The well-known super-yacht builder Sunseeker has eliminated the difficulties associated with alignment and positioning by purchasing two complementary laser-based technologies; these have enabled it to significantly reduce build times and to further develop its renowned quality standards.
In order to remain at the technical ‘cutting edge’ of the boat-building industry, the Poole-based company’s management continuously searches for innovative new production and inspection aids. For example, thanks to his extensive Indy-Car and Formula One design experience, composite development manager Stuart Jones was aware of the advantages that laser-based technologies from Rugby-based Faro Technologies UK Ltd (www.faro.com
) deliver across various classes of motor-sport, so he was confident that its products could give Sunseeker improved levels of speed and precision at all stages of a build; an on-site demonstration of a Faro Laser Tracker and a Faro Laser Projection system confirmed his thoughts.
Put through its paces in the presence of a group of Sunseeker staff, the Faro equipment proved its accuracy, speed and ease of use — plus its ability to considerably reduce build times. A rapid return on investment was calculated, and an order was placed for a Faro VantageE Laser Tracker, four Faro TracerM Laser Projectors and Faro’s CAM2 software.
Explaining the use of Sunseeker’s new Laser Tracker, Mr Jones said: “Having previously used conventional — and time-consuming — means of measurement and inspection, we have made a quantum leap with our Vantage Laser Tracker. We can now rapidly and accurately capture the 3-D base geometry of — for example — our super-yacht hulls and our large composite components to ensure that they adhere to the data generated by our design and manufacturing software.
“Data from the Laser Tracker is then used by the Faro Laser Projectors to project a variety of key datums, templates and location positions onto our hulls, allowing the precise fitting of key components during the build.” Additional uses
Mr Jones added: “Within days of using the Laser Tracker to capture the base geometry of hulls and large composite components, we discovered a multitude of other uses for it. For instance, we found that, as it was an extremely precise and effective co-ordinate measurement system, we could use it to accurately compare many other key components against their original software models; also, because of its relatively low weight, portability and robust construction, we can take this equipment to our suppliers to assist in identifying problems and taking the relevant rectification measures.
“As many of our parts have relatively tight tolerances, our tracker routines allow us to accurately detect and quantify any deflection or change in the geometrical shape of components — such as hulls — that could cause later assembly issues.
“The use of the precise data gathered by our Laser Tracker means that we can take early corrective action and avoid more problematic issues later in the build process.”
The Vantage Laser Tracker’s features include ActiveSeek, which allows it to find and follow the target, even when the user passes behind an obstruction. In addition, a particularly wide field of view gives the user complete freedom to move throughout a large measurement envelope.
Furthermore, Faro’s sixth-generation iADM (integrated Absolute Distance Measurement) system ensures a high level of accuracy, while a data output rate of 1,000 points/sec means that the Vantage provides feedback for high-speed motion control and high-density scanning, allowing it to be used for automated applications.
Regarding Sunseeker’s purchase of four Faro TracerM Laser Projectors, Mr Jones said: “We identified several key potential applications for these projectors, and a practical demonstration of them operating in these areas proved their high-precision and speed capabilities.
“We now use them to project precise virtual templates that enable datums to be marked. This allows the very accurate location of critical components such as bulkheads, longitudinal elements, stringers and engine beds. The use of the Faro projections means that we can quickly and accurately complete the ‘right first time’ positioning of these important features in all three dimensions. The precision we achieve in establishing an accurate, solid base at this stage of a boat’s build provides many benefits later in the process.” Shorter build times
In addition to the accuracy benefits provided by these projectors, they have significantly reduced Sunseeker’s build times, as Mr Jones highlights. “The installation of wire-looms on our deck liners is a typical example of where time savings have been achieved. Previously, two people would have manually marked out the cable routes with a tape measure and marker pens prior to fitting the looms.
“Now, the Tracers project our wire-loom design model onto the deck-liner’s surface; the cable mounts and looms are then fitted in one fast and accurate procedure.”
Faro launched the TracerM Laser Projectors to remove the need for physical templates, eliminate the risk of human errors and reduce the delays associated with the alignment and assembly of large components. TracerM uses customers’ existing 3-D CAD models to project a 0.5mm-wide laser line onto a 2-D or 3-D target surface or object, creating an extremely accurate virtual template that enables the fast and accurate positioning of components with absolute confidence.
The system features precise long-range projection capabilities that cover an envelope up to 15.2 ¥ 15.2m. For larger assemblies and for use in space-constrained areas, multiple projectors can be controlled from one workstation to provide large-scale virtual templates within a single co-ordinate system.
The TracerM uses BuildIT Projector, an easy-to-use intuitive software solution that can import native CAD from ‘all major formats’. The capabilities of this software cover the creation of the projections, together with the configuration and operation of the projectors and their alignment features.
Steve Efford, Sunseeker’s manufacturing engineering manager, concluded: “Our association with Faro has been extremely productive. We have been very impressed by the efficiency and precision gains made through the use of Faro’s technology, and every application we have used our new Faro equipment on has sparked new thoughts for additional tracking and projecting opportunities. To further exploit the potential of the Faro equipment, we are already working on several future projects.”