Subscribe Button 1

Wide-Area CMM Aids Machine Shop Diversification Into Aerospace Market

Coastal Machine & Supply, an experienced US-based manufacturer of precision, custom machined parts for the oil and gas industry, has used its investment in a Keyence WM series wide-area CMM (coordinate measuring machine) to help it diversify into the aerospace market. In particular, the CMM simplifies the extensive GD&T requirements associated with the machining of aerospace components.

Located in Carencro, Louisiana, the 37,200 ft2 (3,456 m2) facility of Coastal Machine is home to a wide selection of the latest CNC machining centers and lathes. Formed in 2004, the 50-employee company prides itself on the quality of its machined parts, where accuracy and precision are key to business success.

The Need to Diversify

“While we’ve always served the oil and gas industry, over past two years we’ve consciously been diversifying into other markets, including aerospace and defense, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic and how it affected the oil and gas sector,” explains Operations Manager Kody Guidry.

A traditional part of Coastal Machine’s business is the production of long downhole oil and gas parts, some of which can be up to 240 inch (6 m) long.

“Historically, we measured the overall length of these components using a tape measure or by stacking up scales,” explains Guidry. “However, for one contract we sent some parts to a premium threading shop and they were using a Keyence WM series wide-area CMM, which immediately sparked our interest. It was an easy decision to invest as we knew immediately that we could easily check our long parts to tight tolerances far more easily than with hand tools. “Today, we use a macro in the WM for checking overall length, which takes the operator through the measurement process in a simple and user-friendly way.”

Ideal for Large Parts

With its large 10 m (32.8 ft) measuring range, the Keyence WM series wide-area CMM can be a better option for large parts than a CMM arm, bridge CMM, laser tracker or hand tools, all of which suffer from restricted measurement area, the requirement for highly trained operators and difficulty in allowing single-person inspection.

The shop-floor-ready, portable WM series performs precision measurement via its triple-camera tracking system that captures near-infrared light emitted by seven probe markers. As a result, users benefit from a high-accuracy of ±28μm (±0.001 inch), even over a large area. The WM Series offers ease-of-use as the wireless probe allows for part measurement without restrictions, while the probe’s touchscreen facilitates the same operations that were previously performed on a separate computer. Low cost of ownership is another advantage as the device performs self-calibration before measurement, so there are no costs for training, support or ongoing maintenance.

Although the checking of long components for the oil and gas sector was Coastal Machine’s original requirement for the Keyence WM, the CMM’s capability and versatility led to the company finding further uses for the device.

GD&T Made Easy

“It helped us to accelerate our diversification into the aerospace market as we didn’t have a CMM previously,” states Guidry. “Today, the primary use for our WM is performing GD&T measurements on aerospace parts. The system is ideal for GD&T inspection, even while the component remains in the machine tool.”

As the aerospace and defense industry grows, Coastal Machine is able to position its expertise and equipment in a way that helps to fulfill the needs of the sector and give value to clients, while simultaneously forming part of the next frontier of design and manufacturing.

“We’ve had the Keyence WM for just over a year and we work it hard,” says Guidry. “We are busier than ever and currently in a growth phase. Our processes and systems ensure we get repeat business, and investment in the latest technology is a big part of that.”

Cost Savings

The wide-area CMM recently saved Coastal Machine the cost and time of remanufacturing parts that one customer claimed were incorrect.

“We sent some long oil industry parts to a client who checked them with scales and tried to refuse them, stating they were out of tolerance,” explains Guidry. “So we double-checked them with our Keyence WM, which confirmed the parts as correct. The customer conceded to our superior measurement technology and passed them through.”

Component quality is a primary goal of Coastal Machine, which guarantees defect-free products. The company is certified to ISO9001 and AS9100 Rev D, registered to API Q1 and ITAR, and carries two API threading licenses. “We have an unwavering commitment to product quality,” concludes Guidry. “However, our investment in the Keyence WM series wide- area CMM allows us to be even more accurate with our measurements, taking the company’s quality to new levels of excellence.”

For more information: