It is difficult to measure and properly diagnose a problem if you don’t have all the facts. This is especially true for manufacturing operations responsible for delivering products with tight tolerances. So, what if your facility is having a problem achieving this? Is there an issue with metrology equipment? Is this an operator error? Is the proper information even being collected from your business to address the problem?
Frequently, the last question is the problem and solution.
“The dilemma people have between a ‘we can’t’ and a ‘why not’ operational culture is the fear that changing is going to cause more problems,” explains Gene Daniell, ROMER Absolute Arms Product Manager of North America, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. “The way that you get away from this conceptually is having really good data and understanding it so you can defend your decisions to suppliers and customers. It’s really all about data and getting data.”
Adapting advanced metrology equipment
Daniell explains that manufacturers that are apprehensive to try new, more advanced metrology methodologies tend to fall behind their competitors.
“When you’re using advanced metrology, you’re pulling out operator error and other potentially costly errors,” Daniell says. “A ‘why not’ engineering facility is where there’s confidence in the actions to move ahead with changes that are supported by data.”
An example is Hexagon’s PC-DMIS Portable sophisticated inspection, data collection, and analysis software. PC-DMIS Portable allows taking measurements and analyzing the results where parts are made and assembled. A quick-start graphic user interface (GUI) makes it easy for people who are not coordinate measurement machine (CMM) experts to get the most out of their equipment. Initially used for the automotive and aerospace industries, the system is designed for measuring complex, contoured parts.
“We bring the full package. We aren’t a one trick pony,” Daniell says. “We don’t come in with one thing and say, ‘Well you have to use this because it’s the only thing I have.’ We’re going to make sure you get the best tool for your use.”
The system supports a wide range of scanning techniques and devices using predefined and free form scans ranging from simple hard probes to sophisticated laser scanners. PC-DMIS Portable also lets users measure in any order, eliminating unnecessary movement. The software keeps track of what has been measured and what hasn't and only evaluates features and dimensions when all information is available.
Working with PC-DMIS Portable, Hexagon’s ROMER Absolute Arm portable CMM can further improve manufacturing operations.
Available in five sizes from 2.5m to 4.5m, the 77 Series ROMER Absolute Arm (Hexagon’s latest) can be used immediately without warm-up or referencing, and probe changes can be made without recalibration. Acoustic and haptic operator feedback support use in harsh shop-floor environments, while the standard 3000N magnetic base offers mounting options for several applications.
“For most of us who don’t show our product on TV every week like NASCAR teams, what we fail to realize is that other people compete with us, so our life is a race too,” Daniell explains. “If we’re not looking every single week to get a little bit better we’re falling behind every single week, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. I encourage anyone that is working with a part that can be measured or scanned to look long and hard on their engineering improvement process. Because you may well find that you can make improvements with a relatively nominal investment.”