LEWA GmbH: Automation of complex processes in quality control
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Streamlining processes and more reliable data
LEWA GmbH is a worldwide leading manufacturer of metering- and process diaphragm pumps as well as complete metering systems for process engineering and generates €237 million in sales with its 1,200 employees. As a researching and manufacturing company, LEWA develops technologies that point the way for industry worldwide. The company focuses on technical progress. With help of cost-efficient solutions, LEWA was able to accelerate their processes and optimize their quality management. At LEWA, part drawings are digitally ballooned and characteristics are automatically extracted. Based on these, CNC programs for 3D coordinate measuring machines are automatically created, and corresponding inspection plans are automatically generated in SAP.
For manufacturing companies, quality control is an important topic. The creation of inspection reports by means of manual ballooning, manual transfer of inspection data as well as a corresponding target/performance comparison, which determines the extent to which products meet the quality requirements placed on them, is a time-consuming and error-prone activity. A large number of inspection characteristics are checked using modern 3D coordinate measuring machines from Zeiss. The object-oriented measuring software package CALYPSO is used on these machines.
The necessity of optimizing these processes was also given at LEWA. Before the process changeover, part drawings were ballooned by hand, which meant a very high time expenditure, especially for drawing revisions. The measurement results were archived as PDF files, which did not sufficiently ensure a clean evaluation of the data. As long as the measurement programs were created directly on the ACCURA II coordinate measuring machine from Zeiss, the machine could not be used for measurements, which had a negative effect on machine utilization. Templates of measurement reports were created manually in Microsoft Excel, printed out and assigned to jobs. The measurement results were transferred manually.
Streamlining processes, avoiding errors, and clean standardization were the declared goals of software-supported process automation.
How InspectionXpert helped
Today, part drawings at LEWA are ballooned digitally, i.e. provided with inspection symbols, using the InspectionXpert OnDemand software solution. In this process, all inspection characteristics are clearly marked and all relevant information is recorded and stored at the same time. The characteristic number, the nominal value, the tolerances as well as the characteristic type of all characteristics are then made available by InspectionXpert as a CSV file for the further process steps. The ballooned drawing can then be saved and archived as a PDF file.
The "CE Creator" solution from AfM Technology GmbH reads the information in the output CSV file and uses it to generate a suitable CALYPSO measuring program with all inspection characteristics. In CALYPSO, the measuring elements are generated by the user on the 3D model and linked with the inspection characteristics. This creates an executable measuring program. Parallel to the generation of the CALYPSO measuring program, CE Creator calls a function module in SAP that automatically generates the corresponding inspection plan. This function module as well as the other solutions required on the SAP side were provided by SMF KG.
The parts are then measured on one of the Zeiss measuring machines. The measurement results are transferred to the AfM Result Saver, which processes the results from CALYPSO for SAP. The AfM Result Saver then calls another SAP function module that transfers the measurement results to the inspection lot associated with the measurement.
In SAP, the actual values are then compared with the nominal values and reported back to the AfM Result Saver. The user has an overview of the entire inspection lot and the current evaluation of the individual inspection characteristics in a table that opens, visually highlighted by a corresponding color-coding. If all inspection characteristics are corresponding, the inspection lot is automatically closed and the usage decision is made. In case of deviations, the evaluation and complaint creation is done manually.
The printing of the measuring cards with the production documents is done automatically. All measurement results are centrally archived and can be flexibly evaluated at any time.
Consistency even with drawing revisions - automated inspection plan and measuring program
Changes to products affect the relevant documents and must be reflected in change inspections. Intelligent algorithms in InspectionXpert automatically detect changes to different versions of a part drawing. These are highlighted in color, eliminating the need for time-consuming and error-prone manual comparison. The changes are electronically transferred back to the CE Creator. This automatically generates a new version of the measurement program. The changes determined by InspectionXpert are automatically made in the measuring program. New inspection plans are also automatically created in SAP and linked to the measuring program. This ensures a secure, continuous process.
Optimization of quality control in terms of time and quality
"In the past, we ballooned our part drawings by hand. With help of the FAIR Software InspectionXpert, the time and effort for this could be reduced by about 70%," says Peter Haaf, metrology engineer at LEWA GmbH. "Using the output feature file, CNC programs are now automatically generated for our 3D coordinate measuring machines and inspection plans are created in SAP."
Peter Haaf, metrology technician at LEWA GmbH
"Like all small and large manufacturing companies, we are always interested in optimizing our quality assurance processes without causing a reduction in the quality of the product itself" says Sven Roser, Head of Quality Management at LEWA GmbH. "Automating our processes not only saves us a lot of time - we were also primarily concerned with the error-free transfer of data and information. Today, we can ensure a standardized way of working, including the creation of inspection plans. We solve our daily challenges faster, more professionally and in a more targeted manner as a result."
Note: The software used is a standardized solution, not a customer-specific development for LEWA. All modules and interfaces can be configured according to requirements.