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How Automation and Integration Benefit Connecting Rod Inspection

Rotary Air Bearing inspection system+Vantage Corporation has decades of experience as a single-source supplier and systems integrator for assembly, placement and inspection systems. Today, we want to focus on one of our more specialized applications. Read on to learn how we take a fully bespoke approach in each system we design.

What are Connecting Rods?

Connecting rods are one of the most integral components to an internal combustion engine, connecting the piston to the crankshaft. This converts the linear motion of the piston into rotary motion through the driveshaft. Connecting rods will undergo millions, if not billions, of cycles in their operational lifetime, and precise quality control during the manufacturing process is necessary to sustain these standards and the stresses the rods will take.

+Vantage Automation is Designed for Your Needs

We’ve been manufacturing connecting rod inspection systems for OEMs and tier one manufacturers for over 15 years. During this time, input from manufacturers, users, and our own engineering staff has informed our approach every step of the way. Chief among the complaints we uncovered were the following:

  • Lack of gage repeatability
  • Roundness and cylindricity not meeting specification
  • Invasive surface inspection techniques
  • Difficulty supporting and maintaining the equipment with on-site personnel

To address these problems, +Vantage designed highly modular, integrated, and standard-compliant connecting rod systems we offer today.

Building a Better Inspection System

The solutions to these challenges begin not with design and manufacturing, but with a fundamental shift in methodology. +Vantage is not what you might find from a singular sensor or tooling OEM. We began with ensuring ISO and ANSI standard compliance across inspection, data filtration, data structure, and manufacturer recommendations for usage of their tools.

Connecting rod inspection system GUI

This is followed up with highly visual interfaces, making HMI a core design consideration rather than an afterthought. Our interfaces allow you to zoom in on areas of interest, and perform dynamic 360-degree sweeps to cover the full part geometry.

Precision Roundness Checking

The +Vantage Standard Connecting Rod Inspection System begins with two high-precision rotary air bearing servo-controlled spindles for diameter and roundness checking. Through our partnership with New Way Air Bearings, these non-contact bearings are accurate to a runout of 0.000050mm, and each spindle carries 3 transducers.

The spindles are mounted to a common rail to ensure parallelism, and the datum pallets can be easily replaced by a single operator. The rotary stage is accurate down to 1.5 arcseconds. The transducers measure radial displacement and use ruby contacts to avoid part marking. In line with our commitment to ease of maintenance, the contacts are replaceable through a standard M2.5 thread, and the entire unit is mounted on a 3mm ball, which is standard for most CMMs.

All of our inspection capabilities are performed through fully inline operational gages. In order to best fit your existing processes and workflows, these can be configured as fully automatic, semi-automatic, or operator loaded.

Bolt Hole Inspection

Our bolt hole inspection system represented a unique challenge for connecting rod quality assurance. We’d heard loud and clear from our customers that CMMs are too time-consuming and ill equipped for inline measurement on the factory floor, and simply too expensive for the envisioned usage case.

 Bolt hole diameter inspection stage

Vantage utilized existing XY positioning systems, taking 3 precision gage balls to center the gage tip within the bore. The gage tip itself has a spherical pivot to follow the path of the bore, and the swivel movement is measured along XY coordinate using two separate gage probes.

Thickness, Flatness, Web Depth and Profile

For these measurements, we needed to overcome the challenges often associated with CMMs and drop gages. OEMs wanting to move towards fully automated production and inspection had several major issues:

  • Machines are too expensive
  • Measurement is too slow
  • Drop gauges are too operator dependent

Our system utilizes 5mm range probes to establish a datum plane through a best fit plane algorithm (identical to a CMM). Fully retractable transducers avoid damage during the loading stage, while allowing for complete web depth measurement relative to the previously calculated datum.

Comprehensive Inspection and Display

Multiple other test instruments were designed and integrated for connecting rod inspection, including lock notch diameter and position measurement (without wires to potentially tangle) as well as bushing depth and chamfer depth gauges. Finally, all of our systems connect to simple, visual interfaces for moment-by-moment inspection of results.

Automate with Us!

If you want to learn more about our connecting rod inspection systems, or already have an application in mind for your production workflow, please contact us today so we can discuss what +Vantage Corporation can do for you!


    Brandon White

  • DATE

    May 17, 2022

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