Training & Education

Cross training

By Ray Elledge

Above: The Verisurf Master3DGage six-axis, portable, coordinate measuring machine supports fast in-process measurement and inspections anywhere on the shop floor.

Software company teams with university to help fledging aerospace supplier build the workforce it needs

January 2018 - When David and Penny Shaw returned to their Crawford County, Illinois, family farm in 2001, the couple sowed the seeds of their work experience with Cessna, Scaled Composites and Adam Aircraft to grow an engineering company in a hangar/barn home they built themselves.

Flying S Inc. quickly expanded to include rapid prototyping and fabrication of designs for customers like NASA. The aerospace supplier soon moved across the street into a metal building where a small team takes projects from raw material to paint. 

But like a number of manufacturers across the U.S., Flying S suffered from one deficit: access to a trained workforce. David Shaw turned to Vincennes University as a potential source for skilled workers. Flying S also needed help with process development, including metrology and cross training in inspection for its machinists.

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Penny and David Shaw, owners of Flying S. Inc.

Founded in 1801 by President William Henry Harrison, the Indiana college is a Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) flagship school and one of five teacher training centers that serve the 2,200 HTEC network schools that deliver machining programs nationwide. Vincennes’ wide range of associate, certificate and bachelor’s degree programs include two dedicated training centers for metrology and inspection at its Gibson County and Lebanon campuses.

Building blocks

“Metrology is involved in everything we teach,” says Doug Bowman, HTEC director of education. “It’s a must when machining parts. Depending on the wants and needs of the students and employers, we offer flexible courses that help manufacturers build from existing employees instead of robbing personnel from other shops. Ideally, we train incumbent workers or those who have a letter of intent to be hired when training is completed.”

In addition to a variety of short courses, CNC and industrial maintenance training, Vincennes conducts an intensive 15-week metrology program that delivers over 600 hours of classroom and hands-on training to an ASQ Certified Quality Inspector (CQI) certification. Its production-like environment is equipped with machine centers, fixed gantry and portable coordinate measuring machines, and Verisurf Software Inc. products.

Based in Anaheim, California, Verisurf teamed up with Vincennes to help address the shallow pool of qualified job candidates. Verisurf’s software provides a common platform for quality inspection and reporting by interfacing with CAD models and measuring devices in real time. Manufacturers can seamlessly verify a finished part’s dimensions. 

“Metrology has always been an intricate part of the manufacturing process but in the digital world, it plays an ever-increasing role,” says Ernie Husted, president and CEO of Verisurf.  “Everything that defines a part exists in a single digital archive, including how to manufacture and inspect the part.”

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Verisurf’s User Interface follows Windows standards with “tool tips.” The software provides  visual and audible indicators for any deviation between the finished part and nominal CAD model.

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The process, Model-Based Definition (MBD), uses a CAD model as the design nominal against which parts are measured and inspected. MBD supports the digital thread or communication framework that permits connected data to flow and provides an integrated view of part data throughout its lifecycle.

The digital thread concept raises the bar for delivering information to personnel in real time. MBD CAD measurement and inspection solutions like Verisurf can help address these challenges. The software can add information to the CAD model to maintain the digital thread.

Data can include:

• Complex or organic surface profiles that must be validated or created for manufacturability through scanning, reverse engineering and modeling;

• Missing Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) data that must be added during creation of a quality inspection routine; and

• Design and fabrication of assembly or check fixtures, based on a reverse model of the manufactured part or inspection and quality reporting of the physical part against the nominal CAD model.

“A single CAD-based measurement solution using a variety of digital input devices is all that is necessary to support MBD and maintain the digital thread, but operator training is critical,” says Husted.

Quality control

Adoption of in-process inspection boosts productivity. Machine operators who are properly trained and certified can conduct quality inspection and reporting routines within their work cell. The ability to cross train machine operators in metrology is a value-add for the company and an opportunity for workers to earn more money.    

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Vincennes University is a Haas Technical Education Center flagship school that supports two dedicated training centers for metrology and inspection.

Together, Verisurf and Vincennes helped Flying S recruit qualified manufacturing graduates. “Doug Bowman and his team at Vincennes took an active interest in our business, not only by referring new team members, but providing focused training,” says Shaw. “We share what we need along with any challenges we are facing and they respond with specific training programs and process improvement suggestions.”

Flying S is growing. The company now employs 50 people, 12 of whom are CNC machinists running 22 machines. The company recently added a lights-out operation. Vincennes helped develop and test the process and train the operators.

“This is a perfect example of how we have come to rely on Vincennes as an education partner,” says Shaw. “The relationship with Vincennes and their partnership with companies like Verisurf have enabled rapid growth and expansion of our machine shop capabilities.”

Every CNC machinist at Flying S has completed one or more programs at Vincennes University. Its upward trajectory is proof that the formula of process development plus training equals increased productivity and quality results. FFJ

Ray Elledge is the Education Program Manager at Verisurf Software Inc.



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