Auto Control

How to incorporate quality control best practices in automotive manufacturing

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Have you ever experienced the frustration of buying a product just to discover that it doesn’t work as expected? Hopefully, whatever you bought was a minor inconvenience, but imagine if every product you owned was unreliable and constantly needed repairs.

Fortunately, this isn’t the reality. Quality control is a valued practice that protects consumers and manufacturers, especially in the automotive industry. Quality control is necessary for the automotive industry, with three principles: Quality in Product (how the vehicle functions and behaves), Quality in Production (consistency in production standards) and Quality in Ownership (customer satisfaction).

This automotive QC philosophy is why the automotive industry has tight regulations for producing the best-quality automobiles. As new technology emerges, creating more intelligent, cleaner and sought-after vehicles requires the highest QC standards. Let’s dive into why automotive quality control benefits consumers and manufacturers and how new technology and operations are the backbones for airtight quality control in automotive manufacturing.

Thanks to their portability, Keyence CMMS allow anyone to easily measure 3-D/GD&T features, compare them to the CAD files and then automatically generate detailed inspection reports.

Benefits of modern QC

Modern QC practices center around incorporating intelligent technology, adding more inspections to the manufacturing process and emphasizing precision more than ever. The key benefits of introducing these three automotive QC practices include:

Safety. We could start by discussing how quality control saves time and money and keeps reliable customers, but all those benefits are replaceable. The safety and protection of human life is not.

It’s no secret that vehicles are potentially life-threatening, whether it be a car collision or a quality malfunction. Although we can’t eliminate the potential for collisions (only try to prevent it), effective modern quality control is a way to eliminate quality-related life-threatening issues. Ensuring safety by modernizing automotive quality control is undoubtedly a benefit. Guaranteeing safety by testing on terrain and environmental factors and consistently measuring automobiles significantly benefits all drivers.

Customer satisfaction. On a lighter note, who doesn’t like happy customers? Customers are proud to drive your product because of their reliability and trust in quality. Implementing QC practices that produce vehicles that withstand various conditions, from crashes to environmental factors, makes people want to buy your vehicles and tell others about them too. Customer satisfaction is a great benefit and encouragement to continue manufacturing better quality products yearly.

Efficiency. Customer trust and safety are essential, but how do modern automotive QC practices improve this? A critical change in the QC space of automotive manufacturing is incorporating intelligent software for quality control throughout the manufacturing process. Instead of waiting until the result, adding production line quality assessments boosts efficiency by minimizing waste and decreasing costs for the customer and manufacturer.

With the addition of software like design management systems and augmented reality (AR), quality control is constantly updated and easier to use for quicker and more precise turnaround. Technicians use AR for assistance with assembly, maintenance and measurements.

Precision. Measuring components for precision is necessary throughout a vehicle’s life cycle. Components naturally shift from wear and tear, and even if it’s a slight shift, the loss of exact precision makes the vehicle not last as long. Because of this, implementing modern QC practices like precision inspections throughout the vehicle’s life cycle could be the difference between the vehicle lasting 300,000 miles instead of 200,000.

The Keyence Image Dimension Measurement System is incredibly user-friendly. Operators can simply place the part on the stage and press one button.

Significance of precision

We touched briefly on the benefit of adding modern precision QC practices, but why is precision significant in the first place?

Precision is the foundation of automotive measurement and quality control. Without precision, using any vehicle would be extremely dangerous at the risk of malfunctioning. With a range of part sizes, from tiny screws to large doors, each of these unique components is a vital piece of the puzzle.

Precision is the difference between a car window almost closing versus closing completely or a vehicle’s brake almost working versus working perfectly. Although a small opening in a window seems insignificant, it’s the difference between rain pouring onto a seat versus a dry car. Precision makes sure every part of a vehicle is harmonious. 

QC options

The automotive industry requires specialized automotive metrology equipment because of the range in sizes of parts of a vehicle and the need for precision. Also, with a large vehicle made up of so many pieces, time is not on your side when it comes to manufacturing. Using manual systems takes time and effort. Advanced metrology equipment like coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and optical measuring systems are advanced systems for streamlining the process.

Watch the video to learn about the Keyence XM-5000, a portable CMM made for easy 3-D/GD&T measurements.

CMMs measure the geometry of a part by utilizing points taken at specified coordinates. There are many different types of CMMs including: gantry, arm and vision. Gantry-style CMMs are stationary CMMs that have better accuracy but are slower and harder for the average person to understand. Arm- and vision-based CMMs are portable and make it easier for inexperienced users to take measurements wherever necessary. 

Keyence offers a new type of CMM that is even easier to use than an arm CMM. With its use of AR, easy-to-learn software and compact design, it is the perfect CMM for use directly on the shop floor or in a quality lab.

Automotive metrology equipment CMMs effectively measure 3-D and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) features beyond the capabilities of traditional handheld tools that only measure in 2-D.

Optical measuring systems use optics like illumination, lenses and mirrors to measure images. These systems generally measure basic 2-D dimensions like length, width, radii and diameter. 

Some machines on the market do more than those four measurements. For example, Keyence uses advanced optical measuring systems with easy-to-learn software for small-part metrology needs (12 in. and under). This automotive metrology equipment measures:

  • Hole distance, circularity, XY coordinates
  • Hole diameter, parting angle
  • Pitch diameter
  • GD&T including true position, flatness, perpendicularity, parallelism

These advanced optical measuring systems paired with the Keyence rotary unit can also provide 360-degree multi-surface measurement, making it simple to measure parts in seconds.

Future of QC

Automotive technology used to include only one type of technology, gas-powered engines, so there was uniformity across the industry toward QC goals. However, with electric vehicles (EVs) rising in popularity, there’s a new layer of challenges. 

Keyence’s Image Dimension Measurement System delivers instant, automated optical inspection capabilities. Watch the video to learn more.

The automotive industry is taking hits with the fluctuating automotive market from the pandemic resulting in supply chain problems, bottlenecks and difficulty keeping up with demand. With the expansion and new supply barriers, QC technology is moving into artificial intelligence (AI) software management systems that technicians can review and analyze remotely. These management systems are retrieving more complex data to tackle production issues in real time.

Remote software management systems coupled with more precise and intelligent automotive quality control is an exciting look into a bright future. Vehicles are already lasting longer than ever before and achieving sustainable and AI monuments that manufacturers only dreamt of a few decades ago. Although there are challenges in the industry, the future is looking bright.

Keyence Corp. of America

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