Komatsu Cabtec currently owns two units of FaroArm Platinum, in lengths of 12 ft and 8 ft. These are used to measure the prototype of cabs, first-article models, and for the sample inspection of cabs and parts.
Komatsu Cabtec Co (Komatsu Cabtec), part of the Komatsu Group that is best known as the world's second largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, is located off Biwa Lake at the foot of Mt. Kagami in Japan. Established in 1918, Komatsu Cabtec specialises in developing and manufacturing driver's cabins (cabs) for construction equipment.
The back story
Komatsu Cabtec was in search of a new measuring instrument to replace its ageing layout machine. The machine had an extremely time- consuming measurement process, requiring anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to be set up. For parts with curved surfaces, it was necessary to rotate the object to take measurements at multiple angles; with each shift, the machine had to undergo recalibration, which would take up to an hour. All in all, the measurement process for a curved part took about four hours to complete.
Then, the recent developments in the industry made the layout machine increasingly ineffective. Greater emphasis on the design of construction equipment cabs saw a higher usage of curved surfaces so as to enhance appearance, and the layout machine was unable to accurately take these types of measurements. This meant that Komatsu Cabtec needed a measuring system that could cope with the change in requirements.
'When I first saw the FaroArm at our vendor's shop, it was capable of measuring the angle of a slope in 15 minutes. I was amazed by its ability to measure objects without the use of a surface plate,' said Kataoka, Supervisor-in-charge, Quality Assurance Division. 'It can measure even complex objects easily.'
The FaroArm made a great first impression, and Komatsu Cabtec decided to purchase it after discussion with several companies. This was based on key merit points: the FaroArm was user-friendly and capable of measuring objects with complex shapes.
Komatsu Cabtec currently owns two units of FaroArm Platinum of different lengths. The 12 ft measuring arm is used primarily to measure the cabs as it has a larger measurement range. Utilised from three to four days a week, the 12 ft FaroArm measures the prototypes, first-article models and also performs sampling inspections. With the FaroArm , Komatsu Cabtec was able to easily and quickly compare its prototypes with the CAD data to detect deviations, which resulted in substantial time-savings.
The second arm, 8 ft in length, measures numerous small parts that are used in the cabs. Equipped with the Laser Line Probe (LLP), this arm has the additional ability of performing non-contact laser scanning. Approximately 30-100 parts are checked and measured every month before they are fitted into the cabs. 'The measurement time is reduced by half, leading to an increase in measuring speed,' remarked Kataoka. 'Furthermore, we purchased a 32' monitor last year and it enabled us to verify the scan data on a big screen. With the use of a large monitor, we were able to perform measuring accurately and speedily.'
Kataoka added, 'Cab measurements used to take us three hours to complete but now, they can be done in just one hour. The reduction in hours resulted in cost savings, and the FaroArm is serving us well in that respect. Also, parts measurement now takes just half the time to complete, and all this has contributed to a reduction in inspection workload.ö Komatsu Cabtec has a basic environmental policy in place to conserve energy and eliminate waste and there has been a company-wide effort to implement various eco-friendly measures throughout its facilities. As a result of the adoption of the FaroArm, the improvement in energy savings made by the Quality Assurance Division has been commendable.
Kataoka shared an interesting story behind Komatsu Cabtec's implementation of the FaroArm. He said, 'Our part suppliers were worried that the parts they supply may not be up to standard due to the extreme accuracy that FaroArm now provides us. I think this has pushed for an overall improvement in quality.'
In fact, some of Komatsu Cabtec's vendors purchased the FaroArm simply because they believed FaroArm was the right choice since Komatsu Cabtec is using it. The use of the same measuring instrument by various part suppliers has improved data reliability across the cabs` manufacturing supply chain. As a result, the same method of measurement shared by the part suppliers, has led to an overall quality improvement.
In addition, Fujii from the Inspection Department of Komatsu Cabtec's Quality Assurance Division is working on the acquisition of skills and training for technicians. His department participates in the Kansai regional skill contest, organised by Komatsu on a yearly basis. In this measuring contest, 3D measuring systems are used and Fuji's department has topped the contest with full marks for two consecutive years. As the FaroArm is easy and simple to use, anyone can pick it up quickly. However, the job still requires technical expertise and a three-month training programme is conducted for technicians so that they can measure objects more quickly and accurately.
All in all, Komatsu continues to be committed to maintaining world-class quality, and FARO has been an important factor in helping Komatsu to sustain its leadership position in the industry.