For Arundel Machine Tool, TracerPlus Precision Matters
Arundel, Maine: Arundel Machine Tool is a leading CNC (Computer Numerical Control) manufacturer, supplying precision-machined components used in complex systems such as aircraft carriers, submarines, aircraft, high-intensity optics, and state-of-the-art medical devices. The nature of Arundel’s work and its status as a supplier to the Department of Defense, US Navy, and Department of Homeland Security mean that its tracking needs go well beyond standard inventory and asset tracking. Arundel needs to provide verification that it regularly calibrates its precision tools and gauges—or, in the jargon of the trade, “gages.”
As Arundel’s Quality Management System Director William Plamondon notes, more than business concerns hang in the balance: “The items that we make in this shop can end up in a medical device, an aircraft, a Navy submarine,” he says. “I mean, we’re talking lives are at stake either way. Items have to be within calibration. They have to be periodically checked to the recommended frequency and it’s really important that we follow that.”
From the beginning, Arundel Machine had tracked tool and gage usage with pen and paper, storing usage records in a room full of binders. If someone needed to look back for an audit or to trace a problem, they would need to go through the records page by page and then, as Plamondon says, “try to decipher someone’s handwriting.” It could take hours just to find the correct binder.
In search of a more efficient and responsive way to track their more than 2000 gages, Arundel turned to L-Tron Corporation, a specialist in high-tech solutions. Rich Riedman at L-Tron recommended TracerPlus as the best answer.
“They were impressed,” says Riedman, adding that screen mockups of the solution helped Arundel envision how TracerPlus could be configured to meet its particular needs.
With TracerPlus, Arundel is now able to track tools and gages in real time and with 100% accuracy.
“One of the things that it’s given us is instant information that we never had before,” says Plamondon. “If there’ a particular gage that I’m looking for I can find it instantly and I know who has it and what they’re using it on.”
Arundel has found applications for TracerPlus that go well beyond ensuring that all tools and gages in the shop are in calibration. “We went into it basically thinking that we were going to satisfy a customer’s requirement,” says Plamondon, “and then it started growing.”
If there’s a problem with any product down the road, the job number can be referenced to discover every tool and gage that was used on that product. More importantly, though, TracerPlus makes it easier for Arundel to maintain the high standards that keep problems from occurring in the first place.
If a gage is coming due and Plamondon wants to schedule it for calibration, he can go right to the operator instead of spending hours going through the old books to try to figure out who has it. If a gage fails calibration, he can instantly pull up all the work that was done with that gage during its cycle. Or, he adds, “Let’s say I have three of one particular gage, and one of them fails because of heavy use—well, I’m concerned that the other two may fail also. In the past I would have had to go down, pull the gages out of circulation and tighten up the frequency [of the calibration cycle]. Now I can do that with a keystroke.”
“You see customers looking at it, and jaws are dropping,” Plamondon says. “They say, ‘We wanted to do this but we never knew how, and you guys are doing it.’”
How does tracking at Arundel after TracerPlus compare to before TracerPlus? “The difference is huge. TracerPlus is instant, it’s accurate, and it’s impressive to customers.”
Perhaps most important of all is the “peace of mind” that TracerPlus brings. “Without,” adds Plamondon, “looking through all the chicken scratches that we had before.”
TracerPlus can save your business time and money too. If you’d like to learn more, or if you have your own “Before PTS” story, drop us a line at 877-640-4152 or send us an email.