Shanawaz Ali Mohammad and Ken Bishop stand with the laser-based custom measuring machineShanawaz Ali Mohammad and Ken Bishop stand with the laser-based custom measuring machine they are exhibiting at the annual conference of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

Gauge company hires grad student who designed laser-guided measuring machine

Ken Bishop and his crew at Landau Gage had a great idea for an innovative new quality control product for the auto industry, but knew they needed help making it a reality.

Thanks to a graduate student in engineering and a federal government program that pairs up bright young researchers with potential employers, Bishop’s company has a new prototype they can show off, and a new employee to boot.

Shanawaz Ali Mohammad, a former master’s student in electrical and computer engineering, helped design a custom measuring machine that relies on lasers to ensure that a clutch hub, an important component in automotive transmissions, meets precise specifications as it comes off the assembly line.

It’s a system that’s already been tested by a major tier one automotive supplier, and one that shaves huge amounts of time off the method it has been using to ensure quality standards are met.

“It currently takes about 20 minutes to measure and test one part,” said Bishop, Landau’s vice-president of operations. “We’ve reduced that to less than two minutes with this system.”

Bishop said Shanawaz Ali came to his company after he contacted the university looking for help on how to implement a conceptual laser-based measurement system.

“We came up with the concept to use lasers for something like this, but were trying to determine what application we could use it for,” he said. “The software and the electrical expertise was something we didn’t have.”

Shanawaz Ali was hired by the company with help from the Industrial Research Assistance Program, which is funded by the National Research Council. He started working on the system in January of 2013, and said it took about a year to do all the synchronization and programming. Supervised by professor Rashid Rashidzadeh, he also worked with PhD student Esrafil Jedari, who developed the algorithms for the machine.

Eventually he created a working prototype, which has a patent pending and was on display at the annual conference of the Automotive Parts and Manufacturers’ Association conference, yesterday and today at Caesars Windsor.

Bishop said they were so happy with Shanawaz Ali’s work that they hired him on as a full-time employee, which naturally thrilled the student.

“I was really happy,” Shanawaz Ali said. “I get to play with some really expensive equipment and I really like that. It’s a great place to work.”

Bishop added that his company, which currently consists of about 15 employees, is equally thrilled to have him on board because he provides his firm with new expertise that will allow them to develop similar technology for a variety of other automotive products.

“Non-contact measuring systems are growing by leaps and bounds,” he said. “We’re already looking at some other areas where we can be measuring other parts using the same concept.”

Watch a video demonstration of the technology.