Spirax’s move to the new location was part of a £30 million initiative that brought together three Spirax manufacturing sites under one roof at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
In their new location, Spirax Sarco's Mori-Seiki MH50 and HG630 horizontal milling machines are used to produce BSA bellows valves in batch sizes determined by the company's Kanban system. Prior to the relocation, the machines were integrated into Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS).
Before dismantling the FMS set-ups and moving the machines, the Spirax management wanted to be sure the machines were worthy of relocation. The company also wanted to perform subsequent checks for geometry, ballscrew accuracy and backlash issues once they were installed at the new facility.
The Renishaw QC20-W wireless ballbar was chosen to perform all the checks on the machines.
According to Spirax production engineer, Richard Morris, the bellows-sealed design of the company's BSA valves ensures stem seal leaks are completely eliminated, meeting highly stringent worldwide emissions legislation. The company employs very tight quality standards since parts go directly from the machine shop to assembly, and out-of-tolerance dimensions can delay production.
Following a day’s training, Mr Morris checked all the machines that were due to be moved and discovered they were definitely worth keeping with many of them needing new parts.
The Spirax management decided to extend the use of the Renishaw ballbar to routine preventive maintenance tasks as part of a wider plan to reduce scrap rates and increase overall quality. The single ballbar system is sufficient for all of Spirax’s machine tools.
Monitoring machine tool accuracy is critical at Spirax's new Cheltenham site as the facility runs three shifts a day with little room for problems caused by machine tool error or downtime. While poor component accuracy in any machining operation can be attributed to worn tooling, spindle wear or incorrect clamping, inaccurate parts can also result from machine tool positioning errors.
The Renishaw QC20 wireless ballbar helps identify problems early, ensuring minimised downtime as well as high accuracy of parts to provide peace of mind for the production managers.
Key performance and operational benefits of Renishaw QC20-W ballbar system:
- Bluetooth wireless technology ensures no wire handling issues, closed-door operation and reduced possibility of system damage
- Updated Renishaw hardware and software allow a 'partial arc' (220º) test for greater test flexibility to users
- Intuitive software is easy to use
- Also suitable for preventive maintenance tasks
- Eliminates machine tool positioning errors to ensure parts accuracy