Q&A with Tom Acker

Business Manager
Delta Inspection


Tell us a little about yourself and your team at Delta Inspection.

I’ve been with the company since April 2012, and I’m tasked with business and customer development strategy. Our expert metrologists on the team include Sam Lindhorst, principal metrologist and quality manager, and John Schultz, senior metrologist. Sam has over 40 years of metrology experience, and he is the founding metrologist brought on board when Delta Inspection was a mere vision. He has been instrumental in developing the company’s quality standards and consulting on equipment needs, and he continues to provide his metrology expertise in solving customer problems. John has been with the company since 2013 and has nearly 20 years of metrology experience. His drive to please customers has helped grow the company.

How was Delta Inspection started?

Delta Inspection is part of the Delta family of companies based in Livonia, Michigan, that includes Delta Gear and Delta Research that began in 1952. Around 2010, with the purchase of a second building and the acquisition of sophisticated gear measuring equipment, Delta Inspection began as a contract inspection service, seeing an opening to create a high precision inspection group focused on gear technology. We had the space, resources, and technology, and we backfilled the talent, starting with Sam. Delta Inspection was incorporated in May 2012 and became an ISO/IEC 17025:2005-accredited laboratory through A2LA in April 2013.

Describe Delta Inspection’s capabilities and equipment.

While we have the capability to measure and/or reverse engineer most any industrial part, the company is heavily slanted toward the inspection and validation of gears with Klingelnberg and Wenzel gear measuring machines capable of measuring parts up to 2,200 pounds and 1.5 meters in length and a Mahr Primar to accurately measure roundness, cylindricity, and concentricity. We also have a Wenzel LH1512 CMM equipped with a Renishaw Revo head; Mitutoyo surface finish equipment; SIP linear measuring machines; Mitutoyo roundness analyzer; Faro laser scanning equipment; and double flank testing equipment.

Delta Inspection serves a wide variety of industries — automotive, aerospace, heavy equipment, rail, medical devices, and mining.

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What challenges do you address related to gear inspection?

Most of our customers come to Delta Inspection because they have an issue with their parts. We spend an inordinate amount of time communicating with them to clearly define the problem so that we can determine an inspection methodology to best provide data to solve their problem in the most cost-effective manner. Other than defining the objectives, we inspect a number of complicated objects that are related to gears such as curvic couplings, worm gears and worm wheels, ball screws, and turbine blades.

What is it about your company that sets it apart from others?

As part of the Delta family of companies with facilities that manufacture world-class gears for the automotive and aerospace industry, we have access to exceptional engineers, business leaders, and highly skilled craftsmen who are always willing to help us analyze measurements and determine probable causes of any anomalies found in the gear measurements. With the ability to identify design issues or manufacturing issues, not only can we measure gears with a high degree of accuracy, but we also can assist the customer in identifying the root cause of their issues and recommend potential corrective action. While our competitors can measure with great accuracy as well, the value proposition for Delta Inspection is to help our customers with problem solving.

Describe your relationship with customers.

We are clearly focused on customer needs and understanding that if a customer is experiencing a part failure, there is an urgency to identify and solve the problem. While we are a smaller facility in a 3,000-square-foot lab, our team is made up of some of the finest and most experienced metrologists in the market. Being a smaller company with high autonomy, highly capable team members, and highly technical and accurate equipment gives us the ability to move swiftly to provide expeditious service to our customers.

Please give us an example of how you’ve worked with a customer to solve a problem.

We recently inspected some gears for a customer with a very complicated K chart — in that each flank of the tooth had different geometry. In the course of the inspection, we found that the outside manufacturer of the gear had cut the teeth opposite of the K chart specifications. But more importantly, we were equally as confused during the inspection process due to ambiguous and conflicting print specifications. In other words, we were having the same problems as the manufacturer. During discussions with the customer, we were able to identify and describe the ambiguous print specifications, which resulted in the customer amending and clarifying the print specifications. Of course, the customer was highly appreciative.

What’s in the future for Delta Inspection?

We believe that our customer focus on problem solving and our dedication to accuracy and quality are attributes sought by the gear industry and by the industrial market. New purchases and investments in technology will be driven by industry demands and customer needs.

How do you see the gear industry and the area of metrology moving forward?

The gear industry is heavily engaged in continuous improvement. With the need to produce vehicles with minimal environmental impact, the acceleration of electric vehicles brings a number of noise issues. The vehicle noise that comes from transmissions, although the transmissions are much quieter, is more noticeable without engine noise. So, not only do gears need to transfer power effectively with extended life expectancy, they need to do so quietly. We need to understand not only the geometry of gears, but also the interference and harmonics of mating gears, in order to stay ahead of the curve.

As technology and end-user demand pushes the gear industry to new heights of creativity and complexity, gear metrology will no longer be viewed as simply a cost of doing business, but as an integral part of the gear manufacturing process. The industry is now looking to metrology as part of the solution for both design and manufacturing excellence.

MORE INFORMATION  www.deltainspect.com