Four buildings covering a total surface area of 20,000 m², four assembly halls each measuring 1,200 m² sitting on a site covering 35,000 m²... The Gonzales group, founded in 1971, has forged a solid reputation through its know-how, flexibility and reactivity as well as the quality of the services it provides. A designer and manufacturer of top-quality industrial equipment for major national and international customers, the company has successfully developed its know-how and reached the very summit of technicality in its specific fields of activity which include, among others, mechanised welding; the welding of steel, stainless steel and aluminium; precision mechanics; and large-scale machining. With a wide range of activities, Gonzales is present in all the sectors of industry, such as the tyre industry, the aerospace industry, the electric and hydroelectric sectors, the railway industry, etc.
The teams of engineers and technicians at Gonzales identify the different needs in discussion with their customers before working together to implement the resources necessary to design and realise their projects. Quality remains one of the key words governing the company in its desire to ensure that the contractor is fully satisfied. The production of parts offering high added value requires the highest possible level of precision throughout the manufacturing process. Within this framework, the company is constantly developing its pool of machines and inspection tools.
When their measuring arm, used in conjunction with CMM and measuring columns, became obsolete in terms of the precision offered, Gonzales implemented a restructuring of its three-dimensional inspection strategy. Jean-Marc Ancelle, General Manager of Gonzales, explains: “Our customers are becoming more demanding and our contracts have reached a higher technological level, requiring a greater level of precision. Our teams are constantly endeavouring to take the manufacturing process to the next level. We wanted to withdraw from the field of metrologists in order to involve and train the machinists by giving them the means to carry out auto-inspections”. Auto-inspection by operators within the workshop goes hand in hand with precision and quality, demonstrating a desire to provide an accomplished and optimised level of work throughout the manufacturing process.
To achieve this objective, the specifications required a simple software package which would be easy for “non-metrologists” to use and a measuring device which was not only precise and versatile but which would enable three-dimensional inspections to be carried out directly on the machine without needing to disassemble the part. The machine needed to be both portable and quick and easy to set up in order to optimise the inspection time.
During the benchmarking process, the different suppliers were asked to provide a measuring campaign and comparative tests using different standard elements in order to validate the choice for the most precise measuring tool on the market. The ROMER Absolute Arm achieved the best levels of precision for the entire project.
The simplicity and user-friendliness of the software meant that all the operators can remain autonomous and reactive throughout the inspection process. The precision of the measuring arm was a key element in the choice of supplier. “We quickly turned to Hexagon Metrology as we were already familiar with its products and services and also because it was the only supplier offering a full range of highly interesting products. We were looking for a partner with a view to long-term collaboration within the framework of our new strategy,” explains Marc Gabon, head of dimensional control at Gonzales.
The new ROMER Absolute Arm received unanimous approval during its initial presentation: being able to move the measuring tool and going beyond the traditional measurement possibilities while enjoying the advantages of a quick and easy-to-use tool offering ultra-precise results perfectly satisfied the specifications. Use of the absolute encoders on the ROMER Absolute Arm optimises the implementation and inspection time which is essential to using the arm at Gonzales. The company manager, Jean-Marc Ancelle, states that their objective is to “give employees and operators more responsibility and thus more importance in order to push the limits back even further both upstream and downstream. By giving the turning and machining operators the capacity to perform inspections, the plant is not only changing the mentality of the operators but is also making them become more involved in their task.”
In light of the advantages offered by its portable design, the measuring arm will soon be used to take measurements on other Gonzales sites. “We intend to make the ROMER Absolute Arm absolutely essential within the plant and to ensure that our strategy becomes part and parcel of our employees’ mindset. The partnership with Hexagon Metrology, their commercial proximity and the support they offer with regard to our approach is absolutely crucial,” concludes the General Manager of Gonzales.