Wind Power manufacturer AH Industries chose an API Radian laser tracker after customers’ specifications became too daunting to meet with their two point gauges, micrometers and brackets. AH selected the Radian for its measurement range of up to 120 meters and its accuracy even after position changes.
Laser trackers gave AH the assurance that its measurements were accurate and easily repeatable. This was a huge improvement over the use of manual instruments that always introduced a creeping uncertainty. They called the laser tracker’s reliability its greatest value. Overall, both systems have brought AH Industries to a level to which they would otherwise never have achieved with regard to the customer requirements. With the second tracker bought in 2011 AH Industries now can provide full measurement support for its production. Is there a better argument for an investment?
More than any other emerging industry, wind energy is recognized as a sector poised for dramatic growth in the coming years. Its potential has drawn many upstarts to move into the market, and more established players to expand their operations. To succeed, companies must differentiate themselves – and the quality of their products. AH Industries, a Danish company, recognized this and decided to improve its quality assurance of heavy wind components with mobile measurement tools that would be portable, accurate and reliable. It found these qualities in API laser trackers.
Wind power is still the industry of the future. It is presented as both environmentally friendly and cost-effective. Many companies therefore see great opportunities for gaining a foothold in this environment. AH Industries, however, is an already established and proven partner in this industry. The Danes have been delivering hubs, shafts, bearing housings and frame structures to leading providers of wind energy plants, such as Siemens, Vestas, REpower and Nordex, for many years.
AH had long held a technological advantage in the field, but was facing increasing demands from customers for accuracy in the parts that it manufactured and delivered. In the past AH was taking measurements with the industry’s most common tools: two-point gauges, external micrometers, rulers, special templates and special measuring brackets and devices. These instruments carried a level of measurement uncertainty that got to be unacceptable for quality experts at many leading companies. AH’s leaders decided to acquire new measurement technology in 2008 to meet these demands, buying AH´s first laser tracker from API.
From the very beginning the laser tracker certainly offer advantages in terms of both time and costs, and a second system (API`s new Radian laser tracker) was bought end of 2011.
It quickly became clear that a laser tracker would best fulfill AH’s requirements. AH’s engineers and executives cited the API system’s accuracy when working with large components, its ease of transport, the development options and the price as deciding factors for their purchase. In addition to its compact dimensions at that time there has been no smaller laser tracker anywhere in the world – its range of 120 meters was another highlights of the API laser tracker.
The system allows the measurement of large objects, but also from short distances. As one of the first European companies AH Industries purchased the new Radian, API`s latest generation of laser trackers.
Every API tracker can still measure effectively and accurately even after several position changes because of its light weight and a head size of 36 cm. Due to the serial production, many parts have to rest during production and can be measured during this time in every location. From the very beginning, the API Laser Tracker, loaded with Spatial Analyzer measurement software, have been supporting the quality experts of AH Industries in the Horsens factory in their quality assurance procedures. These tasks include the measurement and inspection of parts after machining, the complete measurement of the initial samples and providing critical information to production. This consultation mainly takes part in the initial phase of new products, in order to identify the most important aspects. During production, this measurement data can be used to ensure that pre-defined dimensions are being adhered to and to make suggestions for improvements.
“Today it is impossible to meet the specifications on a customer’s drawing – for example the geometry requirements on the hubs – without using a tracker,” Manager Berit Mikkelsen statues. ”It works with a tracker, but you still rely on the experience and the knowledge of the people using the measuring systems.”
Getting Better Every Day
The laser tracker quickly proved its excellent performance in the daily tasks such as the measurement of cast parts – frames, bearing houses, hubs and gearbox casings – as well as on shafts made from chromium nickel alloys. It continually provides precise results in the measurement of the large diameters, allowing the smallest possible tolerance, hole diameters, and angular and axial running surfaces. In addition, the system also offers the option of checking the repeatability of the machines. The quality experts also run all machined components through the initial sample check with the laser tracker, even those that have been processed for many years, in order to deliver the very best quality.
There is a wide range of varied applications in which laser trackers can be used. This includes, for example, the perpendicularity and several diameters of a hub weighing 12 tons, including hole diameters, that have to be checked. In the case of a bed frame, there are strict requirements on the diameter, the height, the parallelism and the drilled holes. The laser tracker has to regularly prove its transport qualities when the system is transported by car to the factory in Kolding, approximately 60 kilometers away, where, in addition to components for wind energy, components are also manufactured for other customer sectors, and are measured with the tracker.
Once in a quarter a team is traveling to facilities in Leipzig to measure wind tower rings to validate the production processes of the rings with diameters from 3500 to 6500 mm. Various readings are checked when measuring a 12-ton hub.
Measurements that Meet the Customers Needs
Aside from its mobility the API tracker’s other advantages include the ability to check different dimensions without obtaining large and heavy measurement brackets. The systems also make it possible to check the complete component faster, more accurately and with a complete measurement result. On this basis, it can be seen that AH Industries have completely succeeded in implementing the goals associated with the investment in the system: to obtain more accurate measurements for larger dimensions – for themselves as well as for customers, all of them require measurement reports.
The laser tracker is used to measure the diameter, height, parallel angles and the position of the bolt circle holes.
AH Industries is a modern industrial company which delivers solutions to the wind turbine industry and other industrial solutions. The company provides full-blown solutions in a wide span of design, production and supply chain management. AH Industries has 4 sites in Denmark: Bjert, Ribe, Horsens and Rødekro and also sites in Germany, China and USA. The concern has 475 employees and is owned by Ratos AB, one of Europe’s largest listed investment companies within its sector.
Read more on http://www.ah-industries.com
Berit Mikkelsen, Manager | Methods & Tools | AH Industries
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