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Tool Measurement System Speeds CNC Tool Grinder’s Inspection, Deliveries

Jim Lorincz
By Jim Lorincz Contributing Editor, SME Media

When a growing backlog in the inspection room began to slow production and delay deliveries, Voisard Tool Service Inc. (Russia, OH), a division of Arch Global Precision, found a solution in a new advanced tool measurement system and software from United Grinding (Miamisburg, OH). Tool inspection times were slashed by more than half and the company’s ability to maintain full-speed production by coordinating every facet of the company’s operations was maintained.

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Entire time to check tool measurement for a common end mill takes Voisard Tool Service only about four minutes using a Walter Helicheck Plus with Quick Assistant software.

Voisard Tool carries an extensive line of standard cutting tools and designs and manufactures custom cutting tools, including solid-carbide drills, step drills, reamers, and end mills. The company produces solid-carbide drills and end mills to fill orders that can range from three to 30,000 pieces for customers in the automotive, heating and cooling, orthopedic and other industries. It also manufactures private label tools and performs regrind services for a few of its larger customers.

For its manufacturing, Voisard runs 25 high-precision tool-grinding machines 24 hours a day to keep up with customer demand for standard, special, or re-sharpened solid-carbide tools. The company employs 40 people and operates out of a 25,000 ft2 (2322-m2) facility just across the street from the two-car garage where the grandfather of the company’s current vice president of operations, Doug Voisard, started the shop. “My dad, Eugene, like his father before him, had a great vision and always made sure we had the latest technology, most of which came from United Grinding. It was this technology that put us in a great position to keep up with our customers’ demands,” Doug Voisard explained.

Voisard Tool’s relationship with United Grinding unofficially began in the late 1980s when the shop purchased a used Walter tool-grinding machine. The partnership became official when Doug’s father, Eugene, the second generation to own Voisard Tools, purchased the company’s first new Walter CNC tool-grinding machine. He was so impressed with Walter’s commitment to helping him through the learning curve and introducing the advanced technology into the shop and the progressive nature of United grinding’s new technology that he was always first in line to make a Walter purchase when new machines were introduced. As a result, all 25 of the shop’s tool grinders are Walter machines.

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Walter Helicheck Plus measuring machine with Quick Assistant software allows the operator to use a simple, graphic interface to complete tool measurement of cylindrical and conical milling cutters and drills in only three steps.

In keeping with its leading-edge technology strategy, Voisard Tool was one of the first shops in the US to purchase a Walter Helicheck measurement solution. Prior to using Helicheck, the shop used another type of optical tool inspection machine, one that Voisard described as very “operator opinionated.” He said that two operators could inspect the same tool and get two different angle measurements by as much as a half or even three quarters of a degree. Not a good result. The Helicheck solution eliminates operator opinion from the tool measurement process and results in more accurate measurements.

When Walter came out with the faster, more advanced Helicheck Pro, Voisard Tool added a second one to support and speed operations. The shop uses the system to measure grinding wheels, which speeds setup time by eliminating the need for the operator to measure each wheel on a separate reflecting type machine. The possibility of dust and dirt contamination is eliminated. Now, the system measures each wheel and generates a printout of the accurate measurement, so operators can quickly select the correct wheel.

“The addition of the second tool measurement system was fantastic,” Voisard said. “Everyone, from the operators in our shop to our customers, wants their tools checked using the machine because they want to make sure their tools are correct. It is so good, in fact, that it has created a huge backlog in our inspection room.”

Final inspection rates vary by customer with some requiring 10% of the tool order to be inspected, while others expect 100% inspection, according to Voisard. This inspection volume added to that of the in-process inspections occurred during each job setup as operators checked and compared tools to a list of required geometries. These two factors combined to overload the Helicheck machine and created the need to relieve the bottleneck.

The solution was found in Walter’s Quick Assistant Software, which Voisard first saw at GrindTec 2016 in Germany where United Grinding introduced the innovative tool measuring technology. Quick Assistant Software, which features fully automatic profile detection, measures tools and detects profiles digitally and automatically with a click of a mouse on Walter CNC measuring machines, eliminating complex and time-consuming preparatory work. “I was intrigued, but honestly, I thought it was too good to be true,” admitted Voisard. “None of United Grinding’s competitors were talking about anything like this.”

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Left to right: Stefan Krannitz, United Grinding application engineer; Doug Voisard, owner; Ulrich Brandle, product manager–metrology, Walter Maschinenbau.

At the urging of Stefan Krannitz, product specialist for United Grinding, Voisard made a follow-up trip to United Grinding to see the software again in early 2017. He took several members of his team and a box of tools to be measured. After seeing how convenient and technically smart the software was, Voisard, with the full support of Arch leadership, purchased the Helicheck Plus machine off the showroom floor.

With Quick Assistant, an operator uses the simple, graphic interface to complete measurement of cylindrical and conical milling cutters and drills in only three steps. First, the tool family is selected, then the tool type, and finally the required measurement parameters.

With the software, operators fully control the machine’s CNC axes electronically on the interface screen during the measurement process. This eliminates the need for manual mechanical movements involving winding a dial or working a joy stick. The software delivers precise, fully automatic and reliable position measurements without operator intervention. Plus, Quick Assistant copies and makes measurement data available that, in turn, make measurement of other identical parts just as fast and efficient.

“Before we started using Quick Assistant software, we had to set a program up for every tool that we wanted to check, which meant the entire checking process could take up to 15 minutes, depending on the number of tool attributes,” explained Voisard. “Now, we simply insert the tool into the machine, and in three clicks we reduce the tool measurement setup time by 50–75%. Now, the entire check time for a common end mill only takes approximately four minutes.”

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Voisard Tool carries an extensive line of standard cutting tools and designs and manufactures custom cutting tools.

The addition of the Helicheck Plus with Quick Assistant software has eradicated the inspection room backlog and had a ripple effect throughout the production process. Elimination of long wait times for in-process tool inspection keeps the machines in production. Voisard also credited the new machine and software with faster final inspections as well as with a 10-day overall reduction in delivery times.

Doug Voisard depends on his shop’s partnership with United Grinding and the Walter brand that began more than 30 years ago to help him keep up with continued growth and customer demand. He has already ordered another Helitronic Power grinding machine with a loader, and is adding a third robot. Furthermore, he is thrilled that the Walter brand is now located in United Grinding’s new North American headquarters facility in Miamisburg, OH. The close proximity to his shop will make it even easier to stay current on the newest technology and regularly send the company’s machine operators for training.

Voisard’s parent company, Arch Global Precision, is a consolidated precision machining services company with expertise in manufacturing precision cutting tools and precision-machined components for the medical, aerospace and defense, and general industrial markets.

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