Eliminating costly machine downtime
In a manufacturing facility, the time spent setting work piece positions and inspecting finished products manually could be better invested in machining.
 
A probing system can eliminate costly machine downtime and the scrapping of components associated with manual setting and inspection. Whilst efficient and economical productivity is a major factor behind the success of most sub-contract machine shops, quality is of paramount importance in a market place where "right first-time", with zero scrap allowance is critical. After all, rejected components mean unpaid invoices. The advanced manufacturing division of Intoco (Independent Tool Consultants Ltd) a Gloucestershire, UK, based company, is a showcase for precision subcontract engineering. Five-axis simultaneous machining centres and 3D solid modelling capabilities are supplemented by an unerring commitment to quality control, with three of the company's high-specification CNC machine tools being fitted with touch probe technology from Renishaw.
 
The target then, was to build measured accuracy into and during the manufacturing process. Machine shops that fit CNC machines with measurement probes quickly realise the benefits derived from automated tool setting, broken tool detection,component setting, in cycle gauging and first-off inspection. Intoco, based in Staverton near Cheltenham, UK, is a prime example of a subcontract manufacturer taking advantage of the touch probe technologies available from Renishaw.
 
Managing Director Tony Preece founded Intoco in 1972. Originally serving the aluminium extrusion industry, the company has evolved to serve a variety of markets that demand high quality products, fast delivery times and price competitiveness. Intoco is particularly responsive to very short leadtimes, partly because the company also has a special steels and alloys division, which means it has stocks of raw material on site ready for component machining. Tony states that the fastest return on any investment that Intoco has made has been the Renishaw probing.
 
Quick turnaround
Seven years ago, Intoco invested in a Mazak Integrex e-1850V - a machine so large it arrived in kit form in about 30 crates and at the time the only one in the UK. It came fitted with a Renishaw RMP600 touch probe, a factor which opened the company's eyes to the competitive gains on offer.
 
More investment 
Recently Intoco has added further Mazak multitasking machines to its production facility, including a Mazak Integrex e-650H, which machines components for extrusion presses, pharmaceutical and defence processes. A typical batch size at Intoco is one to four, with ten being the maximum. Mr. Parkins explains: "originally the Mazak Integrex e-650H was delivered without a Renishaw touch probe. However, we required it to machine components up to 1000 mm diameter, which were difficult to measure with conventional inspection equipment. We then contracted Renishaw to fit a touch probe with a radio signal transmission to enable Intoco to inspect and record tight tolerance dimensions". 
Intoco now also has a smaller capacity Mazak Integrex e-420H, fitted with Renishaw touch probe technology and it also uses a Renishaw MH20i manually adjustable probe with a TP20 touch trigger probe on its co-ordinate measuring machine. 
 
"The biggest challenge for us is the demand for very fast and critically urgent delivery of components to our clients", says Mr. Parkins. "The elimination of the 'off machine' inspection process and manual measuring, with the potential for inaccuracy and misreading that can occur, coupled with the length of time that this entails and the machine delays involved, gives us an improved 'floor-to-floor' time together with printed accurate measurement data to pass to our clients." 
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