The Payoff from Deploying Smart Gear Inspection Systems
by Bill Miller
A quality-control plan for parallel-axis gear manufacturing requires significant investment in analytical and functional inspection equipment, labor, and production cost. Minimizing these costs requires a good plan. Moving the analytical inspection equipment closer to the manufacturing location has consequences that can increase costs. One of the common mistakes in an attempt to avoid extra costs is removing functional gages from the plan. Thus, a decrease of the efficiency is at risk as more analytical equipment is required. Usually audit inspections are made on analytical gear checkers post-process to certify the quality or identify characteristics that don't meet requirements. The payoff of this expense is difficult to establish and, by itself, doesn't guarantee performance. Plus, such inspections come along with time lags that create additional cost — especially if the production process produces scrap while waiting for the inspection result.
The objective of this article is to 1) review the current practice at each operation, its impact on process control, and resultant productivity gains; 2) suggest adjustments to the conventional plans; and 3) identify emerging measurement and inspection technology.