Intelligent manufacturing solutions halve production time of gas turbine components
metrology software products ltd (MSP) and Renishaw have joined forces to provide a vital solution for customer, Doncasters Precision Castings – Deritend. The company is a leading manufacturer of investment cast and machined industrial gas turbine airfoils. These airfoils are manufactured in nickel and cobalt based superalloys. It is committed to growth and backs this commitment with a willingness
to invest in continuous improvement through lean manufacturing and rapid prototyping.
The first challenge was to improve right first-time machining rates of industrial gas turbine airfoils and nozzles and, in doing so, eliminate potential for errors to arise, as well as increasing overall productivity. Another challenge was to eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming hard fixturing and reduce set-up time. Furthermore, due to production targets, there was still a need to contract out
some secondary operations. By improving productivity, the aim was to bring these operations inhouse.
The Applications Engineer from Renishaw, recognised that MSP’s NC-PerfectPart and NC-Checker Software combined with a Renishaw RMP600 probe would provide the best overall solution for Doncasters’ requirements. This combination of hardware and software allows users to identify errors in part positioning and a machine’s geometric performance prior to a part being cut. NC-Checker checks the performance of the probe prior to carrying out five-axis checks of the machine tool. This ensures that every aspect of probing and machining performance is within set tolerances prior to part set-up and metal cutting. NC-PerfectPart solves the problems created by poor part alignment on the machine tool. Set-up is automated, meaning that fixturing is no longer as critical in the process, manual set-up error is eliminated and the time required to set even the most complex of components is reduced to minutes.
Before this solution, it took four hours to set and machine a typical industrial gas turbine nozzle. Now that same part can be probed, machined and checked in under two hours, increasing productivity by 100%. With complex components, the machining time could be up to eight hours and require the presence of a highly skilled operator to oversee the process. These parts are now produced in the same two-hour cycle as simple parts, generating even greater savings.
“Our customers are giving us positive feedback as we have greatly improved our right-first-time pass rate. I genuinely feel that we would not be successfully machining castings without the help of Renishaw and MSP. The support we get from them is great; they are at the end of the phone if we call, and on-site when we need them.”
Ollie Macrow, Engineering Manager, Doncasters Precision Castings - Deritend
MSP help Formula 1 team reduce part set-up by 9.5 hours
A leading Formula 1 team were suffering from long part set-up times before machining complex aero components for their car, such as the chassis, nose cone or front wing. Part set-up has to be accurate as the machining process involves trimming the carbon fibre to tight tolerances and drilling holes at micron precise locations. The company’s manual procedure was extremely time consuming to ensure this accurate part set-up.
Their process involved placing the part in the fixture on the machine, then manually probing it to ensure it had been made correctly and positioned correctly on the machine. The team were probing the parts using manual probing cycles. This involved probing control points one point at a time and recording each result manually.
If any errors were present, the part would have to be moved manually on the machine. Each point would be probed again and each new result written down. This process would be repeated until each point was correct. This was taking up to ten hours and long past some operators shifts.
The handwritten results would then have to be collated and emailed to the designer so it could be approved before any machining took place. Due to the length of the process designers could be receiving emails any time day or night.
MSP recognised their NC-Checker and NC-PerfectPart software could save a significant amount of time in set-up and give the operators significant control over their process.
NC-Checker makes it possible for operators to identify and remove errors on the machine and make the machine more accurate overall. The software’s benchmark reports also allow them to keep track of the machines performance over time and schedule in maintenance when necessary.
NC-PerfectPart eliminates all manual elements from the process. The software automates the probing cycle, allowing all points to be taken at once, with no manual intervention. It produces a print-out report of the probing data, making it easy for operators to send the results to the designers, at a designated time if necessary.
NC-PerfectPart auto aligns the machine to the part, eliminating the need to manually move the part around to the correct position. Its Pre-Machining Verification report shows if the part’s alignment is valid and if it has been made correctly and good enough to machine in the first place. This reduces the risk of machining the part incorrectly and having to scrap it afterwards. Chassis production is restricted due to F1 regulations. It is therefore crucial every chassis is correct and zero are scrapped.
Using MSP’s software, part set-up could be automated and errors could be accounted for by aligning the machine to the part, instead of the other way around. This significantly reduced the team’s set-up time from 10 hours to just 38 minutes each time. This impressive time saving means productivity has improved greatly and has allowed the team to get their designs through production onto the track at record times. As much less time is required on the machine (see Figure 1), it is freed up to perform other machining tasks. Furthermore, the fixed set-up time gives operators much more control over machine scheduling and means they can provide accurate delivery times.
Another benefit is the paper trail aspect of the software, as the operators no longer need to record any data manually and, as a result, can send the designer a full probing report effortlessly; at a sensible time of day.
MSP solve challenges within additive manufacturing
For over fifteen years, software company, metrology software products ltd (MSP) have been revolutionising the way aluminium, titanium and composite parts are made and measured with their products NC-Checker and NC-PerfectPart. More recently, the company have worked to improve processes for new technologies such as additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing).
Their work has been featured within an article written by Renishaw’s Director of Global Solutions Centres, Marc Saunders. He goes into detail about the challenges within the AM machining process, using a case study to demonstrate how best to solve them.
Within many industries, the use of additive manufacturing (AM) has increased significantly over the last few years. It is a flexible manufacturing method, enabling the design and manufacture of complex parts which would not be possible otherwise. It is capable of producing strong yet lightweight structures with internal features or complex geometries. Furthermore, this technique can speed up processes as complex parts can be made as a single piece and no longer need to be machined separately. AM produces very little waste and is much more efficient than traditional manufacturing methods.
Despite these benefits, additive manufacturing is not a stable process and the parts it produces are not 100% accurate. Distortion can occur within the build process and finish machining is often needed to bring the part into tolerance and ensure surfaces are smooth and flat as desired. This is difficult however, as a precise alignment is needed to cut the part accurately, something which is hard to achieve when it is unknown how the part has changed in the build process. In addition to this, fixturing difficulty, very little stock material and inconsistent condition of supply can also cause major frustrations.
MSP solve these issues to create high accuracy and consistent parts within AM. NC-Checker ensures the machine tool’s geometric performance is accurate enough for the part to be machined correctly. It produces a ‘Benchmark’ report which shows any errors affecting how accurately the AM part will be cut. This is very important when there is little stock material. NC-PerfectPart automates part setup for the AM finish machining process by calculating precise alignments for each separate machining operation. It probes the AM part to find out where the part and each feature really are. This data is then used to create new alignments, accommodating for any errors due to part distortion. Precise fixturing is not required and novel fixturing can be implemented. Using these products within the AM machining process eliminates machine geometry and part setup errors, ensuring finished parts are within tolerance and have good surface finish.
Marc’s full article on challenges in additive machining can be found using this link: https://bit.ly/2kqbznD
How MSP Helped BAE Systems Save £21 Million Using NC-PerfectPart
BAE Systems PLC is the UK’s largest defence and aerospace manufacturer, employing 90,000 people at 200 locations globally. A major contract is the rear fuselage assemblies for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to US defence giant Lockheed Martin.
The Samlesbury Engineering team are challenged with increasing the F-35 production rate to one plane set per day.
One milestone was streamlining production of Nozzle Bay Doors (NBD) for the F-35 STOVL(Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant. A critical step was fixture development to allow the door to be machined to tight tolerances despite its complex and varying shape.
Other strategic project aims were reducing long setup times, lower production costs and increasing part quality.
BAE Systems had already worked with MSP successfully on a number of key defence projects, including Eurofighter Typhoon, and previous F-35 projects, making MSP natural partners for this new challenge.
Using NC-PerfectPart, the BAE Systems engineering team developed an innovative setup technique, known as sticky fixturing. A simple way to hold a component in its free-state while it is machined.Conventionally components being processed similarly to the NBD were held in place on vacuum routing fixtures, however, vacuum would have distorted this configuration of component. Working together BAE Systems and MSP developed adaptive machining on a sticky fixture utilising MSPs automated parts set up. This collaboration ensured the team realised the challenge for the NBD.
Part setup was reduced from days to minutes leading to savings of £21m over the life of the F-35 program.
“Collaboration between MSP and BAE Systems has allowed the team to develop a unique method of holding and adaptively machining on a sticky fixture. The team’s innovative approach and expertise in their respective fields has led to considerable safety, quality & cost improvements.”
Combat Air Detail Manufacture Fabrications
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
BAE Systems PLC
The innovation and engineering excellence involved was recognised with a BAE Systems Chairman’s Gold Award. This was the 3rd award the collaborating teams have won for their contributions to innovation and cost reduction.
MSP look towards future growth with new strategic appointments
Manufacturing software solutions company, metrology software products ltd (MSP) has expanded its leadership team with two important appointments, which are part of an ongoing expansion strategy.
Marianne Whitfield joins MSP, who are an associate company of Renishaw plc, as Director of Development, while Keith Langford will join the commercial team as UK Technical Account Manager.
Marianne joins in a newly-created role that has been introduced to support the continued expansion of the business. She will join the MSP board and be responsible for managing five product development teams, working closely with end users, Renishaw and MSP’s internal development teams to ensure the products continue to be innovative and support customer wants and needs.
Marianne brings a wealth of experience to this role. For the past twenty years, she has worked within technology and product development. Prior to this position, Marianne was Managing Director of Cobweb Information, where she was responsible for the development of Cobweb’s proprietary technical platforms and content management systems. This included working with large corporates including the RBS Group, Lloyds Banking Group and BT, on their strategic product development.
Speaking about this exciting role, Marianne says: “This is an interesting new challenge and one I am really looking forward to taking on. It is an exciting time within the manufacturing industry at the moment. Industry 4.0 is revolutionising manufacturing processes, provoking major developments in digitalisation and automation, creating a prime opportunity for MSP to expand and develop”.
Keith will be a key member of the commercial team. Working closely with Renishaw, he will oversee the UK expansion of MSP’s products, including the development of new business and managing existing customer relationships. He will support both Renishaw and MSP customers across the UK, promoting MSP’s main products NC-Checker and NC-PerfectPart, ensuring installations have been successful and keeping customers up-to-date with new features and improvements.
Keith has over twenty years experience in sales, successfully promoting complex business-critical solutions to various sectors globally including the Aerospace, Automotive and Oil and Gas industries. Prior to joining MSP, he worked for one of the Siemens PLM UK partners supplying complex PLM business solutions to manufacturing companies across the UK. He is a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and is a Registered Incorporated Engineer (IENG).
On his appointment, Keith comments: “I am delighted to join MSP and look forward to meeting customers and promoting MSP’s innovative products. My engineering background and past technical training will help better understand the needs of customers and communicate this back to provide a high level of customer satisfaction. I have always worked for companies at the forefront of modern technology and MSP are no exception”.
MSP’s products automate manufacturing processes, helping the world’s largest aerospace, defence and motorsport companies produce 100% accurate parts. Processes are made more efficient, costs and waste are dramatically reduced and manufacturing time is cut significantly. These new appointments come as part of an ongoing expansion strategy, with MSP looking to increase their workforce over the next three years. As a result, the company currently have vacancies available for software engineers and anyone interested in applying should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
MSP Technical Director, Peter Hammond, expressed his delight at these new appointments: “On behalf of the whole of MSP, I am thrilled to welcome Keith and Marianne to the team. They are both experts in their fields and will bring invaluable knowledge and skills to progress the business forward and expand our reach. I look forward to working closely with them both”.
MSP promote full automation at Advanced Engineering 2018
For the eighth consecutive year, metrology software products ltd (MSP) are exhibiting at Advanced Engineering, taking place from the 31st of October to the 1st of November 2018.
Automate your machine shop
At the NEC based event, MSP will show visiting manufacturers how to fully automate their machine shop; specifically their tool axis setting, their machine checking and their part setup.
Leading experts in developing and implementing precision metrology software, MSP will present their innovative products and how they make automation easy. In particular, visitors have the opportunity to learn about NC-Checker, NC-PerfectPart and, MSP’s new product, AutoClock. These award-winning products help companies manufacture 100% accurate parts in a reduced manufacturing time, cutting costs and scrap parts and making processes more efficient.
MSP’s Commercial Director, Tony Brown, details how each product automates the machining process: “AutoClock automates the first stage – the probe calibration process. It provides fast, accurate and automated tool axis setting and takes seconds to automatically set the tool axis offset to microns. Most importantly, it enables the probe to complete the automatic calibration process without human intervention, removing errors and uncertainty.”
He continues: “NC-Checker provides automatic 5-axis checking of the machine tool, analysing the machine’s accuracy. It provides a comprehensive report, showing the manufacturer if their machine is capable of machining parts to tolerance or where the machine is under-performing.
“NC-PerfectPart solves problems created by poor condition of supply or part alignment on the machine tool. It measures the parts actual position on the machine and these measurements are used to calculate the part alignment. The machine controller is automatically updated to compensate for any discrepancy between the part location and the machining program. All errors due to misalignment are eliminated.”
Make your probes useful
This year, MSP are also aiming to demonstrate how their software can make probes more useful.
Machine tool probes are important tools for improving part quality during the manufacturing process. Yet they often remain unused, or limited to simple setup jobs, where they are unable to reach their full potential to increase part quality or setup speed.
With MSP’s software however, machine tool probes are powerful; providing a wealth of benefits such as machine capability, stock condition of supply, part distortion, part alignment, increased part quality and post-machining inspection.
A year of firsts
This is the first year AutoClock is being shown at Advanced Engineering. It is the first product available to the industry which automates the process for tool axis setting, making it an exciting feature for the exhibition.
Peter Hammond, MSP’s Technical Director, spoke ahead of the event: “We have exhibited at Advanced Engineering many times and visiting manufacturers are always impressed with the level of automation we can provide for their machine shops. I am looking forward to this year as we are able to offer another stage of automation with AutoClock, helping manufacturers to become even more efficient, productive and profitable.”
It is also the first show for MSP’s new Technical Account Manager, Keith Langford: “Advanced Engineering is a great opportunity to gain vital insight into emerging trends within all areas of the industry. I look forward to meeting with new and existing customers and learning about exciting new projects MSP can assist with.”
As part of the company's marketing strategy for 2018, MSP launched a new website at the beginning of the year to improve overall user experience. Further additions will be made in time for Advanced Engineering and will offer a dedicated online support area for existing customers to access answers to the most commonly asked questions. Margaret Toberty, Director of Operations at MSP, explains: “We are always asking customers for feedback on our products and services. Many of our customers commented that it would be beneficial to have an online support tool with hints and tips to maximise using our software. We hope that the new support section of our website will be greatly received by all of our customers.”
Now in its tenth year, Advanced Engineering is the UK’s largest gathering of advanced engineering professionals, connecting the entire supply chain of the UK’s advanced engineering industry. The show has six zones dedicated to each area of the industry: Aero Engineering, Composites Engineering, Automotive Engineering, Performance Metals Engineering, Connected Manufacturing and – new for 2018 – Nuclear Engineering.
MSP will be available to answer any of your manufacturing questions at stand Q10. Unable to make the show? Visit www.metsoftpro.com, call +44 (0)1665 608193 or email email@example.com for more information about MSP’s products and how they could help your processes.
Double Award Victory for MSP
The work metrology software products ltd (MSP) do within the technology and manufacturing industry was honoured and celebrated when they were awarded ‘Innovator of the Year’ at the Dynamites 18 Awards and winner in the 'Digital Engineering / Technology’ category at Insider Media’s Made in the North East Awards.
The ‘Innovator of the Year’ award recognises a team or organisation which has developed a software application or service that has enormous potential to change the way we live, work or play and will have an impact that will be felt far and wide. The judges were unanimous in their decision to crown MSP winners, recognising the company as being at the forefront of innovation within the global manufacturing industry.
Following this impressive achievement, more success quickly followed with the company winning in the ‘Digital Engineering / Technology’ category at Insider Media’s Made in the North East Awards on the same evening. This award celebrates the company which has best developed software or technology to solve problems and add value for customers. As winners at this event, MSP have been automatically selected as finalists for the National Made in the UK Awards. This National award brings together the regional winners from the past 12 months and honours the most innovative and dynamic manufacturers in the UK.
From it’s base in Northumberland, MSP are revolutionising the way the advanced manufacturing industry make and measure parts around the world. Their software products automate manufacturing processes helping the world’s largest aerospace, defence and motorsport companies produce 100% accurate parts. It’s scope is far-reaching; used on complex parts from F1 composite front wings, engine fan blades to 3D printed parts.
Commenting on the accolades, MSP Commercial Director, Tony Brown, said:
“We are honoured to be named as ‘Innovator of the Year’ and recognised for our work within engineering and technology. Our products are truly innovative and have a massive impact on machining processes; manufacturers see impressive time and cost savings within hours of their installation.”
MSP customer Nicholas Webster, Project Engineer at Marand, Australia, a leading global supplier of precision engineered solutions to a range of industries including Aerospace, said:
"I am delighted that MSP have gained these well deserved awards and have been recognised in the industry for their outstanding work. MSP's software has been an integral part of our process for some time now, it is easy to use and we have achieved excellent cost and time savings. We have established a great working relationship with the team at MSP and appreciate their responsiveness in assisting us with our project challenges."
This year, the MSP team have been developing their newest innovation, AutoClock. This revolutionary piece of hardware automates the first stage of the machining process, something that has not been possible before. AutoClock automates the traditional process for clocking in a sphere and in seconds can produce an accurate, reliable and repeatable result.
Peter Hammond, MSP Technical Director adds:
“Errors are eliminated and manufacturers can be confident their machine is calibrated correctly. AutoClock is not limited to specific machines and can be used on a wide range of machine tools worldwide. There are millions of machine tools in use globally, which generates great market potential for AutoClock.”