Ford Aerospace ‘Coordinating’ Quality with Mitutoyo


The Ford Engineering Group is an award winning, family owned corporation specialising in the machining and pressing of components and assemblies for the aerospace, automotive and related high-technology industries. The Group, that can trace its origins back to 1910, is divided into two separate companies Ford Components and Ford Aerospace.

South Shields based Ford Aerospace provides first-class manufacturing and engineering service to a wide range of customers. Ford entered the Aerospace manufacturing sector in 1982, since this time the business has continued to invest and develop its high precision machining and pressed components capabilities and now enjoys a first-class reputation for the production of premium quality components and mechanical assemblies.

As one of the UK’s leading aerospace manufacturing companies, Ford Aerospace administers an all-embracing quality system. Rather than being regarded as two separate entities, the company’s quality regime is inextricably linked to all of its production systems. From the receipt of raw materials, though all subsequent production processes, to final inspection, the quality of the company’s output is closely monitored at every stage. Also, all interim and final inspection results are archived to provide first-class traceability.

Central to the business’ impressive quality system is its collection of advanced Mitutoyo Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs). In accordance with Ford Aerospace’s policy of regularly updating its inspection technology and to accommodate increases in production, the company recently purchased a further Mitutoyo CMM.

(Derek James Group Quality Mgr.) explained “Ford Aerospace is an accredited company with ISO9001 and aerospace AS9100. For many years we have been supplying quality products and relevant documentation to meet our customers’ specific requirements, including First Article Inspection Reports (FAIR), Production Part Approval Process (PPAP), and Certificate of Conformity (COC)

To ensure that our quality system operates both accurately and efficiently, in addition to employing highly skilled personnel, we pursue a policy of investing in the best available inspection equipment. Driven by rises in output, and the need to improve our inspection throughput speeds, whilst retaining our required high-levels of precision, we recently replaced one of our older CMMs with a more efficient Mitutoyo model. As our previous generation Mitutoyo CMMs have been ultra-reliable and have provided the levels of accuracy and repeatability we need, we were happy to return to the company for an advanced new Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex S CNC CMM.

crysta.png“To help guarantee the quality of the components and assemblies we produce, Ford Aerospace administers a ‘belt and braces’ system. In addition to our skilled production staff taking responsibility for the quality of their own output, our quality personnel also make all of the required in-depth and final inspection quality checks. Therefore, as well as our quality personnel performing inspection routines on our new Mitutoyo CMM, in accordance with our quality system, our skilled production staff also use the machine to perform in-process checks.

“With the help of Mitutoyo UK staff we have exploited our CNC CMMs’ advanced capabilities and have developed an extremely efficient, fool proof and reliable system for use by our production personnel. When in-process measurements need to be made, our production operatives take their components to our CMM room. They then simply scroll down the CMM’s computer list, clicks on the correct job code, then on the appropriate production stage. Instantly, a photograph is shown on the screen illustrating the correct orientation of the component and how it should be clamped to the CMM’s fixture, detailed measuring instructions are also provided. Once the correct set-up is completed, the press of a button starts a fast, fully automated, precise measuring routine. On completion, if required, in-depth inspection reports can be created that meet our customers’ needs.

“As, at key stages throughout our manufacturing process’, each component passes through our inspection department, our new CNC driven Mitutoyo CMM has provided the promised levels of speed and accuracy and is now ensuring that our production personnel experience no hold-ups when checking their parts.

“We have enjoyed an enduring relationship with Mitutoyo for many years. In addition to the accurate and reliable nature of the company’s CMMs, we have received excellent levels of service and technical back-up from the staff of Mitutoyo UK. In addition to replacing our older Mitutoyo CMM with the latest, more efficient model, with the help of Mitutoyo, we have constantly developed and further improved our in-house CMM procedures to ensure that we gain the maximum benefit from the technology.” The advanced CRYSTA-Apex S CNC CMM, as purchased by Ford Aerospace, is based on proven construction principles that are optimized to reduce adverse dynamic effects within the system. Dedicated software algorithms guarantee high accuracy by eliminating even miniscule geometrical imperfections in the guideways.

The CRYSTA-Apex S represents a fully flexible 3D measuring machine that can be equipped with almost any kind of probe, such as touch-trigger probes, scanning probes, laser scanners and vision probes.

Mitutoyo MCOSMO modular software covers the most comprehensive range of measurement tasks. The easy to use, feature-rich software is able to organize measurement programs on a network, add pictures of workpiece and fixture positions. Also, commands and instructions can be added to guide operators.