If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Click here. Thank you! The new release features a completely redesigned interface and the ability to save inspection project data for later reuse or revision. Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor Inspection via methods employing software has really come into its own during the past few years, both by companies specializing in developing inspection software, as well as software vendors coming at it from a slightly different direction, such as reverse engineering.

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Thank you for your consideration and support. MIC Group is a contract manufacturer of complex machined products and assemblies, specializing in exotic metals and serving the oil and gas, aerospace, and defense markets. A subsidiary of J. As a contract manufacturer, MIC Group must provide inspection data sheets with true, measured dimensions for every part we ship.

On average, our parts have dimensions to verify, and they often have as many as 1, elements. A tool called InspectionXpert First-Article has enabled our company to reduce this verification task from a five-person job to a one-person job, all while reducing job lead times and improving the accuracy of reported data.

Launched in , InspectionXpert was designed to simplify the process of creating inspection forms and ballooned inspection drawings for first-article and in-process inspections. We use InspectionXpert First-Article to: apply sequentially numbered balloons or bubbles to the face of these prints so we can track the inspectable dimensions; create an inspection sheet, including the reference number and actual dimension, that will travel with the parts and will be filled out by the machinists and inspectors throughout the process; and compare drawing revisions to evaluate the manufacturing impact.

These vital functions are easily recognizable by any manufacturer that works with prints and must deliver a data sheet deliverable in addition to a part.

What is often overlooked, however, is how much opportunity for improvement exists in this standard process. In my experience, companies use hand bubbling, Adobe Illustrator, CAD systems, and a variety of other suboptimal tools to move quickly through one facet or another of the process, and they typically treat the three processes above as discrete activities to be performed by different people. The most powerful advantage of InspectionXpert First-Article is that it completes these three tasks simultaneously and in less time than any one of them could be performed using any other familiar method.

The InspectionXpert First-Article user interface shows sequentially numbered balloons that are automatically added to a print each time a user highlights an element. Each time you highlight an element, a sequentially numbered bubble is added to the face of a print, and the actual image of what was highlighted is transferred to the inspection sheet.

The Dimensional Test Results report is automatically populated in Excel from a user-customizable template. During export, the software creates a PDF of the bubbled print, in addition to an Excel data sheet that contains the image from the print or text if you choose to use the optical character recognition function.

The process involves no redundant typing and there is no opportunity for human transcription error. Drawing comparisons generate red removed and green added visuals to clearly indicate what has changed.

Changes are highlighted in red removed items or green added items. We are doing in 2 days what would have taken 11 before. We currently have one person working full-time performing this job function. Without InspectionXpert, we would need at least four more employees to keep up with the current workload.

The learning curve for InspectionXpert is not a steep one. Our users typically are comfortable enough to use the tool after less than one day of training, and become fully operational after less than a week of training and use.

At this point, MIC Group users would mutiny if anyone suggested taking away this tool. I recommend InspectionXpert First-Article for anyone involved in contract manufacture using prints and data sheets. Original equipment manufacturers would do well to use the tool to provide data to their subcontractors, reducing the time required to receive product on the dock and increasing standardization across suppliers. Contract manufacturers can benefit from reduced costs, lead times, and data entry errors.

About the Author: Nathan Byman.


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