Quality assurance standards in the automotive industry continues to rise year after year. This, in turn, means that performing measurements requires more time and effort, including at the German automotive supplier Peter Wahl Metall- und Kunststofftechnik. In order to accommodate their growing quality assurance workload, the company acquired a ZEISS ACCURA multisensor measuring machine, which enabled them to significantly speed up the entire measuring process.
"Measurements require more and more time," says Peter Kerber, Managing Director of Peter Wahl GmbH & Co. KG. The period when automobile manufacturers approved components for several years following successful initial sample testing are now a thing of the past. Now, as a part of requalification inspections, suppliers like Wahl often need to provide proof annually that each individual component meets the customer's requirements. As a consequence, more time and effort is invested on top of the initial and random sampling inspections. And it all adds up: approximately 5,000 hours are spent on measuring jobs at Wahl every year.
It quickly became clear to company management that they needed more employees and an additional measuring machine. After a demo featuring the ACCURA multisensor measuring machine at ZEISS, Quality Manager Willi Sauer had already made up his mind: the ZEISS system would offer the company the flexibility it needed. The reason: in addition to the contact probes, the machine was designed for use with the LineScan optical sensor. At the time, however, the measuring machine and the sensor were still in the development phase, which is how this mid-sized company became a pilot customer. "We never second-guessed our decision for an instant," explains the Quality Manager two years later. "Thanks to this measuring machine, we can now tackle measuring tasks we could not have handled previously."
“We can‘t always reach the necessary areas using a contact measuring system.“Peter Kerber, Managing Director
Contact and optical measuring technology complement each other, making it possible to perform the individual measurements at Wahl more quickly. For example: the contact sensor used to require 45 minutes to capture all the necessary dimensions of a tension lever for the roof of a convertible. Now only certain features are captured using contact measurements, whereas the rest are acquired using optical measuring technology. The result: all required drawing dimensions as well as all other shape and position tolerances of the metal-plastic compound component are captured in just 20 minutes. Using the LineScan sensor has paid off for the company in another way: "We can't always reach the necessary areas using a contact measuring system," explains Kerber. In these cases, useful information on the component geometry can only be achieved by capturing entire surfaces – and the ZEISS LineScan makes this possible.
Peter Wahl GmbH & Co. KG currently covers the entire process chain for automotive components: from the design phase to the tool and prototype construction all the way to serial manufacture. The company began as a dedicated tool manufacturer in 1962, but has since continued to expand its site in Kreuzwertheim in northern Bavaria (Germany). Around 350 employees develop and manufacture metal and plastic components as well as metal-plastic compound parts for the automotive industry. An important pillar of the company continues to be tool development and production. The batch sizes range from a sample prototype all the way to 70,000 per week for automobile components..