In this Quality Digest article, Donald Jasurda correctly observes of today's quality environment:
"The focus of manufacturing quality has shifted to a discussion about the cost of quality and how to manage it. The manufacturer that can minimize the cost of quality while producing products the fastest, is the one that will win in today’s market."
The article focuses on “closed loop” quality management from a dimensional analysis perspective. In broader terms, closed-loop quality management involves the ongoing collection and evaluation of data from all parts of the manufacturing process to identify potential problems before quality issues arise. Virtual simulations and tolerance analyses are some of the tools used in this approach.
3D Scanners: A Natural Fit in Closed-Loop Quality Management
automated 3D scanner is a natural fit in the quality process. Specifically, 3D scanning can be integrated into the quality inspection process to provide dimensional measurement and analysis of parts as they are manufactured.
Jasurda lists eight steps involved in a closed-loop quality management process. Data produced by automated 3D scanners, such as those manufactured by ShapeGrabber, enables a number of those steps to be integrated into the quality inspection process. These include:
- Analyze tolerances. Complete 3D data of entire parts can be captured in minutes and fed into the closed-loop process for evaluation, tolerance analysis, decision-making and revision as required.
- Generate dimensional data. The 3D scanner generates accurate three-dimensional data of a given part’s entire surface area. The automatically generated reports can be stored for future reference.
- Conduct root cause analysis. 3D scan data supports quality engineers in isolating common quality problems and identifying their cause – such as mold wear, thermal and pressure settings and so on.
The author summarizes the cost benefits of these steps:
“By relying on virtual simulations throughout this process and feeding measurement inspection data back into the tolerance model, engineers can quickly pinpoint issues and perform corrective actions—avoiding the need to chase problems through their build processes by trial and error. This saves direct and indirect costs required to achieve quality goals.”
An automated 3D laser scanner further extends the scope of this process to reach into the quality inspection arena.
Achieve Best-In-Class Quality Inspection with Automated 3D Laser Scanners
This Aberdeen Group report on closed-loop quality management identifies the top goals of quality managers today. 3D scanning in the quality inspection process contributes directly to the top two of those goals:
- Ensure customer satisfaction. Once a production part is scanned with an automated 3D laser scanner, it is easily compared to CAD data, and the easy-to-understand, visual reports demonstrate to the customer that parts are meeting spec.
- Reduce the total cost of quality. Automated 3D scanners provide a dramatic improvement in efficiency over traditional methods of measurement, such as calipers or touch-probe CMM tools. Automation both reduces the total cost of quality and makes it possible for quality inspection processes to provide greater coverage – scanning more parts faster, or scanning parts that were previously impossible to measure due to complexity of shape or material type.
Another group of attributes of “best-in-class” manufacturers that Aberdeen Group identifies relate to defect rates. Those manufacturers who are top in quality average 31% fewer defects per million; spend 29% less on internal failures; and spend 60% more on defect prevention. Once again, a 3D scanner can contribute to developing such leading practices, and has been shown to reduce defects-shipped rates. For example, a ShapeGrabber 3D laser scanner helped this mold maker to resolve a specific persistent problem of error rates on the floor.
Automated 3D Laser Scanners Help Close the Quality Loop
For manufacturers focused on improving customer satisfaction, reducing the total cost of quality, and minimizing defects-shipped, an automated 3D laser scanner can contribute directly to quality management goals and best practices. They are particularly valuable in situations where complex-shaped parts (compound curves, multiple features) are otherwise too time consuming, costly, or simply impossible to measure.
If complex-shaped parts are leaving holes in your closed-loop quality management practices, contact ShapeGrabber for a free part scan or to learn how an automated 3D scanner capability can improve your quality inspection program.