Consolidation along the Digital Thread seems to be all the rage among companies today, including Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. While acquiring technologies outside its core metrology might make sense as a business, is there advantage technically in adding CAE and CAD/CAM?
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As machine vision technologies improve, providing more data more frequently, new uses for inspection during the manufacturing process are emerging. The automotive industry might represent the ultimate challenge to providers of machine vision equipment used in robotic guidance and material inspection.
The industrial world is continuing its adoption of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T), the advanced tolerancing methodology. The symbolic language is intended to be both more precise while providing more latitude in allowable variations, replacing the simpler method of adding tolerances to each dimension.
For CMMs, the good times continue to roll. “One of the surprising things that has happened in just the last three to four years is the sheer volume of CMMs that we are shipping,” said Angus Taylor, president of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North America (North Kingstown, RI). “The market seems to be really exploding.”
Modern manufacturing is rapidly adopting model-based definition (MBD). When employing an MBD strategy, the CAD model becomes more than the nominal to which all parts are measured and inspected against. MBD keeps the all-important digital thread intact—from design to manufacturing to inspection and quality reporting.
While high-end metrology devices like advanced laser scanners or precision CMMs garner a lot of attention, it is hard to imagine any industrial setting without the presence of work-a-day hand-held, contact metrology tools such as calipers or micrometers. That is what Justin Frazzini, quality manager for A.A. Jansson (Waterford, MI), retailer and calibration and repair service provider, observes in his practice.
Why use a metrology device on or near a machine tool? It isn’t just useful for making sure a tool is present or monitoring tools for wear or breakage. On-machine measurement technologies can save time and money, by speeding up processes and eliminating extra personnel, and they are a critical step in the movement towards “lights-out” manufacturing.
Mitutoyo America Corp. (MAC; Aurora, IL) celebrated the grand opening of its new Detroit-area M3 Solution Center in Novi, MI, on June 28. The 8455 ft2 (785.5 m2) facility replaces one that the company had occupied for 38 years in nearby Plymouth, MI.
Renishaw Inc. is preparing to move into a new 133,000-sq.-ft. office and warehouse facility in West Dundee, IL, about 40 miles from Chicago. The two-story facility will be the company’s new North American headquarters, but also includes space for product development, testing, warehousing and distribution. It includes the new U.S. Additive Manufacturing Solutions Center – part of Renishaw’s network of global Solutions Centers, opening over the next year.
The challenges to manufacturing as it evolves into the 21st century are now familiar, and impact how metrology must contribute. Manufacturers face uncertain production volumes with roller-coaster demand, shorter production runs and faster product development cycles. Automation, while alluring as a way to reduce cost, needs to adjust.