As customers drive demand for greater accuracy, you may be looking into coordinate measuring machines and asking yourself, “Do I really need that?” As budgets get tighter, it can be hard to justify investments that might not seem like essentials, but the ability to create accurate, error-free parts is increasingly in demand from your customers. Not only does your shop need to grow its quality assurance capabilities, a coordinate measuring machine can provide considerable cost savings, especially if you still rely on gages for measurement.
Measuring manually with gages takes a lot of time and that can slow down your delivery time; by Canadian Metalworking’s estimate, a machinist can spend as much as a third of their time inspecting instead of cutting, and it can be hard to see just how much time goes down the drain. Inevitably, a workpiece comes along that requires a new gage be ordered, and then it has to be certified and recalibrated.
Canadian Metalworking also estimates that the costs of custom gaging can quickly add up throughout the year and that if you’re duplicating gages to cut down on time or spending a lot of money buying single-used gages, gaging may not be any less expensive than a coordinate measuring machine. You can also save money by buying a used machine from an independent dealer like Canadian Measurement Metrology (CMM) and retrofitting it to your specifications. Because these are inspection rather than cutting tools, they can last for decades without sacrificing their accuracy, and even a used machine can give you years of use with the right maintenance.
History and Maintenance
Buying used CMM equipment can also be a smart way to make the most of your investment and improve your productivity, but it’s important that you find a tool with a detailed service history and buy from a dealer known for maintenance and repair. While these machines are mechanically very sound, and older models may, in fact, be mechanically superior to newer models (as the invention of error mapping reduced the need for intrinsic accuracy), if they have been significantly damaged they will not be much good. When you buy from a dealer like CMM, you buy with the knowledge that they have thoroughly inspected the tool and guaranteed that it will work when it arrives on your shop floor.
To see what happens when you don’t take errors seriously, you don’t have to look any further than Bombardier’s recent woes as it repeatedly fails to deliver streetcars to the city of Toronto’s transit agency, one of the largest public transit systems in North America and an important customer for transportation manufacturers. They have pushed back their delivery of new streetcars by over 18 months and the delays are, according to some media reports, largely the result of errors in the floors, frames, and bogies made in their Ciudad Sahagan plant. The size and importance of the Bombardier delay have put it in the news, but shops of all sizes should take it as proof of the old adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t make it”. Invest in a used coordinate measuring machine today and start saving time and money while reducing your errors.