O.L.D. Engineering Quality top of the ‘Form’ with Mitutoyo


Taking its distinctive name from the initials of the company’s three founders surnames, O.L.D. Engineering was established in 1971 in a small factory in Sharnford, Leicestershire. The fledgling subcontract business soon earned a reputation for delivering work on time and at the right price, but above all the for the quality of the its output. An ever-increasing order book prompted the emerging business to move to a larger facility just six months after its formation. Such was the continuing success of the business, that in 1980 O.L.D. Engineering, once again, relocated to an even larger factory in Hinckley which, itself, has since undergone further expansion.

Since those early days O.L.D. Engineering has constantly reinvested in state-of-the-art CNC machine tools and equipment to allow ever more complex work to be undertaken. In addition to first class sub-assembly and inspection facilities, the company now boasts an extensive range of advanced machining centres, CNC lathes, and grinding machines. 

Given the growing complexity of the components O.L.D. Engineering manufactures, and the company’s enduring quality philosophy, significant investments in high precision inspection equipment are regularly made.

Tim Bainbridge, O.L.D. Engineering, Senior SQI Manager explained. “Over the past 5 decades O.L.D. Engineering has grown to become a World Class, flexible and highly competitive engineering solutions provider. Although we mainly served the automotive industry we now have customers operating in many other demanding sectors, therefore our services are fully backed-up by a rigorous commitment to quality assurance. We also pursue a policy of regularly investing in the best available quality control equipment.”

As O.L.D. Engineering’s customers expect premium quality products to be delivered on time, at competitive prices, not only do all quality control checks need to be very precise, they need to be completed in a timely fashion. To help ensure the efficiency of its operation, when the need arises, O.L.D. Engineering purchases inspection equipment that delivers, not only the high levels of accuracy, but also the required speed of operation. An example of O.L.D. Engineering’s requirement for both precision and speed is the company’s recent acquisition of an advanced form, contour and surface roughness measuring system.

Tim Bainbridge continued. “We recently won a contract that involved the manufacture of precision shafts that had extremely demanding dimensional specifications. In particular, the lead angle of the shafts’ chamfers that entered mating parts, needed to be held to 30 degrees with an extremely tight tolerance. As we needed more confidence in the results we were achieving with our optical comparator, and because of our growing need for a highly precise means of measuring components’ form, contour and surface roughness, we searched for a suitable solution."

“Having looked at a couple of alternative systems, a demonstration of Mitutoyo’s Formtracer SV-C3200 instrument, conducted on both our problematic shafts, and on a wide range of other challenging applications, persuaded us that the unit was ideal for our use."

“Now installed and fully operational, our quality personnel have had their initial product training. As the machine’s controls and software is relatively intuitive and easy to follow, we are already undertaking a lot fairly involved form, contour and surface roughness inspection and achieving very accurate results. A second planned training session should enable our staff to quickly become fully proficient in the Formtracer SV-C3200’s use. Given the ever-increasing complexity of the parts we produce, in addition to improving the precision of our form, contour and surface roughness checks, it also helps that our new Mitutoyo instrument completes its routines extremely quickly. The speed of the Formtracer SV-C3200 has removed the potential for inspection department bottle-necks in these vital areas, and has enabled us to forward inspected components to dispatch much quicker.”

Mitutoyo offers a wide range of high-quality, flexible measuring instruments that enable high-accuracy measurement of form/contour and surface roughness with just a single unit. The Mitutoyo Formtracer SV-C3200 boasts excellent traverse straightness making it suitable for handling workpieces calling for high accuracy. In addition to providing high-precision results, the Formtracer SV-C3200’s increased drive speed (X1 axis: 80mm/s, Z2 axis column: 20mm/s) substantially reduces measurement cycle meaurement times.

The Formtracer SV-C3200’s drive unit (X1 axis) and column (Z2 axis) are equipped with precise linear encoders (ABS type on the Z2 axis). This technology improves the reproducibility of continuous automatic measurement of small holes in the vertical direction and repeated measurement of parts which are difficult to position. Also, highly rigid ceramic guides, combining small secular change and high resistance to abrasion, help to maintain traverse linearity specification over an extended period of time.