A leading designer and manufacturer of stainless-steel valves and fittings for the container tank industry that enable the safe transportation of liquids, powders, and gases, Burnley-based Fort Vale Engineering Ltd
maintains total control over all its processes. The company’s in-house resources include design and development, a modern foundry, advanced manufacturing facilities, and comprehensive inspection and testing capabilities.
Moreover, the nature of the global industries that Fort Vale serves — including tank manufacturers, tank operators, repair depots, and oil terminals, along with the need to ensure that gases and liquids are transported safely by road, rail, and sea — mean that product quality is of paramount importance to all at the company.
ISO 9001:2015-registered Fort Vale’s rigorous quality standards and precision requirements meant that when the purchase of a new coordinate measuring machine (CMM) was being considered, a detailed list of system requirements was compiled. In addition to high accuracy being a prerequisite, the large volumes of parts constantly passing through the company’s inspection department meant that speed and ease of use were also major considerations; and because the CMM would be used to inspect a diverse range of components — from small complex parts to large castings — capacity and flexibility were also important factors.
The CMM subsequently selected was a Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex EX 1200R-series machine from Andover-based Mitutoyo (UK) Ltd
. This CNC machine offers a measuring capacity of 1,200 x 2,000 x 1,000mm, came equipped with a Renishaw REVO five-axis scanning probe head, and considerably increased Fort Vale’s inspection efficiencies and speed of component throughput by performing rapid, fully automated inspection routines. Mitutoyo UK also designed and installed a bespoke CMM enclosure to enable the high-precision machine to operate within a pristine and controlled environment.
Explaining the purchase and use of the Mitutoyo CMM, Fort Vale’s Andy Bryce said: “Fort Vale products conform to all current international standards and have earned a global reputation for their premium quality; and to help ensure the consistently high-quality of our products, the materials we use, and our manufacturing activities, we work closely with a range of regulatory bodies.
Moreover, to further guarantee the quality of our output we operate several in-house test facilities and give our quality staff access to a wide range of advanced inspection aids — such as the Crysta-Apex EX-series CMM, which is one of only a handful of such machines operating in the UK.
“Since its installation, this Mitutoyo CMM has become the main workhorse of our quality department. As well as its impressive accuracy allowing the inspection of our highest-precision tightest-tolerance parts, the CMM’s speed of operation and automated CNC operation mean it can process large volumes of inspection work each day.”
Andy Fifield, Mitutoyo (UK)’s measurement services manager, added: “When launched, Mitutoyo’s Crysta-Apex EX-series of CMMs equipped with Renishaw’s REVO five-axis scanning probe heads created a new standard for measurement excellence. The resulting five-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 can give improved inspection access to complex workpieces — and save a significant amount of time during programming and while performing measuring routines.
“The Crysta-Apex EX-series’ ultra-high-speed five-axis scanning capabilities far exceed that of CMMs with conventional three-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. Furthermore, the REVO system uses synchronised motion and five-axis measurement technology to minimise the dynamic effects of CMM motion at ultra-high measurement speeds.”