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Pistol Grip Bore Gage is Key in Eskridge
Quality Control Program

Olathe, Kansas, June 1996 A new state of the art bore gage, intensified training, and tool maintenance regimes are making it possible for Eskridge, Inc.-- a machine shop specializing in rotation drives, planetary gear boxes and fail-safe brakes -- to shorten delivery times, boost part accuracy, improve overall product quality and increase employee efficiency.

The company, which employs 56 and whose business is growing rapidly, most recently added to its metrology arsenal several Fowler/Bowers pistol grip bore gages which have shortened setup time by a factor of five, advanced accuracies to a reliable .00015" and significantly reduced work while expanding usable machine time.

This new Bowers Holematic pistol grip bore gage is used directly on the production line and has a .00005"/.001mm resolution. It has been particularly attractive to Eskridge, according to Tim Brown, Quality Assurance Supervisor, because its digital features tie into the new comprehensive data acquisition system the company is installing to increase overall quality of its output. It replaces dial bore gages, which were less accurate and slower to provide the needed checks.

Shop Supervisor Steve French adds, "This is the best bore gage we've had in my 22 years of machining experience. We do a lot of hone work and had a lot of problems with oil getting inside the other bore gages. Using this one, all we have to do is pull the battery out, clean it with a little denatured alcohol on a Q-tip and off we go." Brown says that some of the other gages needed battery replacements every day or so under continuous use. But with Fowler gages we're getting 3 -- 6 months continuous use (battery life is actually 3,000 hours) under the same conditions in comparison to the older dial gages used, and the company can train people faster and avoid problems of misreading the output."

Moving to SPC Data Collection
Now gathering data manually, Eskridge is in the process of establishing a new data collection system which will be able to transfer digital data from the Bowers gage via Opto/RS232 cable to small station computers and then to a central computer.

"This will permit us to take real-time dimensional checks and gather a great deal of other production information. It will be a great leap forward," says Brown.

The system will permit Eskridge to make a higher class of gears requiring stricter quality standards than it currently produces. Over 90% of the component parts used to produce the company's product line are manufactured in-house.

Realizing and Applying Time Savings...
Another advance is described by Steve French: "Our machine tool equipment and the special program we have for its maintenance is extremely important in our overall quality. The Okuma lathes and the new Leblond horizontal machining center are frequently checked to be sure there is no gap in maintenance. In addition, three years ago we moved into manufacturing cells and more recently went to modular tooling. As a result of all of this -- and the speed and accuracy of our online dimensional checking -- just the other day we set up the same job four times and each time only took from 10 to 15 minutes -- with no loss of parts. That's a rarity!"

Ruggedness and Reliability!
The ruggedness of the new Fowler/Bowers Holematic bore gage "amazes" the quality group at the company; it recently was dropped from a height of four feet and landed on the edge of a metal shelf and then hit the concrete floor. "There was no need at all for any readjustment because it did not lose its zero," Brown said. "It still zeroed where we had preset it. That's one of the many reasons we have two more sets of them on order."