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CMM operators: how big is your shop?

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
To any CMM operators out there:

how many QC inspectors do you have in your dept? do you only operate the CMM or do you do conventional inspection as well? how big is your shop as a whole?

I'm asking because, to put it frankly, I"m going a bit nuts. Our shop has been ISO 9001 ceritified as long as I've been there. We recently got our AS9100 cert. But our small QC dept is now swamped with first articles off the floor, FAI's for customers with AS9100 paperwork, CMM inspections, parts having to be sent back for rework constantly because nobody knows how to deburr apparently...

The QC dept is basically on its own with little or no help from middle managment (QA manager is one of those off-site/part-time positions where they parachute in when there is an audit, but basically have no idea about our day-to-day operations or how to how to hold a micrometer).

so...I often find myself getting interrupted constantly in the middle of a CMM inspection to sign-off first articles off the floor. Frequently have to look up on our own whether or not a FAI with AS9100 paperwork is needed for the customer (who often don't even know themselves if they need FAI paperwork), etc..

I know this is probably not an unusual situation, with a lot of shops being small and family-owned.

but I would like to know if I want to move up and find a larger shop where there is a better division or labor and more resources for someone looking just to run a CMM...what's the minimum size shop I should be looking for? 50 employees? 100?

is it the same circus and only bigger? or does better organization naturally come with bigger size/resources, etc..?

Thanks.
 

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
I've seen a CMM and a dedicated inspector in shops as small as 4 machines. I think you're on the right path; as a worker you can't fix management problems, you have to find a place with better managers.

I don't know if this is an option for you, but just to throw it out there, you can get a usable used CMM for as little as $25k (maybe less?) and start an inspection service. I know a guy who did that some 20 years ago and is still going strong.
 

CarbideBob

Diamond
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Location
Flushing/Flint, Michigan
...
is it the same circus and only bigger?

Yes, understand that in most all cases QC/QA is a add on cost.
It is not seen the same as machine time. It is non productive overhead so you are the red headed step-child and sometimes the in way of "get er done".....
In many cases the only reason you exist is some paperwork or QC standard.
Such is the life here be it right or wrong.
I am sort of a QC nut but find that not well accepted in most places so have learned a few lessons.
Management problem or floor problem? Sucks to have enemies on both sides but if quality control it will be your life, get well adjusted to it.
EVERYONE hates the inspector, up or down the chain for all kinds of reasons.
Tis the job as it is and I 100% understand the frustration. Will you stay or will you go to some other thing?
Maybe food truck or hot dogs?
Bob
 

jccaclimber

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Location
San Francisco
To any CMM operators out there:

how many QC inspectors do you have in your dept? do you only operate the CMM or do you do conventional inspection as well? how big is your shop as a whole?

I'm asking because, to put it frankly, I"m going a bit nuts. Our shop has been ISO 9001 ceritified as long as I've been there. We recently got our AS9100 cert. But our small QC dept is now swamped with first articles off the floor, FAI's for customers with AS9100 paperwork, CMM inspections, parts having to be sent back for rework constantly because nobody knows how to deburr apparently...

The QC dept is basically on its own with little or no help from middle managment (QA manager is one of those off-site/part-time positions where they parachute in when there is an audit, but basically have no idea about our day-to-day operations or how to how to hold a micrometer).

so...I often find myself getting interrupted constantly in the middle of a CMM inspection to sign-off first articles off the floor. Frequently have to look up on our own whether or not a FAI with AS9100 paperwork is needed for the customer (who often don't even know themselves if they need FAI paperwork), etc..

I know this is probably not an unusual situation, with a lot of shops being small and family-owned.

but I would like to know if I want to move up and find a larger shop where there is a better division or labor and more resources for someone looking just to run a CMM...what's the minimum size shop I should be looking for? 50 employees? 100?

is it the same circus and only bigger? or does better organization naturally come with bigger size/resources, etc..?

Thanks.

1. The CMM operators at small places I've been have 10% CMM operator and the other 90% machinist or QC.
2. At larger (hundreds of employees, production) places they are either running several machines, or filling the down time in large programs with other part gauging while the machines run.
3. If you have a piece of information you routinely need (like if FAI with AS9100 paperwork is needed) then that should be included on a job traveler.
4. A few employers ago we stopped the issue of CMM operators leaving their machine idle because they were on the floor by making the operators bring parts to the inspection room. This assumes parts that are easily moved of course.
5. Cycle time has a lot to do with how dedicated vs. multi-tasking someone is. If it's a 30 second cycle on the CMM then you are constantly swapping parts, filling out paperwork, etc. If it's a 20 minute cycle then that employees is going to be doing something other than watching the machine run.

What is your goal in going to a bigger shop? What skills do you want to develop? I run into more issues with people not understanding GD&T or metrology principles than I do people not knowing how to program or operate the CMM. So, while I can see a benefit in decreasing the amount of running around and chasing paperwork you do, I don't see being CMM only (vs. say metrology only with a CMM mix in there) as being as useful.
 

Holescreek

Titanium
Joined
Aug 27, 2004
Location
Centerville,OH
A lot depends on the size of the company, the kind of products, and repetition.
The company I work for has 3 plants at one address. Each plant has it's own QC lab with 8 or 9 large Mitutoyo Crysta CMM's. Generally speaking 6 or 7 of the CMM's in each lab are dedicated to manufacturing for 1stpc and 8hour inspections. The person assigned to operate the CMM's each shift does not work for QC, they work for manufacturing and it's usually a different person each shift. Their job is to load the fixtures and start the programs. QC personnel only provide support if needed. The "extra" CMM's in each lab are used by QC personnel only for programming and running capability studies after machine adjustments.
The number of QC personnel varies by plant. Two plants have 6 and 8 QC people on days and 2 and 3 on night shift and the third has 3 and 2.
Manufacturing is responsible for hand gauging and CMM. QC provides support as needed to the floor but our own duties center around production and assembly support and product testing. We also operate all of the non-cmm equipment in the lab (optical scanners, contracing, surftest etc.) We also do daily audits in each of the areas of the plants. The CMM shift operator gets a printout of the results for their daily production reports and the data is also captured and stored on a separate server electronically.
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
I've seen a CMM and a dedicated inspector in shops as small as 4 machines.

Thanks, I know it's going to take some patience and find a place that's organized well, whether they're big or small. I don't have the resources to buy any equipment, but knowing what I know now....that would've been a good idea for me 10 years ago, when I had zero debt.
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
Yes, understand that in most all cases QC/QA is a add on cost.
It is not seen the same as machine time. It is non productive overhead so you are the red headed step-child and sometimes the in way of "get er done".....
In many cases the only reason you exist is some paperwork or QC standard.
Such is the life here be it right or wrong.
I am sort of a QC nut but find that not well accepted in most places so have learned a few lessons.
Management problem or floor problem? Sucks to have enemies on both sides but if quality control it will be your life, get well adjusted to it.
EVERYONE hates the inspector, up or down the chain for all kinds of reasons.
Tis the job as it is and I 100% understand the frustration. Will you stay or will you go to some other thing?
Maybe food truck or hot dogs?
Bob

We're an ISO9001 and AS9100 shop so there is a degree of understanding of how much QC and a QA system are needed. But I do wonder if the cost is passed onto our certified customers who need all this extra FAI paperwork, material traceability, etc...

in which case if the cost isn't passed on to the customer...yeah, we're probably seen as a drag and a nuisance.

I have noticed it's hard to find a proper Chicago style hot dog around here.
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
A lot depends on the size of the company, the kind of products, and repetition.
The company I work for has 3 plants at one address. Each plant has it's own QC lab with 8 or 9 large Mitutoyo Crysta CMM's. Generally speaking 6 or 7 of the CMM's in each lab are dedicated to manufacturing for 1stpc and 8hour inspections. The person assigned to operate the CMM's each shift does not work for QC, they work for manufacturing and it's usually a different person each shift. Their job is to load the fixtures and start the programs. QC personnel only provide support if needed. The "extra" CMM's in each lab are used by QC personnel only for programming and running capability studies after machine adjustments.
The number of QC personnel varies by plant. Two plants have 6 and 8 QC people on days and 2 and 3 on night shift and the third has 3 and 2.
Manufacturing is responsible for hand gauging and CMM. QC provides support as needed to the floor but our own duties center around production and assembly support and product testing. We also operate all of the non-cmm equipment in the lab (optical scanners, contracing, surftest etc.) We also do daily audits in each of the areas of the plants. The CMM shift operator gets a printout of the results for their daily production reports and the data is also captured and stored on a separate server electronically.

yup...I think a lot of my frustration is due to our size. We just ahve the one CMM and only the QC dept uses it. Maybe one of the machinists knows how to grab a radius if he needs to, but that's it.

We're still a pretty small shop and technically a "job shop". If we have an order over 30 parts, that's huge. I really hope we're charging for setup costs. Not unusual to see orders for only 2 or 3 parts sometimes.

We use the CMM less for in-process and more for customers who want to see CMM data with their AS9100 paperwork. Or the CMM is the only way we can check a part for ourselves, regardless of if the customer requires it.

We're seeing more reduced dimension drawings so the CMM gets used more and more. Customer requirements that get more complicated with each rev change. And smaller part runs don't help. Let's seem make the parts harder to make, but make fewer of them, with a crippling amount of paperwok?

But I guess any business is good business? right?
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
1

What is your goal in going to a bigger shop? .

I think I'm equating bigger shop with more resources, whether that be more QC personnel or better organization and workflow. It would be nice to be doing only two or three things at once instead of five or six things at the same time. Probably wishful thinking.

I'll settle for bigger shop = bigger and nicer bathrooms.
 

jccaclimber

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Location
San Francisco
I think I'm equating bigger shop with more resources, whether that be more QC personnel or better organization and workflow. It would be nice to be doing only two or three things at once instead of five or six things at the same time. Probably wishful thinking.

I'll settle for bigger shop = bigger and nicer bathrooms.

Bigger bathrooms mean more ****, which you could get at a bigger shop. Biggest place I worked had a bathroom so messy the plant manager threatened to weld the doors shut for 48 hours, pay the needed grievance fine, and make everyone walk to the far opposite end of the place. Of course we also had seasoned contractors let us know it was the dirtiest plant they had ever worked in. Something about testing 500k parts/year with oil, but not containing it well tends to make a real mess of things.

While there is some correlation, I'd focus more on the specific place than size. I can think of a 25 to 50 employee place in Detroit I used to use that has ~2 dedicated inspection guys. Management knows that you give them the drawing and parts, then leave them alone unless the building is burning down. Another shop I worked with the same size tended to use inspection more as a cost center that produced paperwork to make the customer be quiet, their inspectors were always pulled multiple ways.

On average I'd guess specialties tend to result in more resources per employee more than size (note, I'm an engineer often attached to a plant, not a shop employee). Places that have picky customers who actually pay to cover their picky nature tend to have good inspection. I'm curious how others feel about this though.
I've seen a lot of big places use their might to pinch pennies harder than the nearest alternative.
 

TeachMePlease

Diamond
Joined
Feb 11, 2014
Location
FL
If you want a shop that does inspection right, get into medical device. They're required by law to do it right. There's more money in it too.

tenor.gif
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
If you want a shop that does inspection right, get into medical device. They're required by law to do it right. There's more money in it too.

Been there. Done that. They had some DoD direct and sub-contracts as well. I guess they didn't do it right. They went out of business shortly after I left them. It was a pretty dysfunctional place. They were never really committed to the quality system.
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
While there is some correlation, I'd focus more on the specific place than size.

You're right. I'll have to visit other shops and see how they're orgainzed. and I'm sure I'll be able to spot the ones that are better run than others, regardless of size. I'm just hoping the larger shops are larger for a reason, and try to improve my odds...but I know there are family owned shops that are doing great also.
 

barbter

Diamond
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Location
On Tour...
1. The QC dept is basically on its own with little or no help from middle managment (QA manager is one of those off-site/part-time positions where they parachute in when there is an audit, but basically have no idea about our day-to-day operations or how to how to hold a micrometer).

2. Frequently have to look up on our own whether or not a FAI with AS9100 paperwork is needed for the customer (who often don't even know themselves if they need FAI paperwork), etc..


Thanks.
1. Sorry to hear this but typical.
As a point, I do believe the "company quality representative" HAS to be full time on site, when you're AS9100 accredited.
It is usually a flow down from the airframers...

2. ShitShow alert! This is a basic contract review requirement that MUST be sorted when the PO is recieved.
I would ask whoever does the contract review to sort this at the time of receiving the PO - and red pen/stamp your traveller/Job card with "AS9100 FAIR REQUIRED (or DELTA FAIR)" before releasing it for production.
Then you know where you stand when you receive the job for a first off...
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
One wonders if it would be best to eliminate the OP from his current employment.
Not liking it and unhappy.

let me this straight. I ask a very honest question (whether or not better organization, resources automatically follows as shops get larger) and describe my current situation (I know I'm not the only QC person with a difficult job) and then I answer questions from people legitimately interested in offering input and advice.

and YOU tell everyone I should be fired?

I guess only real law that is proven is that peope will take cheap shots and launch personal attacks in this forum.
 

barbter

Diamond
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Location
On Tour...
let me this straight. I ask a very honest question (whether or not better organization, resources automatically follows as shops get larger) and describe my current situation (I know I'm not the only QC person with a difficult job) and then I answer questions from people legitimately interested in offering input and advice.

and YOU tell everyone I should be fired?

I guess only real law that is proven is that peope will take cheap shots and launch personal attacks in this forum.

You took it the wrong way (IMHO).
Bob is saying for your own sanity... remove yourself (ie get another job!)
 

TGTool

Titanium
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Location
Stillwater, Oklahoma
You took it the wrong way (IMHO).
Bob is saying for your own sanity... remove yourself (ie get another job!)


A little obscure, but that's the way I understood it too. Fixing the organization is way out of qc-tech's control, but he can move himself to someplace without all that aggravation.
 

qc_tech

Plastic
Joined
Feb 17, 2011
Location
USA
You took it the wrong way (IMHO).
Bob is saying for your own sanity... remove yourself (ie get another job!)

If that's the the case...completely redundant comment.

I thought it was pretty obvious from my original post....I am looking for another job and hoping a bigger shop might mean better organization and resources. unless that whole idea is pie in the sky, unicorn...pick your metaphor.

saying I should be separated from my job sounds a lot like terminating someone without cause, in HR lingo, to me.
 








 
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