ShapeGrabber ai810 Scanner Improves Efficiency, Reduces Cost-of-Quality for Manufacturer of Metal Parts

Customer:

Blount International
Portland, Oregon, USA

Background:

Blount International, a leading manufacturer of equipment, accessories and replacement parts for the global forestry, garden Blount_3D_scannerand construction industries, produces in the range of 1,900 different OEM and after-market lawnmower blades.

Situation:

Tolerances on blade manufacturing have tightened as OEMs strive to achieve optimal performance. In its quest to continuously optimize quality while controlling costs, Blount sought to incorporate more automation into its Quality Inspection process. automated_3D_scan

The company had always used tradtional methods of measurement  such as calipers and height guages – to verify the conformance of its mower blades to specifications. The company’s Engineering Manager believed that particular product attributes could be measured more efficiently.

Furthermore, he looked to automation to relieve bottlenecks in the traditional process, as only a handful of personnel – die setters and Quality Control staff – were able to perform quality measurements using manual techniques.

Blount evaluated automated 3D scanning options based on six key criteria:

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility
  • Versatility
  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Traininng & support

Solution:

Blount chose the ShapeGrabber ai810 3D Scanner as the ideal automated 3D scanning solution to measure all of the key product characteShapeGrabber_3D_scanristics that Blount was concerned with across 1,800-2,000 different blade designs.The ai810 provides rapid scanning of whole parts and easily accommodates the varying sizes of blades in Blount’s product line.

Today, more than 50 operations personnel are able to use the ai810 3D laser scanner – the average training time required to get up to speed on the scanner is just one hour per person.

The scanner is also used in areas outside of Quality Control, such as design and development. Scan data provided by the ai810 scanner and Geomagic software is used to create solid models that are in turn used to develop tooling.

30% Improvement

Using the ShapeGrabber ai810 3D scanner, Blount has achieved a 30% improvement in inspection speed with no impact to accuracy (up to 0.003 of an inch). A blade ca
n be scanned in just 8 minutes and the scans can be completed by nearly any operations personnel.3D_laser_scan

Lead time on mower blade production has also dropped by nearly 30% thanks to the ShapeGrabber scanner. This is attributed to improved product quality and first-pass yield.

An unexpected benefit of the ShapeGrabber scanner has also been reported: it is supporting a culture of quality at Blount. Employees are taking more ownership of the products and their quality.

“ShapeGrabber has assisted us in improving our first-pass yield. When we can produce a quality part the first time, the entire production process benefits.”

-Brian Brunk
Engineering Manager, Blount International

“Before we release a new die for production, we do a capability study to prove the accuracy of the die and qualify the tooling. ShapeGrabber provides the ability to do that through automation rather than manual inspection.”

-Melissa Rice

Continuous Improvement Coordinator, Blount International

“The scanner has engaged the people who use it more than they were engaged before. Now, we see employees taking more an ownership of the products and their quality throughout the manufacturing organization .”

-Brian Brunk
Engineering Manager, Blount International