Height gauge simplifies measurements for auto parts manufacturer

By Control Engineering Staff March 16, 2006
A calibration technician at NSK Steering Systems America operates a Digimar height measuring system from Mahr Federal. The device has added speed and height to the auto parts maker’s measuring operations.

Motorized, programmable height measuring systems from Mahr Federal are speeding and simplifying measurements for an auto parts manufacturer.
NSK Steering Systems America Inc. manufactures steering columns and associated components for a variety of automakers, including Ford, Toyota, and Mercedes. Its fully equipped, climate-controlled lab complex stays extremely busy performing measuring and evaluation functions. Tom Leab, metrology and inspection group leader oversees operation of the three lab areas: metrology, inspection, and metallurgy. The metrology portion handles 90% of the company’s calibration needs and 65% of its gauge repair. It also serves as a gauge crib, dispensing and tracking a host of micrometers, calipers, depth gauges, dial indicators, and more. A metallurgy lab verifies weld penetration on critical column components; a prototype lab handles developmental work; and an inspection lab handles incoming-parts and final-parts inspection.
Faced with the demands of a rapidly growing production environment, Leab sought a new gauge that would add height and speed to the process. He found an answer in a Digimar motorized, automated height gauge from Mahr Federal. The CX2 model measures parts up to 40-in. long and provided the needed speed and efficiency.
The height gauges are used primarily to facilitate final parts inspection. “We have three CMMs [coordinate measuring machines] for final inspection,” said Leab, “and they were running 24 hour a day. So we had an issue with piece part inspections. We had to wait to get time to go on the CMMs, and since the largest was only a 24-in., we ended up using precision V-blocks and things of that nature just to raise it up. We just didn’t have the height.”
Now, two CX2 model units are installed in the inspection area so that they can be used simultaneously. Another, placed in the metrology lab, supplanted an older height gauge that was complicated to use as well as lacking in height. The motorized, programmable height measuring systems offer a combination of features and performance and are suitable for lab and production measurement use. Key measuring functions can be executed by pressing one button. Readily programmable measuring routines make it possible to sample batches of mass produced parts quickly and easily.
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—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering,