clients, where the measurement technicians told us about their experiences with the machine – this touch reinforced our decision,” says Köppel. The TIGO SF 3D coordinate measuring machine (CMM) is precise, compact – and specially developed for use in production. Its strengths are particularly evident over a wide range of small and medium workpieces from all kinds of industries where production requires the utmost accuracy. With a measurement range of 500 x 580 x 500 mm (X/Y/Z), it is the most precise production-environment CMM in its class. “But most of all, TIGO SF offers a new approach for using measuring machines in production: At the heart of this approach lies the operating concept of the PC-DMIS CAD software and the Operator Interface option. The graphical user interface is made up of easyto-understand graphical elements and commands, making it the ideal basis for intuitive measuring processes. The well-known PC-DMIS measuring software is also available for more challenging applications,” says Sandro Sorgon, Sales and Marketing Manager at Hexagon Metrology Switzerland.

Simple operation

The TIGO SF was delivered to Köppel AG in September 2014. Since then, it has proven its worth to the job shop in its day-to-day use – thanks in part to the optional probe changer, which offers incredible flexibility when measuring diamond drill bits (DDBs). The PC-DMIS CAD software has also proven itself through its ease of use. The Operator Interface option enables ten production workers, who operate production machines the rest of the time, to carry out the measurements for the DDBs without any problems. It is the job shop’s two measurement technicians that create the programs.

Marcel Köppel takes us through the measurement process: “The user can secure the part to be measured to a magnetic fixture made in-house and select it on the touch screen, either from a list of photos or via the item number. He pushes the start button and the relevant points are measured automatically. The display then indicates if the measurement result is good or bad.” This is indicated in colour: red or green. In the event of a red result, a drawing shows the element that is outside tolerance. However, this is a rare occurrence as the software also maps how the measurement values develop. If a value is shifting towards the red area, the operator of the production machine can make adjustments so that the next parts move to clearly within the green area. This reduces the amount of waste considerably.

A whole host of benefits

The Hexagon Metrology measuring machine also provides the job shop with other significant cost benefits – as it no longer requires the services of the nearby measurement service provider: “This meant that we made a return on investment on the TIGO SF within just nine months! What you mustn’t forget is the time taken to transport the part to the service provider and the downtime of the production machine while this is taking place,” explains Marcel Köppel. “Another consideration is that we operate a three-shift system from Sunday 10pm to Saturday 5am. Naturally, the measurement service provider is not available constantly during this time…”.

The measuring machine is a time saver because the workers can return to their workstation while the automated measurements take place, meaning that they can remain productive during this time. The scanning function also drastically cuts the measuring time. “The TIGO SF provides benefits in terms of gaining new business, as companies increasingly require measurement reports and documentation,” explains Sandro Sorgon. “This, in turn, not only increases customers’ trust in Köppel AG products, but also dispenses with the need for incoming goods inspection. That‘s a win-win for both sides!”

Positive conclusion

For the DDBs, part measurement occurs after start-up of the production machine and then for every tenth part produced. However in future, the job shop envisages using the Hexagon Metrology machine to measure individual parts, and particularly being able to store the measurement reports and programs long term and recall them at any time. As the TIGO SF is “open” and can be loaded from three sides, there is also the option of measuring larger components in sections. Currently though, the main goal of Köppel AG is to gain greater expertise in using the measuring machine in order to apply its potential in an improved and more universal way.

Quick support in the event of questions and the measuring programs created together with Hexagon Metrology experts during training are key factors in the job shop rating the service as very good. The programs resulted in the TIGO SF in Berneck immediately being 100% ready for operation. This also led to a positive conclusion: “Our key objective to automate measurements for the majority of DDBs and thus make them more efficient has been achieved. This meant that we were able to significantly reduce the error quota compared with the previous manual measurements,” concludes Marcel Köppel. “To us, the TIGO SF represents added value for our employees, our customers and of course our company, Köppel AG, thanks to increased productivity, minimised waste and a quick return on investment. The measuring machine from Hexagon Metrology has definitely met our expectations in full.”

Köppel AG

Köppel AG is a metalworking company for industrial goods in single-part and series production. The company is headquartered in Berneck, Switzerland and employs 50 people, 40 of whom work at the main site. Also part of Köppel AG are Köppel Aufzüge, DEFAG and Köppel Manufacturing KFT in Hungary.

Köppel AG is comprised of three divisions: the production of diamond drill bits, mechanical production and tank inspection. Its customers primarily operate within the Swiss machinery industry. The Rhine Valley area around the company headquarters is referred to as Chancental (prospect valley), as a whole chain of companies upstream and downstream of the production process are located there. This network enables Köppel AG to offer customers a broad range of other services.