We understand that cost is a major consideration when procuring a checking fixture. We’re often asked how costs can be reduced, and there are a number of effective (and often simple) ways to do this.
1. Work with your supplier from the start
Involving your supplier in the design process right from the beginning can help save you time and money. With their experience they will be able to advise you on the most effective solution for your unique requirement. The following is a good example of this:
“We were approached by a first tier automotive supplier to discuss how they could reduce the bottleneck on their CMM, with components waiting for first off / last off inspection as well as mid process inspections. They reported that, due to the number of different components and the routine checks required on each, they were falling behind on inspection verification prior to production approval. Initially, the customer requested a set of fixtures for operator use and a further set of fixtures for CMM inspection."
Having discussed this with the customer, our goal evolved to incorporate focus on reducing the number of fixtures required and to come up with a dual-purpose design to allow both accurate in-process control beside the machine for operator use, and further use as a CMM fixture.
The result was a suite of fixtures which incorporated up to 30 dial test indicator positions on each tool, allowing RPS & SPC points to be checked during the manufacturing process by the operator. The same fixtures could then also be used for CMM inspection.
The result was a reduction in the the number and cost of fixtures required, whilst maintaining full process control, reducing the overall CMM time required and so boosting production.
2. Supply a sufficiently detailed specification
Often, checking fixture suppliers are simply sent a drawing of the component to be checked, without any clear information on form, hole positions, datum locations or the type of inspection to be undertaken. While this is frustrating for the supplier, not supplying enough information at the start of the process can actually end up costing you more. Limited (or non-existent) information within the specification runs the risk of extra requirements only becoming apparent during fixture production, causing budget overruns and timing plan extensions.
3. Simplify your fixture design
Be receptive to proposed design simplifications – the fewer the individual parts to be made, the lower the cost of your fixture will be. Examples of these could include:
- Combining handed component fixtures on to a single, common baseplate;
- Producing the fixture from a single billet of material, rather than constructing from multiple parts assembled on to a separate base;
- Do away with the baseplate. A tooling board body with lifting handles secured directly to it may be all that is need for simple, visual inspection fixtures.
4. Use standard parts in your checking fixture
One simple way to reduce the cost of a checking fixture is to include standard parts in your specification. Bespoke comes at a price and is often not needed in a fixture. Your supplier will be able to advise you on the parts you can buy ‘off the shelf’ - standard parts, such as dowels and handles, will be much cheaper to buy, as well as to replace.
5. Don’t overcook the inspection functionality
Take time to think about the type of inspection you’ll be undertaking - you can add additional, unnecessary time and cost to the production of your checking fixture if you overdo its functionality. For example, requesting a full RPS 'in car line' inspection fixture when all that is really required is a simple gap and flush check will dramatically (and needlessly) increase the price.
6. Set the manufacturing tolerance at an appropriate level
Consider your component inspection requirements, and then tolerance your checking fixture accordingly. Chasing microns takes time and will cost you money. Loosen the manufacturing tolerance of your checking fixture, if you can, and its cost will also drop.
We know that the cost of a checking fixture is key concern for every buyer. By working with your supplier, as well as considering the details of your specification, you’ll be able to remove unnecessary cost whilst ensuring that your checking fixture is exactly what you need.
Have a new checking fixture buying project you’d like advice on? Then please get in touch. We’re always happy to advise and work with our customers to ensure maximum value and quality.
Want to learn more about checking fixtures? Why not check out another one of our blogs? We recommend reading How to produce the best RFQ for your checking fixture provider or 10 great questions to ask your potential checking fixture supplier.