For the human body, eating right is essential for a healthy and functioning digestive system. The same concept can be applied to automobiles. If a car is filled with proper fuel, its exhaust system will convey burnt gases away from the engine without any complications.
Calsonic Kansei – a leading, South Korean automobile manufacturer that supplies exhaust systems to Renault Samsung Motors – was established in 1996 as a joint venture company based on the technology of Calsonic Kansei, a dedicated automotive parts manufacturer in Japan.
The company adopted the One Touch Changeover System and Inline Manufacturing concepts and applied it to its manufacturing stages, right from parts production to final assembly. This enabled the company to produce automotive parts that can be directly mounted onto a completed car, simply by fastening a couple of bolts via intermediate assembly.
Quality control practice is key
The company is committed to producing top-quality exhaust systems. To this end, it strives to achieve the goal of Zero Defect manufacturing, through the adoption of high quality standards and well-trained labour as well as the application of fool-proof devices, NC pipe bending and a synchronised robot welding system.
Calsonic Kansei’s exhaust system adopts a pre-converter and main converter, and is renowned for its unrivalled quality and performance, making it the preferred choice across the globe. To maintain its top-notch product quality, Calsonic Kansei undertakes exceptional quality control practices and proactively finds ways to refine its processes.
Fixed CMMs: Insufficient for world-class quality assurance
Since its inception, Calsonic Kansei has mainly relied on the fixed coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and conventional hand tools, such as, vernier calipers, R-gauges and shape detection tools for quality control. A 2D-measuring instrument takes a longer time to measure objects and has proven to be vulnerable to measurement errors.
Separately, a fixed CMM has its shortcomings too – it is inadequate for curves and contour lines on pressed parts and pipes, and it does not produce accurate results. “It was difficult to measure contour lines or the overall shapes of objects with a fixed CMM, especially when forming iron plates,” said the Deputy Head – Quality Assurance Team, Calsonic Kansei, elaborating on the challenges and struggles that his team faced with the existing system. He further said, “It was not easy to inspect shapes with our other tools in the inspection chamber either. One may be able to detect the presence of a gap, but it is difficult to check for its accurate dimensions or other associated data. I have to admit that product reliability can drop considerably in the process.” In a bid to improve its inspection process, Calsonic Kansei then decided to tap on an equipment support project offered by the Busan Techno Park, where they came across FARO’s devices.
3D scanning & measurement technologies
“Our competitors have been using 3D scanning devices for a long time now,” he continued. “Our customers in Europe would demand for 3D scan data whenever they had any issues with the quality. I realised that the overall expectations for quality assurance both in South Korea and in the global market have jumped from 2D-practices in the past to an entirely new level based on 3D instruments.”
Calsonic Kansei is convinced that 3D scanning and measurement technologies have become fundamental for them to match up with global quality assurance practices. The quality assurance team then began the process of procurement for the new measuring device. During their research, the company learned that the head office in Japan had also been using FARO devices. Given that their Japanese counterparts practiced very stringent selection processes, the team felt that HQ’s choice to use FARO devices was indicative of the supplier’s product quality and they decided to purchase it.
From the range of FaroArm products available, Calsonic Kansei picked the FARO® Edge ScanArm ES for its contact-type measurement capabilities as well as its scanning functionalities. The ScanArm ES was perfect for the needs of the company, since the team required 3D scanning for the pressed parts and also carried out contact-type measurements for calibration in the inspection chamber.
Significant improvement in job efficiency
The ScanArm ES is a portable 3D articulated measuring device that resembles the human arm in appearance. The device moves freely with its arm-like joints and is capable of performing measurements either through probing or 3D laser scanning of the target objects. Within seconds, the ScanArm ES acquires point cloud data consisting millions of points.
Since introducing the ScanArm ES, the Deputy Section Chief of the Quality Assurance Team has reported a five-fold increase in job efficiency. He revealed, “On average, FARO devices are used around two hours each day, five days a week, excluding weekends. What would have taken nearly a day with the fixed CMM is now completed within two hours.” Evidently, the devices have made significant improvements to the company’s processes and efficiency in the following ways.
Significant improvements to work processes & measurements
Previously, the inspection process was tedious as technicians had to cut up products one by one before they could to take any measurements. Furthermore, the team often was unable to use the R-gauge due to the difficulty in obtaining measurements.
With the ScanArm ES, inspection processes have changed completely. The target object can be scanned completely within a time frame of just a few minutes. Following that, all of the data, including the measurements, are transmitted to the dedicated software. The 3D modeling data generated is then cut across its cross-section to allow for an immediate confirmation of accurate measurements, whether it’s the width, height, roundness or plane, before they are compared with CAD data. All inspections can now be performed easily and swiftly with the ScanArm ES.
No more complex inspections
In the past, a complex inspection process spanning of four to five stages had to be performed. First, an inspection with the fixed CMM was needed, which was followed by first and second dimensional inspections of the parts that could not be fully verified in the first inspection stage.
Now, scanning with the ScanArm ES that takes to complete the entire inspection process, because the 3D modelling data generated within a few minutes allows technicians to directly arrive at a conclusion. The inspection process, which was previously spread across four or five stages, has now been reduced to a single-stage operation. As a result, the amount of time and labour associated with the inspection is considerably reduced.
No more conflict in measurements
Before, it was difficult to pinpoint specific improvement points on welded products in the inspection chamber. Even if the shape of each product was verified in the inspection chamber, it was difficult to identify the extent of its gaps. Consequently, welded products that exceeded the acceptable tolerance range remained undetected on occasion.
This issue is now resolved as the ScanArm ES delivers error free measurements and provides 3D shapes of welded products. In the case of pressed parts with uneven surfaces, it was difficult to obtain accurate X, Y, and Z-coordinates with the fixed CMM. Now, simply by checking the cross-section of the modeling data generated by the ScanArm ES, measurements of the processed parts’ protrusions can be determined right down to the decimal points. Field staff can, hence, proceed with a set of accurate measurements instead of the previous rough estimations they had to work with. Such improvements have eliminated misunderstandings or conflicting perspectives. The work process is also notably accelerated.
Growing together with partners
Previously, potential problems would be identified only after the processed parts were put into the manufacturing line. If there was a problem, the supplier of the product would then be notified. In fact, suppliers would achieve a final product that corresponds to the drawing only after multiple iterations.
Now, however, any processed product received from a supplier can be promptly checked for discrepancies via 3D scanning. As there is no need to put them into the production line to obtain feedback, suppliers can now produce moulds that match up with their drawings with greater ease. Currently, the quality assurance team of Calsonic Kansei Korea is using the FARO Edge ScanArm ES 90% more frequently than it uses the fixed CMM, which has brought about a remarkable improvement in their work efficiency.
The article is reproduced with courtesy to FARO Technologies