Metrology on the right lines
Knorr-Bremse Rail UK operates four facilities in the UK and at its Corsham site in Wiltshire precision machining is carried out by a specialist team.
The components produced at Corsham are all destined for use in the company’s advanced mechatronic EP2002 Distributed Brake Control (DBC) system, manufactured at the nearby Knorr-Bremse facility at Melksham, Wiltshire.
EP2002 is an ‘intelligent’ brake control system which self-compensates, in real time, to address the variable operating conditions the train finds itself in, compensating for passenger loading, wheel spin and slide and variations in friction brake performance.
The system has proved to be an outstanding export success for Knorr-Bremse. Over 75,000 EP2002 units have been produced and sold to train builders globally with the Middle East and China being key markets. Recently launched is the new, evolutionary version of EP2002 known as EP2002 3.0. This latest version offers even more features than EP2002 and will open up further markets around the world for the system.
Knorr-Bremse, through the Knorr Production System, demand the highest possible quality assurance in manufacturing. The Rail Division holds a wide variety of certifications and accreditations, foremost of which is ISO 9001 and IRIS ISO/TS 22163, which goes beyond the ISO 9001 standard to include requirements specific for application in the rail industry.
Due to the continuing global demand for EP2002 and the introduction of EP2002 3.0, further investment was approved by Knorr-Bremse Rail UK to support increased production efficiencies without any compromise in quality. CMM inspection was identified as essential in improving production efficiencies and highlighted as an area needing investment.
Research was conducted by the braking system specialist into the available CMMs on the market. The company already had good experience with the performance of the Aberlink Axiom too HS CMM installed at its nearby Melksham manufacturing site and a Zenith Too CMM in use at Corsham so when strengthening its CMM resource again Aberlink was at the top of the supplier shortlist.
Knorr-Bremse quality manager at Corsham, Aaron Rens, comments: “We produce safety critical parts where consistency of quality is absolutely paramount. We, of course, considered many CMMs to deliver the consistent quality we need and chose the Zenith 3 CMM due to good standardisation, ease of programming, even when machining the most complex of parts, and excellent value for money.
“Service and support also influenced our decision: with Aberlink we are able to phone and speak to support engineers and even software developers with any queries or feature requests and we receive a solution almost immediately.”
Purchased with the PH10M motorised probe head, SP25 scanning probe and Aberlink’s Programming from CAD software module, Mr Rens, commenting on the Knorr-Bremse set-up says: “The Aberlink Zenith 3 was purchased for the evolution of features that we needed to allow us to measure in the quickest time possible.
“The Zenith, with SP25 and Programming from CAD, has hugely reduced inspection times – by up to 66% in fact. Our most complex part has over 600 unique features and the CAD software module saves weeks of work due to our ability to create inspection programs before the parts are even machined.
“We’ve also taken the additional steps of creating simplified versions of our part programs to allow our shopfloor staff to perform in-process checks on key features.”
In addition to using the Zenith 3 for accurate measurement of new parts, Knorr-Bremse utilises the machine’s SP25 scanning probe to good effect for lifetime wear analysis of critical features, enabling inspectors to detect any potential issues early on.
The Zenith 3 Series comprises ten large capacity CNC machines with XYZ axis capacities ranging from 1,000 x 1,000 x 600mm up to 1,000 x 3,000 x 800mm.
Aberlink claims, as well as being the easiest to use, that a major benefit of its CMMs is just how affordable they are. It purports to be the only major metrology manufacturer to supply machines with zero annual software maintenance contracts or subscriptions and, free software updates for the life of the machine.
All of this means that the cost of ownership is low and the shortest return on investment is possible.