Pace and precision at Fort Vale

Based in Burnley, Lancashire, Fort Vale Engineering Ltd is a world leader in the design and manufacture of stainless steel valves and fittings for the container tank industry that enable the safe transportation of liquids, powders and gases. Fort Vale maintains total control over all of its processes. In-house resources include advanced design and development capabilities, a modern in-house foundry, cutting-edge manufacturing facilities and a comprehensive inspection and testing provision.

Due to the nature of the global industries Fort Vale serves, including tank manufacturers, tank operators, repair depots and oil terminals, and the need to ensure that gases and liquids are transported safely by road, rail and sea, the quality of the company’s products is of paramount importance to all at Fort Vale.

muk-fort-vale-revo.jpgGiven the ISO 9001:2015 registered business’ rigorous quality standards and demanding precision requirements, when the purchase of a new Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) was considered, a demanding list of system requirements was compiled. In addition to the proposed CMM’s high-accuracy specification being a prerequisite, the large volumes of parts constantly passing through the company’s busy inspection department meant that speed and ease of use were also major considerations. Furthermore, as the CMM would be used to inspect a diverse range of components, from small complex parts to large castings, the capacity and flexibility of the planned machine were also important factors.

After researching the available brands and models, the high-specification CMM that best matched the company’s demanding criteria was a Mitutoyo CRYSTA-Apex EX 1200R series machine equipped with a Renishaw REVO 5-axis scanning probe head. Boasting a generous xyz capacity of 1200mm x 2000mm x 1000mm, the advanced Mitutoyo CMM was able to accommodate even the largest of Fort Vale’s components. The state-of-the-art Mitutoyo CNC machine was also able to considerably increase the company’s inspection efficiencies and speed of component throughput by performing rapid, fully automated inspection routines.

Owing to Fort Vale’s demanding accuracy requirements, in addition to supplying the CRYSTA-Apex EX 1200R CMM and REVO 5-axis scanning probe head, Mitutoyo UK also designed and installed a bespoke CMM enclosure to enable the high-precision machine to operate within a pristine, environmentally controlled environment.

Explaining the purchase and use of the Mitutoyo CMM Andy Bryce said. “Fort Vale products conform to all current international standards and have earned a global reputation for their premium quality. To help ensure the consistent high-quality of our designs, the materials we use and our manufacturing activities we continue to work closely with a range of regulatory bodies. In addition, to further guarantee the quality of our output we operate several in-house test facilities, and our skilled quality staff have access to a wide range of advanced inspection aids.“

“Reflecting the importance Fort Vale place on the quality of our products and the company’s willingness to invest inthe best available inspection equipment, our cutting-edge CRYSTA-Apex EX Series Coordinate Measuring Machine is one of only a handful of such advanced Mitutoyo machines operating in the UK.“

“Since its installation our Mitutoyo CMM has become the main workhorse of our quality department. As well as its impressive accuracy specification allowing the inspection of our highest-precision, tightest-tolerance parts, the CMM’s impressive speed of action and automated CNC operation, means that it is able to process impressive volumes of inspection work each day.“

muk-fort-vale-revo2.jpgAndy Fifield Mitutoyo UK Measurement Services Manager added. “When launched Mitutoyo’s CRYSTA-Apex EX Series of Coordinate Measuring Machines, equipped with Renishaw’s innovative REVO 5-axis scanning probe heads, created a new standard for measurement excellence. The resulting 5-axis operation significantly reduces the time required for probe repositioning movements and allows more flexible positioning. In addition, the use of the REVO scanning head enables improved inspection access to complex workpieces and also saves significant amounts of time during programming and in the course of performing measuring routines.“

“The CRYSTA-Apex EX Series’ ultra-high-speed 5-axis scanning capabilities far exceeds that of CMMs with conventional 3-axis controls and allows the rapid sampling of up to 4,000 points per second, enabling the capture of densely spaced measurement points even when performing fast scanning routines. In addition, the REVO system uses synchronised motion and 5-axis measurement technology to minimise the dynamic effects of CMM motion at ultra-high measurement speeds.“

“When tasked with suggesting a CMM solution to Fort Vale’s challenging inspection needs, we were confident that a CRYSTA-Apex EX Series machine was the ideal answer, as the advanced, high-precision CMM’s feature the kind of state-of-the-art-technology, necessary for performing very accurate measurements at high speed.”