GKN Driveline is one of the world’s leading suppliers of automotive driveline components and systems. It manufactures its own extensive range of automotive driveline components for use in the smallest ultra-low-cost car to the most sophisticated premium vehicle which demands the most complex driving dynamics. As a global company serving the world’s leading manufacturers, GKN Driveline needed to choose a metrology partner to help meet increasing production and accuracy expectations. Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence shares GKN Driveline’s vision to optimise measurement process for increased speed without loss of accuracy, which is why it became the partner of choice.
GKN thinks ahead when it comes to planning production, its plant at Koping in Sweden develops, manufactures and assembles the most vital parts of the four-wheel drive for many of today’s cars. Jan Engström works as a Production Engineer within the crown wheel manufacturing department and is responsible for 34 processing machines which run 24 hours a day. Together with Hexagon, Engström has been involved in a project that will change the process GKN uses to measure parts. “In the past we have used set measuring gauges to do control measurements of our products,” comments Engström. “The downside was that with each new detail we produced we needed to buy the matching gauges. When we received orders for several new products we needed a more flexible solution.”
Working together to find the right solution
GKN had identified the need for a high-quality, flexible and fast system for measuring parts, which would not create a bottleneck in production. The project started when Engström began discussions with Hexagon on finding the right solution for an inline measuring process. The final result was the installation of an automated solution where a GLOBAL Shop Floor coordinate measuring machine (CMM) equipped with PC-DMIS software has been integrated into the production line. This is the first time that GKN has embedded a measuring machine within a production cell; previously parts were taken from the production line into a measuring room for inspection. The lengthy inspection process caused costly production delays, while the new system enables the same process to be completed in just 90 seconds – a valuable time saving.
Flexibility was also an important factor for GKN Driveline when selecting the right CMM as the company needed to measure different parts for different customers quickly. Hexagon’s comprehensive solution has provided this and more, as new parts can now be measured within the cell. Workpiece changeovers are faster because of the removal of some now unnecessary processes, so waiting time is reduced to switching fixtures and programming. “It’s about long-term planning,” says Engström. “Compared to the gauges, the CMM is a very flexible option because it can measure everything we put on the table. Now we can start producing all new products directly. This also frees up time in our measuring room, as the measuring machine can handle additional controls that the gauges could not.”
GKN currently has ten Hexagon CMMs within the factory, giving the company’s staff confidence and trust in the machines. This confidence was one of the main reasons they chose the GLOBAL Shop Floor to be incorporated into the cell
Integration improves efficiency
The CMM is the first GKN has installed as part of an automated cell, where it is connected to a lathe and a robot. Every detail is measured and the measuring data is continuously sent from the measuring machine to the lathe, which then compensates within tolerance towards the nominal value. It is important to measure 100% of parts within the cell with high accuracy.
There have been several benefits of integrating the CMM into the production line, one being that production time is quicker thanks to the new quality control system – quality is truly driving productivity. “The quality data we have now is outstanding compared to the data we used to receive,” says Team Leader Johan Bäckström.
Another benefit is the speed, as GKN can now measure two pieces at once, doubling the time saving. As production time has been reduced by the CMM’s integration into the production line, it has increased the speed of the overall production.
Hexagon also created a customised training program for this particular production line and delivered training on site in Koping. Bäckström comments, “The machine is easy to use and we received the training and support needed. Hexagon came to our factory and trained everyone on the line on how to use the CMM.”
Benefits Include Cost Savings, Ease of Use and Technical Support
Saving on time also results in saving on costs, as it is easier to measure different parts by simply changing the program and fixtures, not the whole measuring process. Previously each time investment was made in a new gauge, the cost was approximately 250 000 SEK. Now the saving on every new detail is over 200 000 SEK as they make a setting gauge at a much lower cost.
GKN has many new projects requiring new measuring gauges, but this is no longer a problem as this dynamic measuring machine provides an adaptive, long-lasting solution.