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Hexagon Moves Beyond Metrology

By Brian Shepherd Senior Vice President Software Solutions, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence
By Stephen Graham Vice President Marketing, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

Manufacturing Engineering: Describe Hexagon’s latest moves in factory automation, including unifying its metrology software with its CAD/CAM and other manufacturing software.

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Hexagon is focused on giving customers a holistic view of manufacturing data in real time.

Steve Graham: We have a very broad portfolio in the manufacturing space, with solutions spanning design and engineering, production, through to metrology. As we continue to expand our offerings across these areas, we’re developing greater synergies between systems and software across these traditionally siloed workflows.

Quality data can deliver valuable insights into production processes, and vice versa. That’s why we’re really focused on giving customers a holistic view of their manufacturing data in real time, so smart decision-making can drive productivity.

For example, we’ve been demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach in closed-loop manufacturing cells, where a part is machined before being automatically moved to a coordinate measuring machine for inspection. We use statistical process control software to identify trends in the measured data from the machined parts. We can automatically make program corrections in the CNC to keep production on spec, for example if the tool is wearing. Processes are improved automatically while the machines are in operation, with no requirement for manual intervention. Ultimately, data sharing to drive feedback loops is essential to increase factory automation and productivity.

ME: What’s new in factory automation, and how is Hexagon addressing it?

Brian Shepherd: Hexagon’s core vision is to move processes beyond automation to autonomy. Obviously the world’s technological capabilities have come a long way in just the last couple of decades; the levels of efficiency and connectivity we can achieve through automated solutions are unprecedented. But increasingly when people talk about factory automation, the conversation isn’t just about reducing manual intervention—it’s about lights-out manufacturing. Advancements in automation and smart factory solutions have given manufacturers the confidence to think seriously about autonomous enterprises, where systems draw upon multiple sources of data unaided and make autonomous smart decisions. Hexagon is driving the journey toward autonomous intelligence by enabling manufacturers to converge functions with core technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, and mobile applications. These are essential to establish a digital ecosystem that enables the convergence of virtual and real world data for the truly autonomous factory.

ME: How is Hexagon working toward building next-generation digital manufacturing with the new SFx Smart Factory, and what will that offer manufacturers?

Brian Shepherd: Our research suggests that three out of four manufacturers either have an operational smart factory initiative or are formulating one. But 78 percent of these initiatives are in the beginning stage, so we’ve developed a four-level framework for digital transformation that supports manufacturers at whatever point of the smart factory journey they are on.

The first level is “digital applications.” We see these as crucial sources of data for any smart factory initiative and leverages the historical strengths of Hexagon: our design and engineering simulation software, production software capabilities, and metrology portfolio. Underpinning that is a second layer of technology components. This level consists of technologies that many manufacturers are looking to deploy to digitize their enterprise, such as edge computing, augmented reality, and AI.

These technologies can be integrated at the third level in the smart factory platform. This forms a cloud-based technology stack, upon which we build a fourth level of smart factory solutions for a wide range of manufacturing processes such as additive, composites, and assembly. The idea here is to leverage the digital thread for a smooth flow of data, delivering end-to-end business processes that unlock traditionally siloed data for enhanced operational excellence.

As I’ve suggested, manufacturers can enter this model at any level. If they aren’t mature at the first level and first need to build up simulation capabilities or need better production software, we can help with that. As manufacturers progress along the framework hierarchy, they can expect to have increasing impact on the end-to-end processes.

ME: The latest Hexagon PC-DMIS 2019 R2 was just rolled out. What’s new in this release for improving metrology performance?

Graham: This latest release marks one of the most significant transformations in PC-DMIS usability in the software’s history. We’ve introduced “Home Page,” which enhances PC-DMIS with a desktop-like user experience for greater efficiency. Now users can access favorite and recently used measurement routines directly from the start screen, shortening measurement set-up times. This Home Page also gives users access to resources, such as tech support, the users’ forum, and a dashboard of instructional videos.

The update also caters to customer demand for greater routine security and traceability. The new Protect feature is a valuable tool for auditing and change management. It enables users to effectively lock a routine so it can only be edited by users with admin rights. Any changes made are logged and can be traced to the individual who made them.

We also enhanced a feature GD&T Selection from Capture, which uses optical character recognition to help quality engineers migrate GD&T data into the measurement routine quickly. The user simply scans in a picture of the GD&T data and the software interprets the text and transfers the data into the measurement routine.

Analysis of thickness has also been made more intuitive and faster with the introduction of Thickness Colormap. This feature offers intuitive graphics to display the measured thickness of components in a graded color scale, using mesh or point cloud. It can also show deviations from the CAD model, enabling the user to identify where immediate attention is required. The user can also enhance reports by including an image of the colormap.

ME: At this year’s EMO, Hexagon showcased its Production Software portfolio. How will the company merge and meld capabilities of its Product Software, including the former Vero Software CAD/CAM brands, within the rest of the product lineup?

Graham: Our standout demonstration at EMO was a good illustration of how our production software is being integrated with other Hexagon products in design and engineering and metrology to deliver efficient, smarter manufacturing processes. We used virtual reality glasses to demo the complete construction and production of a motorcycle saddle. First, the saddle was reverse engineered with 3D scanning using an Absolute Arm portable measurement system and PC-DMIS metrology software. Based on the 3D model, the machining was optimally programmed with EDGECAM; collision-free machining is ensured using the NC code simulation on a virtual machine with NCSIMUL. The final program was then transferred directly to the machine and started with no loss of time when retracting.

Ultimately this is just one example of how our design and engineering, production, and metrology capabilities are combined to manage an end-to-end manufacturing process. Of course, the convergence here helps users develop complex and precise components in the shortest possible time. But it’s also driven by a focus on long-term value-add. Our production software portfolio covers a wide range of CAD/CAM, CNC simulation, and tooling management capabilities. As we continue to strengthen this offering, the integration of production software with our other products advances more and more smart factory possibilities for manufacturers, enabling future-proof processes and continuous improvement.

Medical Device Company Selects Siemens

Penumbra Inc., an Alameda, Calif.-based provider of interventional therapies and medical devices, has selected Siemens’ Opcenter Execution Medical Device and Diagnostics, formerly known as Camstar Medical Device Suite, from Plano, Texas-based Siemens Digital Industries Software, to support its growing business and innovation goals. The solution, which enables paperless manufacturing in an FDA-regulated environment, will be the foundation for an operational excellence platform designed to establish a more predictable manufacturing process and supply chain, while also providing the foundation for continued, rapid growth.

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Penumbra selected the Opcenter manufacturing software suite to manage its medical portfolio.

Siemens Digital Industries Software recently released Opcenter, a portfolio of software solutions for manufacturing operations management (MOM). The Opcenter portfolio expands on Siemens’ earlier MOM solutions, uniting them in a single, connected cloud-ready suite of applications.

“I was mainly interested in four areas: in-line data verification, elimination of paper storage, reduction of resources doing DHR review, and the ability to collect and respond to real time data,” said Ryan Powers, Penumbra vice president, operations. “The implementation resulted in process improvements and efficiencies that were not anticipated, and the user interface has had a significant impact on quality of life for the product builders.”

Penumbra needed a scalable solution to replace paper DHRs, while also managing regulatory requirements. Utilizing Siemens Opcenter can help the company achieve lower costs of compliance, better control of the manufacturing process and overall efficiency gains associated with paperless manufacturing. Powers said with Siemens’ MES, the company will have even better enforcement and visibility into its existing processes, which will in turn help to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and improve the reliability and quality of manufacturing.

Mastercam 2020 Mill Released

CNC Software Inc., the Tolland, Conn.-based developer of Mastercam software, announced its new Mastercam 2020 Mill, which offers expanded machining flexibility and an increased emphasis on speed and automation. The release features 2D high speed toolpaths, 3D enhancements, and multiaxis features that combine with dozens of additional new enhancements aimed at improving shop-floor productivity.

Mastercam 2020 Mill software features new features with speed and automation improvements aimed at improving shop-floor productivity.

The new software includes Mastercam’s Dynamic Motion toolpaths, which have been updated to streamline performance and increase programming speed. Accelerated Finishing receives new support for oval form and lens barrel form tools, delivering faster, smoother finishes on select surfaces. Toolpath Hole Definition has been improved, and the Features list now displays more information about the selected points, in addition to the type of selection made and the diameter of the selected point.

Mastercam’s Equal Scallop toolpath delivers finish across sloped, curved, and flat surfaces. Now tool tip containment and “Closed” or “Trimmed” toolpath offsets deliver optimal finishes for different types of complex shapes. A new toolpath, Blend, has been added to the 3D High Speed suite of toolpaths. Blend is based on the Surface Finish Blend toolpath but is faster and has a superior quality and includes the use of stock and holder checking.
The release includes many multiaxis improvements. Deburr can use ball end mills or lollipop undercut tools to break edges for three- to five-axis, and to remove burrs. You now have the benefit of fast, automated part deburring using climb or conventional cutting, with more controls for selecting which area of your part to deburr. Holemaking is now easier with Toolpath Hole Definition supporting the selection of solid features and lines, in addition to arcs, points, and AutoCursor positions.

CAMWorks ShopFloor Streamlines Design-to-Manufacturing Process

HCL Technologies Ltd., a global technology company based in Noida, India, announced the release of CAMWorks ShopFloor software, by USA Geometric Americas Inc., an HCL Technologies company in Scottsdale, Ariz. CAMWorks ShopFloor provides tools for companies to meet Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 initiatives by moving beyond 2D drawings or static digital files.

With CAMWorks ShopFloor, 3D digital models capture data from part design files and provide tools that machinists can use to produce parts with better communication between the design and manufacturing departments. Because CAMWorks ShopFloor is run independently, the need to have a full CAD/CAM software license on the shop floor is eliminated. CAMWorks and SolidWorks CAM license customers will have the ability to publish data to CAMWorks ShopFloor. 

CAMWorks ShopFloor reduces errors by eliminating the need to repeatedly transfer part data to 2D drawings or other formats. Upon completion of a CAD part file, the designer publishes a CAMWorks ShopFloor file, which is transferred to the machinist. CAMWorks ShopFloor includes a complete CAD viewer, allowing the machinist to display the native design model with GD&T dimensional information and annotations of the 3D part model. Machinists can rotate, zoom, pan and section view the model. They can also take linear, radial, angular, and area measurements. The MBD and PMI data can be viewed, searched and filtered.

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New CAMWorks ShopFloor software shows a PVC fitting mold machining process.

Delays caused by questions and material waste caused by machining an outdated version of a part are avoided because CAMWorks ShopFloor provides a single source of part data. All the information for a part is contained in a single file and is viewed under a single interface. CAMWorks ShopFloor includes automatic file checking to detect changes in either the CAD or CAM file and alert the user, to avoid machining the wrong revision of the part and maintain associativity along the digital thread.

In addition to full toolpath simulation, CAMWorks ShopFloor also includes a step-through simulation option for each operation or the entire program. This gives the machinist the option to review each operation at the machine, without the need to walk the machine through each cutting step or dry-running the program.

TDM Updates Tool Data Management Software

Tübingen, Germany-based developer TDM Systems GmbH announced an update of its tool data management system with the new TDM 2019/TDM Global Line 2019. The latest generation of TDM Global Line now offers practically all the functions of the TDM core solution. Moreover, it stands out on account of its centrally available database, which can be accessed from any business location worldwide.

“The global use of a central database results in massive IT cost savings, productivity increases and synergies that span multiple locations,” said Eugen Bollinger, TDM Systems GmbH vice president, sales, adding that TDM has expanded configuration options in TDM Global Line 2019 and developed new modules.

The update includes the TDM Shopfloor Manager for workflow management, incorporating booking functions and interfaces for crib systems, presetting devices and machines as well as for higher-level systems such as MES, FMS and ERP. Users can now create multiple shop-floor configurations in order to depict workflows in various production areas. A new feature, individual status management, allows an individual to define the tool status within the workflow.

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New TDM Global Line tool management software includes enhancements and new features that help manufacturers with tooling workflow management.

TDM Production Document Management is a new module that enables assigning as many documents as users wish to the production resources via a drag-and-drop function, either in the form of a link to the actual saved location or as a copy on the Global Line server. This ensures that all relevant information is securely documented.

Also included are new Graphics functions that allow users to generate rotation contours from 2D graphics using the Tool Contour Generator and with the aid of an intuitive user navigation system.

Software Update is edited by Contributing Editor Patrick Waurzyniak; contact him at

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