Combining New Technology with Old Art Form for Improved Accuracy
Source: Powertrain Connection — A UAW Plant Newsletter
Old methods and new technology are being combined at Plant #3’s Rebuild Area in such a way that greater accuracy, more dependability, and a faster rebuild time is realized from the machinery taken there.
Randy Bruce, Fixture Repairman, and Bob Jones, Machine Repair, are reviving the old method of “scraping” (which has not been a part of the educational training for new Tradesmen for some time now) and combining it with the technology of surface and spindle lasers to come up with a system that brings machine tolerances within limits that are more than just acceptable. “In the past,” explains Bob Jones “if a machine was set up and its tolerances were within the outside parameters, and it was set level, the machine would be run and everyone was happy. But tool-life would be reduced because not all planes were looked at to find that level. Today, with the lasers, we can not only find out if a machine is level, we can check every surface for inclinations, parallels, perpendiculars, etc. Our accuracy is within tens of thousandths. This improves the accuracy of machining and increases the life of tools.”
“The art of scraping,” says Bob Jones “is one that has been passed on by some of the old-time Journeymen to Apprentices or EITs that have worked with them. It is not a skill that is taught in the classroom. Grinding seems to be the preferred method for many, but scraping is more precise and when used in conjunction with lasers, it gives a much better fit for parts. These methods are not being used in the industry today.”
Bob Jones and Bruce are currently rebuilding a Precision Surface Grinder from Building 40’s Tool Room. The machine will be rebuilt (on balance time) from the ground up taking special care to ensure that the surface of each part fits perfectly with other surfaces. Bob Jones says that by using laser technology, there will be approximately a 40% time savings over other methods that require constant leveling and releveling to double check accuracy.
Bruce adds, “Because of the success we have had, we’ve gone into the shop of an outside vendor with our lasers and verified the accuracy of their work (when they are doing work for us). Our goal is to prove that we can do the work faster, more accurately, and cheaper by keeping it in-house instead of using outside vendors. I believe that we are doing that.”
George Hall, Maintenance General Supervisor, fully supports the work that Jones and Bruce are doing and agrees with their goal. “In Powertrain, Union and Management are working together to try to reduce subcontracting of work that our employees can do. Jones and Bruce are doing an excellent job and with the help of employees like them, this is one phase of the business that we are proving we can do competitively with improved quality in-house.”
“As I’ve said many times in the past,” says J. Hill, Skilled Trades Shop Committeeman, “if our Skilled Tradesmen are provided with the resources and the opportunity, they can make significant contributions in the cost and quality arenas — and this insures their own job security.”