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Excellence at Marwood

By: George Keremedjiev

Saturday, December 01, 2007
 

The MASC was in front of me and it was marvelous. MASC stands for the Marwood analog sensing cart. Composed of four basic components—a cart on wheels, a computer, a touch screen and an easily interchangeable set of fixtures—the MASC is a self-contained mobile part-dimensioning station meant to be used by a press operator for gathering critical dimensions on stamped parts. It is, without reservation, among the highest levels of press-operator automated part-quality fixturing that I have ever encountered.


An operator at Marwood places a stamped part in the MASC fixture.

Prior to its implementation, the press operator would check the part with a simple go/no-go fixture, relying on his ability to properly mount the part on the fixture and interpret the best fit with probing blocks. The procedure was slow, taking about 2 min. for a test to be conducted. The sampling rate was spaced at 15 to 20 min. apart and, being a go/no-go gauge, there were no dimensional readings. If the part dimensions fluctuated but were still within the specifications, the toolroom had no inkling that characteristics were changing in the die or strip. With the MASC, the toolroom and anyone else on the network will be aware and make the necessary provisions and corrections on a proactive vs. reactive mode.

The MASC takes about 20 sec. to do its job. As you can see in the photograph, the operator simply places the stamped part by hand, and without a need for precision, on the fixture and its large locating pin. Next the large button on the touch screen is pressed and the part is clamped with air cylinders into its precise measurement position, followed by the display of the dimensions on the same screen (see the photo on the next page). It’s that simple.

 
 The MASC touch screen displays part dimensions.

The MASC can be wheeled anywhere near the press that is making the part, making it extremely easy to find space for it while affording ease of use and convenience for the operator. It automatically logs the dimensions and is designed to easily network with the company’s servers for the distribution and storage of the gathered data.

The MASC was designed and built by Jake Fehr, sensor applications specialist, and Shawn Schaefer, controls technician, at Marwood Metal Fabrication Limited in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada. In describing the MASC, Fehr, stated that it “will give four measuring points that not only give an indication of the part quality, but the wear of the tooling as well, showing the toolmakers where they need to make their adjustments.” Schaefer, with the typical reserve of a focused and brilliant programmer, further elaborated by highlighting the personal computer-based software package that is at the heart of the system, “the versatility of Labview offers great programming and creativity opportunities, something that I find very challenging and rewarding, especially when I see the final product.”

 

Upper management at Marwood, including Chris Wood, president and cofounder, have been supporters of the program and gave their full commitment in terms of money and time for Fehr and Schaefer to pursue this technology. This is their first phase. Once the company has had numerous shop-floor experiences with the MASC and its multiple but easily interchangeable set of fixtures, the next phase for the company would be the implementation of in-die sensors for part-quality measurements. The third and final phase would advance the company into the application of motors within the dies to make automated adjustments on the tooling, as needed—to compensate for material and process fluctuations.

Of course, in order to liberate the members of the sensor laboratory to pursue such projects, the toolroom and tool engineering departments at Marwood have offered their support and dedication to the die-protection phase of the program. Without a solid die-protection program in place first, part measurement with analog sensors is but a dream. All in all, Marwood is a company that is not shy about tackling challenging automation projects with gusto and optimism—two traits important in our current and highly competitive economic times. MF

 


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