Quality Assurance Lead at CARR Machine & Tool
Mike Long got his first taste of manufacturing in high school, but then burned out on school. After being stuck in retail for eight years, he felt he had no life. He made the choice to go back into manufacturing,
And it was the best decision I ever made professionally and personally. His accomplishments now include helping CARR Machine & Tool achieve AS9100 certification, and now Long is looking for more digital metrology solutions at IMTS.
High Quality Parts, High Quality Life
Having attended 12 IMTS shows since his first trip in high school in 1996, Mike Long can't wait to walk the halls of IMTS again.
I know I'm going to be blown away by what I see in the Quality Assurance Pavilion, from scanning to touch probes to optical comparators and even just hand tools for metrology, says Long, Quality Assurance Lead for CARR Machine & Tool, a precision machine shop in Elk Grove, Ill.
Being on the cutting edge of technology is very important because we need to be able to have every avenue possible to meet customer requirements. If we don't have that, it's a three-fold risk: we risk not getting work, we risk losing repeat work and we risk falling behind. We never want to be complacent.
There is literally no substitute for quality at CARR Machine, particularly with aerospace and defense clients that have ‘an astronaut's life depends on the quality of your work’ marked in the flow down requirements of its purchase orders. In a win for everyone involved, Long combines the experience of a machinist and the skills of a metrologist to ensure CARR Machine doesn't just hold tight tolerances, but also produces parts efficiently.
Long got his first taste of manufacturing in high school, but after four years of metals class and one year of college, he was burned out on school. He started working retail and
got stuck for eight years. He felt he had no life for himself and, working long hours and holidays, didn't even see how he could create a future for a wife and kids.
To have the kind of life that I wanted, I needed to do something that felt rewarding and that I enjoy doing at the same time. I made the choice to go back into manufacturing, and it was the best decision I ever made professionally and personally, says Long.
I've been able to go back and get an education through college. I've been able to do more on-the-job and online training, and my peers have taught me a lot of things. I've also been able to have my life. I'm happily married. I accomplished a lot of my goals due to manufacturing.
From Shop to Lab
Long now has 12 years of experience running 3- and 4-axis machines and has been with CARR Machine since 2019. He moved into the quality role in 2020 when the company wanted to elevate its manufacturing technology and achieve AS9100 certification, a quality system required to pursue aerospace and defense work.
When we were starting to go through the AS9100 alignment process, I approached company president Jim Carr and let him know that I had a really good background in ISO 9001 from my previous company and wanted to help CARR Machine step up, says Long.
Jim supported that move, and since then I have taken on the role of running AS9100 for the company and being able to be the Quality Assurance Lead for CARR Machine. I've been able to elevate myself to a new level and take on a different role that benefits the company as a whole.
CARR Machine achieved AS9100:D certification in April 2021. Long credits the company's ERP provider, ProShop ERP with support, saying,
They have an implementation specialist that helped align our ERP system and our quality practices with AS9100.
CARR Machine also modernized its metrology capabilities with the addition of an 8-axis FARO Quantum series arm that combines the measurement capabilities of a FaroArm portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) with the non-contact functionality of a laser line probe.
The touch probe and scanning capabilities are two different ball games, and the scanning feature is a huge game changer when it comes to a lot of geometric, dimensioning, and tolerancing work that a lot of service profiles call out, says Long. If a part doesn't have a dimension called out, Long can scan it with the 3D scanner to see how close the actual part is compared the solid model and instantaneously see if it differentiates from nominal.
The portability of the FARO system enables me to take it onto the shop floor to inspect parts in process. I can even check some critical dimensions or features while the part is still in the machine, adds Long.
By making adjustments as necessary on the shop floor, we keep making chips instead of creating downtime by bringing parts to the metrology room.
CARR Machine also added a Keyence IM-7030 automated optical comparator that can perform up to 99 dimensional measurements in 3 seconds or less at the push of a button. The unit also automatically records measurement data and creates detailed inspection reports.
We can look at small radii, chamfers, and small part features and get the most accurate reading possible with the Keyence, says Long.
It takes a matter of seconds in order to give us all the data we need.
At IMTS, Long will be looking for equipment to build out the metrology lab. A large bridge-type CMM is high on his list because of its ability to measure dimensions within 0.0001 in.
I want to see if exhibitors have incorporated scanning capabilities with a CMM so that we can provide our customers with the most accurate readings possible,” says Long.
Of course, as a former machinist, Long will also spend plenty of time in the Metal Removal Pavilion, where technology continues to amaze him.
A couple of my favorite memories from IMTS over the years are when I first saw the giant FANUC robot on the floor bench pressing a car, says Long.
That was one of the coolest things in the world, and seeing that to me was like, ‘Wow, that's what the future's going to be.’ One of the other amazing things was seeing my first 5-axis demonstration at IMTS 2000 or 2002. It was like a symphony. Even to this day, when CARR Machine makes parts on a 5-axis machine, I could just stand there and watch it. I think, ‘Holy God, that's amazing.’ I love it, and that's why I'm still drawn to manufacturing to this day.