Mike Halliday introduces us to what reverse engineering is and how our customers can benefit.
What is reverse engineering?
Reverse engineering is the process of extracting knowledge or design information from a manufactured part in order to reproduce it. The process can be done in two ways: manually or using computerised methods.
The manual process uses verniers or micrometers to take measurements and then hand-sketching the part for an urgent repair job. Alternatively, an operative uses the hardware (a FARO Arm or portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM)) to take the measurements of a part and the software (CAD or CAM systems) reconstructs it as a 3D model. The model is then converted into an engineering drawing which can be manufactured in the machine shop, or the model loaded into the CAM system and a program written by the machinist.
Portable measuring technology enables design engineers to deliver reverse engineering solutions quickly. The portable CMM can easily and accurately meet a variety of dimensional measurement needs including on-machine and in-line inspection at customer site and CAD comparison, to ensure proper tolerances and machine alignment.
The benefits of reverse engineering
Reduce the risk associated with legacy systems
Reverse engineering reduces the risk associated with legacy systems. Customers may struggle to source accurate and high-quality change-out parts for their legacy machines in a timely manner. In many cases, machines may be out of life span and no longer supported by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) so parts may be discontinued.
Reverse engineering allows manufacturers to improve their machines and processes, implementing innovations or new processes tailored for their specific use. It can also enable them to document how the efficiency, power, and even lifespan of equipment can be improved.
By reverse engineering business-critical components before they fail, manufacturers can reduce their production downtime by stocking spares or undertaking planned rather than breakdown scenario maintenance. Reverse engineering parts removed from a process can be conducted in planned downtime, the manufacture of replacement/spares can be on the way whilst the plant is running and replaced on the next planned downtime.
OEM parts may have long lead times and be subject to premium costs. Reverse engineering the parts is a way for the manufacturer to have a drawing and part produced for a fraction of the time it takes to ship in the parts and the associated cost.
Examples of reverse engineering at DRB
DRB have modified a gearbox for a customer to improve its output and efficiency.
Figure 1.0 – Gearbox engineering drawing
DRB have reverse engineered a die set for a customer. The OEM die set drawings were not available because of their age. DRB drew up the parts to be able to offer out-of-lifespan spares.
Figure 2.0 – Die set pillars
About DRB Group
For more than 40 years, we’ve been a trusted partner to production, processing, and heavy industrial customers in the North West. Our 120-strong team support maintenance, project, and operational teams to develop bespoke solutions for new and existing systems to keep their critical plant running efficiently. We do this with technical intelligence and practical experience. We design, manufacture, and build an extensive range of systems and components from machines that safely and swiftly uncouple train wheels from their axles, to refurbishing and adapting complex food packaging conveyor systems, all from our 6.5-acre factory in North Wales.