52 | QUALITY | Testing & Gauging
Precision Resource lives up to its name with automated laser measuring
Even in an age when automation is touted as the key to
industrial efficiency, quality and competitiveness, manual
processes still have a place. No amount of automation can
replace the judgement and experience of a veteran engineer or
machine operator. And the handshake will always seal a deal
better than any conceivable digital back-and-forth.
The manual touch has its place, but for fineblanking
specialist Precision Resource Inc., tool measurement was one
process that had everything to gain by being automated.
Precision Resource was founded in the US in 1947 as
Fairfield Tool Co. and now boasts facilities in Mexico and
China, four in the US, and two in Canada. The company’s
Cambridge, ON, facility contains some of the company’s
most critical operations.
Fineblanking, a hybrid metal forming process that
combines metal stamping and cold forming, produces metal
parts to near net shape with a high degree of accuracy. A high
proportion of Precision Resource’s customer base is in the
automotive sector, but the company also works in the heavy
duty truck, offroad and farm equipment, medical, defence and
industrial equipment industries.
Precision Resource’s triple-action presses, combined with
specially designed tooling, produce parts impossible to make
with any other stamping process. There are more than 100
fineblanking presses in operation across the company’s global
operations–a total Precision Resource says puts it in the global
lead. Presses range in size from 40 to 1400 tons, which is the
greatest range in the industry, the company says.
Precision Resource also boasts an extensive array of
secondary capabilities, including CNC machining, grinding,
insert moulding and a number of sub-assembly processes.
Cambridge, ON is also home to Precision Resource’s
technical centre. Here the focus is on design support,
prototype production, secondary process development, limited
production, and the building of fineblanking tools, one
objective being to expand in-house capabilities and reduce the
need for secondary operations (see sidebar).
For secondary machining, Precision Resource operates a
number of CNC machining centres, including a six-machine
cell running Doosan VC 430 VMC mills. These are equipped
with auto pallet changers so while one pallet is being
machined, the table rotates to bring a second pallet into the
ready position. Precision Resource has also added robotic
loaders to the machines to speed things up.
Until recently, however, tool measurement remained manual,
generating delays and conflict. The standard procedure was
familiar: set the tool in the holder, set it on a block and touch it
with a digital height gauge to get the distance from the bottom
of the tool holder to the top of the tool. The operator would
write the figure on a tag, attach the tag to the tool and place the
tool in the tool rack. When another operator needed the tool
he’d put it into the machine and manually enter the number on
the tag to register the offset.
That approach simply amplified human error, says
Made to Measure
www.shopmetaltech.com aPRil 2017
an error-prone manual tool measurement process
an automated laser system built for tough conditions
the blum-novotest automated laser tool measuring unit, the Mini-Macro-nano laser system in a doosan CnC milling machine.