Surface roughness gauge automates the production process of aircraft landing systems – metrology and quality news


The world’s leading manufacturer of aircraft landing systems, Safran Landing Systems counts Airbus and Boeing among its customers. Blum-Novotest plays an important role in ensuring that passengers on hundreds of airliners equipped with Safran products arrive safely at their destinations every day. With the TC63-RG roughness measuring system from Blum-Novotest, the Canadian company was able to achieve higher levels of safety and quality in its production process while significantly reducing production times.

Safran has a long history of using Blum-Novotest’s production measurement equipment to ensure that every assembly that leaves the factory meets stringent customer requirements. Initially, Safran mainly used laser measuring systems in its CNC machining centers to measure tool length and radius and to monitor tool wear and breakage. “For several years, we have relied on the TC63 CNC probe to measure the parts to be machined in our machining centers. We recently added the BLUM TC63-RG surface roughness measurement system, which we now use to automatically monitor surfaces. Surfaces are a particularly critical characteristic in the high-tech systems that Safran manufactures ”, says NC coordinator Shawn Page and adds, in view of the production of landing gear components: “The machining process is very labor intensive. Indeed, precision is essential for our customers and surface quality is of the utmost importance. ”

The main component of every landing system is a massive forging that can weigh up to eight tons. Each of these parts is machined in CNC machining centers, first using roughers and then through a finishing process that gives the part its final dimensions. The last step is to check the quality of the surface. As the surface test had to be performed while the finished part was still clamped in the machining center, this measurement impacted not only the operator’s time, but the machine’s cycle time as well. On each part, ten different areas had to be tested in a process of approximately 45 minutes. Since the accuracy of the measurement depended on the operator holding the measuring device in the correct position, the potential for human error also had to be taken into account. Due to the significant effort involved, Shawn Page, who normally supervises production at Safran, had to check a number of surfaces himself.

The TC63-RG is supplied with a special stylus. Measuring movements are possible along two axes.

In order to be able to manage the increasing volume of work, reduce manual processes and maintain and improve high quality control standards, it has become necessary for Safran to automate the process. Examining surface quality was one area where Shawn Page saw the potential to improve accuracy and increase the rate of parts examined, while freeing up operating personnel. In addition, the CN coordinator wanted to increase the amount of data collected during production and allow that data to flow back into the production process. There was no doubt that something had to be done, which is why Shawn Page contacted Blum-Novotest.

After several convincing product presentations, the right decision was made to have the major components of the landing system reviewed using the TC63-RG. Since then, the TC63-RG has proven its worth in Mirabel, where it monitors the quality of surfaces quickly and reliably. The gauge is mounted in the machine spindle like a normal CNC probe and measures surface roughness at predefined locations. The surface of the part is examined to the nearest µm and the roughness parameters Ra, Rq, Rt, Rz and Rmax are determined in a few seconds.

The Canadian company plans to integrate BLUM measuring equipment even more closely into the machining process to detect tool wear and deviations before serious problems arise. The next step will be to expand to other machines and processes at Safran. “We are very happy to have finally found a solution with the TC63-RG which significantly reduces the time required to examine the surface roughness and thus significantly increases the cycle time while eliminating human errors in the measurement process. Shawn Page sums it up. “This has enabled us to significantly increase the productivity of our machining process. Not only that, but we can now use the time saved for a more intensive inspection of the parts and we are testing a lot more surfaces than before. Thus, our production process has become much more reliable and results in better quality products.

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