API’s solution for contract Manufacturer Kinkele

1-SMARTScanning_372x298The combination of the tracker and XD allow Kinkele to have API take data throughout at any point in the part cycle, from the machine to the finished product. And because it is always doing something new or rare, Kinkele relies on API expertise to help it accomplish the most unique measurement tasks.

The ability to be able to do everything is Kinkele´s strongest characteristic in comparison to other companies. Kinkele has 350 customers in 25 industries and is a classic contract manufacturer. “We make everything that others find too difficult, too complicated or are in too much of a rush to make”, explains Edgar Fleckenstein, Quality Department Manager at Kinkele. No project is the same as another at Kinkele. Flexibility was the main priority when choosing the new measurement system. The system needed to be as universal as possible. Finally Kinkele found exactly what they were looking for with the API Laser Trackers – a metrology product for industrial employment. The Laser Tracker 3 and the XD Laser 5/6D are being used in Edgar Fleckenstein`s department since the middle of 2006.

Six parameters manufactured in one measurement procedure

Kinkele manufactured the internal and external airbreaks for the Airbus A320 and A380. These airbreaks were approximately 8 to 3 meters. The main task for quality assurance was parallelism and position measurements. Fleckenstein´s staff were already using the XD Laser 5/6D at the start of the project, in order to measure and examine the machine. Contrary to conventional interferometers, which accomplish distance measurements by two linear shifted prisms, the XD Laser 5/6D is developed on single axles, so that measurement accuracy can be increased with parallel measurements and 6 parameters can be measured at one time.

The XD Laser System measures axle angle-, slope -, and linearity. Up to two thirds of time can be saved when using the XD Laser, immediately proving its ROI as service machine standing time is very expensive and error probability increases the longer a measurement lasts. The equipment can compensate temperature variations via its integrated sensors. If a measurement would last longer than one day, it would affect the accuracy, states Fleckenstein

Direct ray beam

Are the machines perfectly aligned? Is the first step of the measurement completed? Arising problems can now be finally directly inspected by employees with the API Laser Tracker 3. This 3D measurement system calculates the coordinates over two angles and the measured distance. With a measurement range of 120 meters as well as swiveling ranges horizontally +/- 320 degrees and vertically +80 to -60 degrees, the Laser Tracker is also suitable for measuring large objects.

The Laser Tracker measurement head is created so that the laser beam is neither returned by a mirror nor by a light conductor. A big plus point for the Laser Tracker is its portability. With a weight of 8.5 kg and a height of 36 cm the Laser Tracker can be closely positioned for the employment inside a vacuum chamber. This is what Kinkele currently does. Taking measurements with heavier and larger devices would have been clearly more difficult as nearly 10 position changes were necessary. Together with its lightweight and the considerable inclination angles, which the Laser Tracker reaches, you can measure relatively near to the component. This is naturally an important factor for accuracy.

Fleckenstein is extremely satisfied with its repeatability and accuracy. These two factors totally convinced him that API would be the exactly the right partner to have. By using API products the contract manufacturer can now cover the complete process chain cycle, from the machine to partial examination.

A change of heart in the last minute

Kinkele was actually focusing on various systems from a competitor from API. API has been researching and developing their measurement technology range since 1987 and are recognized as the technology leader. Up to recently API assigned licenses and did not have any systems on the market. For this reason API was recently quasi unknown in Europe until Fleckenstein reports that it was pointed out by a customer that there is another supplier of Laser Trackers on the market. Out of formality Kinkele then invited API for a product demonstration, explained Fleckenstein, who had already decided on another product. “They came here, with a suitcase under their arm, there was no car full of equipment and they demonstrated their system and it simply fitted our needs”. The great portability as well as the combination of the Laser Tracker and the XD Laser was finally the reason for the decision to purchase, as no other competitor could comply to these conditions.

Kinkele invested 300,000 Euro into this measurement technology. A clear increase in output according to Fleckenstein, which demonstrates already that this will increase with progressive personnel training. The vacuum chamber would not have been able to be measurable without Laser Trackers or only to a very small extent. Fleckenstein´s employees had already determined in an early phase of the project that a flange had a 10 mm undersize. Without this measurement technology the chamber would have had to been completely removed, as it can no longer be welded on to the machine. Fleckenstein estimates that they saved at least one and a half days of correction work.

Professional training is company philosophy

Seven people completed the API training – three measurement teams. Within half a year all users could benefit from the strengths of the system and the Laser Tracker has already proven to be very profitable. The basis training with API lasts four days and project support is offered for three to six weeks after training. The training was designed for 10 days at Kinkele. The Managing Director, Friedrich A. Kinkele, is a great believer in professional training for his employees. 10 days were absolutely necessary as some employees had different requirements for the user profiles. For example research employees, who concentrate on the geometry of manufacturing parts, have completely different application needs to the people in quality assurance, who are concerned with the measurement of blanks.

Great cooperation

This is exactly what Kinkele has with API. If any questions or problems arise, Fleckenstein can rely on a 100 per cent availability from API via their hotline, which always provides a solution within 24 hours. Fleckenstein can only shake his head over the competition, who solely concentrate on one supplier, who has been weakly represented in Europe up to now. “Flexibility is our strength“, he described. Above all prototype construction has the most diverse requirements, and API perfectly fits these requirements.

Concentration on the European market

According to Marc Keinert the brand awareness of API in Europe will clearly rise in the near future. At the end of 2005, API began with just two employees in Europe, one year later it already has seven, and in 2007 a further five will join. In April 2007 API opened their new German office and for the first time in the history of API a Vice President for Marketing and Sales has been employed, and is surprisingly a German, stated Keinert. The indications are clear: API was up to now extremely focused on technology; in the future more emphasis will be put on to marketing and the API company headquarters in Maryland, USA recognizes the potential of the European market. Fleckenstein openly states, “we will build on this technology, even if many are not aware of this technology. In one year the machine market will speak differently about it. If technology and service are appropriate, what is there to go wrong?”


Kinkele was founded in 1885 and is now in its 4th generation privately led by Mr. Friedrich A. Kinkele. It is one of the largest German contract manufacturers of general mechanical engineering and produces with the most modern production technology on a site of 100,000 square meters in halls of approximately 25,000 square meters. With its 420 employees and 65 apprentices, Kinkele has 350 customers from 25 industries e.g. automotive, vacuum engineering, nuclear installations, air and space travel (inclusive military technology), conveying engineering and loading plants. More information available at www.kinkele.de.