The Equator Gaging System
With the patented low-cost design, unique construction, and method of operation, Equator systems are a high-speed comparative gage for inspection of medium to high volume manufactured parts. The Equator gage is unique in its design and method of operation, and has already changed the thinking of thousands of production engineers, making it their new gauge of choice.
Equator systems can be configured according to the needs of the application and manufacturing process with hardware, software and accessory options for both manual and automated operations.
Renishaw's Equator gaging systems are an innovative and highly repeatable gaging technology, based on the traditional comparison of production parts to a reference master part. Re-mastering is as swift as measuring a production part and immediately compensates for any change in the thermal conditions of a shop-floor environment. Equator systems can be used in factories with wide temperature variation – simply re-master and the system is ‘re-zeroed', ready for repeatable comparison to the master.
A master part is measured to generate a master data set. The same measurement routine is used to measure each production part. Each production data set is then compared to the master data set to determine the actual size of the part and whether it is within user defined tolerances.
With CMM Compare the calibrated absolute accuracy of the CMM can be ‘extended' onto the shop floor to provide traceability to Equator gaging measurements. The CMM measures the master part, generating a calibration (.cal) file which is transferred to the Equator system. Any production part can be used as a master part.
The calibration (.cal) file is read during "mastering" to enable individual points to be compared with data from measurement of the production parts.
Feature Compare is an alternative to CMM Compare which makes the process of calibrating the master part very easy. With Feature Compare the user can simply take the master part measurement data from an inspection report and manually enter the actual values for each feature's size, position or orientation.
The master part can be measured in a number of ways, including on a CMM or with calibrated hand gages.
A final alternative compare method is Golden Compare, which uses a golden master part to calibrate the Equator gaging system. The Golden Compare procedure presumes that the master part is produced to drawing nominal. This means that any deviation of the golden master part from drawing nominals will be included in measurements.
This process differs from the other compare procedures in that there is no requirement to first calibrate the master part.
Equator gaging benefits
The cost of scrapping parts can often be reduced with the right process control in place. Whether implemented as an automated in-line or stand alone process control method, the Equator gage's speed has enabled customers to move from sample inspection to 100% inspection of parts, significantly improving process capability.
With the Process Monitor function, operators are given visual bar graphs and charts of real time gaging data allowing processes to be corrected before scrap is produced.
CMMs are often located in temperature controlled rooms around the shop floor. With access at a premium and queues for measurement of parts, there can be delays in receiving inspection data. These delays may mean production has to be paused, or continued at risk before knowing whether the parts have been made to tolerance.
Through the Equator gage's versatility and speed of operation, switching between parts is quick and short cycle times are possible. The system's thermal insensitivity and ease of use allows operators to save time by gaging parts directly on the shop floor.
Low cost of ownership
The purchase of an Equator gage will see a rapid return on investment. Replacing manual measurement with an automated Equator gaging system can greatly increase throughput whilst reducing labour costs. Equator systems are a fraction of the cost of an equivalent custom gaging solution, including associated fixturing.
As Equator gaging systems are reprogrammable, there is no need to pay for expensive rework of custom gages in order to gage modified or new parts.
With increasing demand for fully automated manufacturing driven by the creation of 'smart factories', many Equator gaging applications have involved integration into automated cells.
The Equator EZ-IO kit can be supplied with an Equator system and is designed for automation integrators, to provide easily-configured communications between the system and a variety of equipment in automated work cells. Typically part loading on Equator gaging systems are performed by a robot or a shuttle system.