Industry in North America and the developed world is changing and industrial metrology is changing with it. As companies move toward more efficient, more automated shops, they need quality assurance technology that can keep pace, cut down waste, and reduce inspection times. The trends driving industrial metrology in 2017 all aim to achieve these ends, and they include shop-floor machines, non-contact measurements, and more advanced software.
Higher demand for shop-floor inspection has been driving changes to the mechanical structure of coordinate measuring machine, resulting in a line of machines that no longer use air bearings (which require a clean, controlled air supply) and can be used right on the floor. These shop-floor machines may be coordinate measuring machines that use hard bearings or portable arms and they are ideal for cell manufacturing, where you can inspect components right off the line. Available new and used from metrology dealers like CMM (Canadian Measurement Metrology), they represent one of the biggest mechanical changes to coordinate measuring machines in decades.
Laser scanners and IoT technology are going to be catalysts for the next big shift: inline inspection, where metrology equipment identifies machine tool errors in real time and factories reach 100 percent inspection. Offering real-time collision analysis, Polyworks 2017 is the software program making major strides for inline inspection right now. To find out more about new technology like Polyworks 2017, visit the CMM Blog and see what’s new about metrology today.
Non-contact probing systems have long been in demand by companies that required high-end, precision inspections of components made of a material that could not be touched. Laser scanners and vision systems, often used as part of a multi-sensor coordinate measuring machine (where you can switch quickly between touch and non-contact probes) have made non-contact measurements easier than ever, as well as increased the speed at which data can be collected.
One of the consequences of shop-floor or real-time inspection and non-contact inspection like laser scanners is that they have dramatically increased the amount of data that shops deal with on a daily basis. In an interview on Advanced Manufacturing several years ago, the president of industry leader Hexagon Metrology said that many shops would be facing data overload.
Today, it’s clear that new software has arisen to effectively manage all the new data shops have at their disposal. Software programs like DataPage+ SPC have gone from being luxuries to necessities in shops with rigorous inspection processes. DataPage+ SPC helps manage data collected from a variety of machines across the shop, making comparisons and reports easier than ever. PC-DMIS Reshaper is another must-have for shops that use laser trackers, as it allows you to gather data in 3D, going straight from inspection to CAD – a must if you use reverse engineering.
Purchasing new software also means that you need to update your staff’s training so that they can competently and quickly program machines. E-learning courses and in-person training at their Mississauga facilities are available from CMM in a long list of software programs.
As a business, any time you consider a new investment, you have to evaluate your options based on whether or not it makes sense for you. If it will pay for itself, either in efficiencies or by drawing new clients, if it means you make higher quality components than your competitors and if it means you reduce error and scrap, then new metrology equipment is a sound investment. From shop-floor coordinate measuring machines to portable arms, laser trackers, and better software, advanced metrology machines are the way forward for manufacturers in 2017.