Paperless Inspection


An idea whose time has come


Paperless inspection is a powerful concept. It means that users can eliminate the endless flow of paper between their design and quality departments. It also means that by doing so they can eliminate a major source of errors and bottlenecks in their inspection processes. Finally, it holds out the promise of ending many of the problems associated with version control. Wilcox Associates Inspection Planner makes paperless inspection a reality. It’s worth considering how it helps in each of these areas.

Managing the flow of information between design and quality is a daunting task. In a typical installation, design engineers convey their intent by marking up drawings of their parts. These drawings then wend their way to the inspectors in any number of ways. At best, the process is inefficient, and at worst, it just doesn’t work. There are just too many ways for information to be lost or misdirected. Inspection Planner ends all this. Here’s how.

Instead of marking up a hard copy drawing of a part, the designer electronically marks up the CAD model. This information, called an inspection plan, becomes an integral part of the model. When PC-DMIS accesses one of these files it recognizes that it includes a plan and uses it as the basis for building a part program. Design intent automatically flows from the designer to the quality department. No paper changes hands.

Using these techniques greatly reduces the potential for data entry errors and misinterpretation in part inspection. Design intent moves from the CAD system to the inspection system in digital format. The problems associated with entering the wrong information into measurement software or with misreading a designer’s notes no longer exist. Plus, because the inspection requirements are part of the CAD file, inspection equipment no longer sits idle while programmers try to figure out what to inspect on a part and how different features relate to each other. The information is there and always available.

Change control has always been the holy grail of Metrology Systems. Customers are constantly asking, “How can I be sure that my CMM programs are measuring my parts according to the latest specification?” Until now, the answer has not been very encouraging in spite of the millions of dollars spent by companies large and small. Inspection Planner changes all that. It maintains links between the CAD model, the inspection plan and the measurement program(s). So, if a designer revises a model, the inspection plan changes.  Since the inspection plan is the basis of the resultant part program, the user can tell PC-DMIS to update the program based on the revised inspection plan and automatically flag and/or accept the changes. By virtue of this automatic process, no longer do customers have to worry about rejecting good parts or, worse yet, accepting bad parts because they didn’t have the correct part information.

Inspection Planner removes paper from the process of inspection. In doing so, it also removes most of the major causes of error, confusion and lost time. It provides a direct, seamless link between the design engineer and the inspection equipment.