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BuildIT Software

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BuildIT Software Helps Nova Bus

Building a better bus

Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 16:27

Located near Montreal, Canada, the Nova Bus manufacturing team was routinely building many hundreds of complete bus frames per year. Production grew as new models were introduced. The addition of a new diesel electric hybrid design necessitated a re-examination of the quality inspection process, to determine strategies for increasing productivity and improving data management and analysis. BuildIT was called in to perform a complete process audit and work with Nova Bus to implement strategies for cost-effective productivity enhancements.

Evaluating the inspection process

Current frame inspection required two inspectors and took up to five hours per bus. A portable coordinate measurement device combined with manual techniques measured the bus in multiple sections. The time-consuming process required significant paper-based recording and analysis, as well as careful verification to ensure the accuracy of information. “Our goal was to make inspection a three-hour procedure to be performed by one inspector. We also wanted to produce digital records of all inspection information,” states Alain Conraud, section head, technical services at Nova Bus. Additionally, Nova Bus wanted to reformat the inspection reports to make it easier for shop staff to interpret, and make the information accessible to support the final assembly process.

Working closely with Nova Bus, BuildIT created a plan that included portable CMM hardware and new measurement software for a paperless inspection process. In the first step toward implementing the plan, BuildIT worked with Nova Bus to identify and acquire the most effective CMM technology to support the new process. A new laser tracker would complement their existing portable arm, and enable them to transition to an entirely digital measurement process.

Next, they needed measurement software to support the measurement devices and produce the much-anticipated digital reports.

The software requirements had been clearly identified: it must be easy to learn, interface with multiple measurement devices, feature customizable reports, and be programmable for inspection automation.

“Ongoing feature development and personalized customer service was very important to us,” says Conraud. “We needed to be sure that we could get continued support after our initial investment. We chose BuildIT because the technology stood out among its peers and because we were confident they would deliver.”

BuildIT is 3-D software for integrated coordinate measurement, tool-building, and quality process automation. It is easy to use for the casual user, yet provides the depth and traceability required by metrology experts. Nova Bus modeled their workflow on BuildIT and quickly benefited from their investment.

Reducing inspection time by 80 percent

Within a few months of implementation, Nova Bus realized an 80 percent time savings. Engineers at BuildIT created automation routines to guide the inspector through one-button measurement. Inspectors follow a sequential multistation process that ensures consistent and repeatable measurement. What previously took 10 man-hours to complete could now be accomplished in two—a full hour less than Nova Bus’ original goal.

BuildIT’s unified software interface simplifies the process of working with multiple devices. The same one-button measurement process collects data from both the arm and the laser tracker and all measurement data is easily merged into the design coordinate system. BuildIT facilitated measurement and understanding of intricate geometries like door frames that were previously measured by hand. For the first time, Nova Bus is able to analyze dimensional data across the entire vehicle without having to manually manipulate the data.

Exceeding expectations

Nova Bus benefits from powerful reporting capabilities of BuildIT. Hundreds of key features are inspected against tolerance and exceptions are highlighted in color-coded 3-D CAD reports.

In addition to the immediate benefits of reducing inspection time, BuildIT helped Nova Bus identify opportunities for further process optimization. Consistent vehicle-wide coordinate data makes it possible to identify specific features as being more or less critical, and the inspection frequency is adjusted accordingly. Likewise, overall process simplicity and ease-of-use makes it possible for Nova Bus to quickly train operators with little or no previous metrology experience and maintain the same level of quality control.

“We selected BuildIT to improve our production process, and they exceeded our expectations,” says Conraud. “BuildIT worked alongside us in a very collaborative way to fully understand our process. Through them, we redefined our measurement process and dimensional quality control; they helped us identify manufacturing issues and solve them quickly, and they helped reduce inspection time by 80 percent.”

Customer Profile

With more than 20 years of experience, Nova Bus, a division of Volvo Bus Corporation, is among the largest manufacturers of city, suburban, and shuttle buses in North America. Recognized as a leader in the production of stainless steel frames, their buses are known to be highly reliable and are deployed across North America.



Maintaining a strong competitive edge compelled Nova Bus to restructure manufacturing processes in order to reduce inspection time and increase production volume, while simultaneously improving manufacturing quality.



Nova Bus would implement BuildIT in combination with multiple measurement devices, and benefit from an easy-to-learn common user interface, customized reporting, ongoing feature development, and process optimization.



Following implementation, BuildIT exceeded Nova Bus’ expectations: operators with little previous experience could easily follow a consistent inspection process, coordinate data is synchronized vehicle-wide, 3-D reports are easily shared between manufacturing and engineering, and inspection time was reduced by 80 percent.


Nova Bus frame assembly inspection using laser trackers and portable arms.

A complete digital inspection process and customized reports make inspection results immediately understandable.


About The Author

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BuildIT Software

BuildIT Software is a pioneer in 3-D metrology software for portable coordinate measurement machines (CMMs), with turnkey, full-featured solutions to help maximize production efficiency, providing links between engineering and manufacturing. Visit online at www.builditsoftware.com.