Racing places high demands on engine makers – also regarding measuring technology. At its Bruck site Pankl Racing Systems therefore replaced almost manual measuring equipment with ZEISS measuring machines and saved up to 80 percent of measuring times.
"Lighter, more reliable and better quality," says Mario Pichler, Head of Quality Assurance at Pankl Engine Systems, describing the constantly growing demands of Formula 1 motorsport teams on engine components. The engineers at Pankl are therefore tasked with designing parts so that they are as light as possible, yet able to withstand extreme forces on the track: "It is often a thin line between weight and sustainability," says Pichler.
To push the boundaries of technology, a lot also has to be measured – not least during the production process. Until a few years ago, Pankl mainly used manual measuring equipment for these in-process measurements. "This took a lot of time and was largely dependent on the skills of the employees," remembers Pichler.
With the primary goal of accelerating in-process measurements and make them reproducible, Pankl decided to test the DuraMax 3D coordinate measuring machine from ZEISS. The compact measuring machine is insensitive to mechanical vibrations and temperature fluctuations, making it ideal for use in the production environment. The metrology engineers were also familiar with the ZEISS CALYPSO measuring software.
"The ZEISS DuraMax was simply a plug & play option for us," says Pichler. The measuring technicians transferred existing measuring programs to the machine, the first workpieces measured and test operations begun. "However, within two weeks, they no longer wanted to do without the measuring machine. The decision had been made: we were keeping it," reports Pichler.
"Before ZEISS DuraMax, we needed six different gauges and an altimeter with five different fixtures to reach everything."Mario Pichler, Head of Quality Assurance at Pankl Engine Systems
The ZEISS DuraMax coordinate measuring machine allows Pankl to reduce its measuring times by up to 80 percent. Example: milling of the contours on a connecting rod. According to the test report, around 80 features have to be measured. Prior to the ZEISS DuraMax era, the employees needed one hour and twenty minutes to do this job. Today, the workpiece is clamped onto the ZEISS DuraMax which then measures all required values in just 15 minutes. Projected on to the numerous process steps and initial sample inspections, this results in considerable savings at the production level for Pankl.
The introduction of the ZEISS DuraMax had a further benefit: as the measuring machine can be directly used in the production environment, Pankl receives a high degree of certainty about the quality of its own products at an early stage. Pankl has since purchased four of the compact measuring machines.
Pankl Racing Systems AG headquartered in Kapfenburg, Austria, specializes in lightweight components designed to withstand extreme mechanical stress. The company has around 1150 employees around the world who develop, produce and distribute engine and drive systems, as well as chassis parts for motorsport, luxury cars and helicopters. Pankl manufactured its first connecting rods for motorsport back in 1985. Today, the company's racing division is the market-leading supplier of engine and drive systems.