Real-time data analysis is playing an increasingly critical role in improving overall productivity and manufacturing competitiveness. Here’s how the metalworking sector, through advances in metrology solutions, can create a smarter manufacturing environment that is simple to manage and deploy. Article by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.
In today’s business climate, it is of paramount importance to reach consistently high levels of productivity, quality and cost-effectiveness.
For this reason, metalworking companies are harnessing new data-driven technologies to enhance and automate their design, production and inspection processes. And the change is taking place beyond sectors that are traditionally highly sensitive to quality, such as aerospace and automotive.
As today’s coordinate measuring machines (CMM) and their associated sensors and software become much faster and more sophisticated at collecting and exchanging accurate inspection data, real-time data analysis is playing an increasingly critical role in improving overall productivity and manufacturing competitiveness.
Many manufacturers have already equipped their CMMs with multisensor technology that allows them to perform contact and optical non-contact inspection interchangeably, while quickly and efficiently capturing data that can be checked for accuracy against original CAD data.
Measurement data collection and analysis is supported by the Q-DAS statistical analysis software, which can be used to visualise measurement data in real-time and monitor them statistically. Q-DAS’s statistical process control (SPC) function systematically informs the CMM operator of any violations of SPC alarm criteria, enabling operators to take corrective action in the manufacturing process before generating expensive scrap. At the same time the software’s high flexibility allows users to adapt the recording and visualisation of data to specific tasks.
Using Real-time Analysis to Improve Performance
But now, manufacturers are going a step further to increase their productivity by addressing the challenges of improving machine utilisation, throughput and uptime. This is leading them to adopt asset management solutions, such as the HxGN SFx Asset Management software, to monitor the status of one or several CMMs in real-time. The growing use of asset management software is partly due to greater automation, which requires operators and managers to keep a close check on the performance of unattended machines. By using asset management to efficiently monitor the status of CMMs remotely, manufacturers can maximise machine usage.
Asset management can help the metalworking sector raise productivity across multiple applications, such as the measurement of rotor or stator lamination stacks. Rotor or stator lamination stacks are composed of individual electrical steel laminations and are typically inspected in pallets using image-processing (vision) sensors. Hexagon’s OPTIV multisensor and optical CMMs come equipped with a vision sensor as a standard and are commonly used to simplify the measurement of large or palletised flat parts such as rotor or stator laminations close to the shop floor. Equipped with handle workpiece palletising, the Hexagon OPTIV enables a fast and automated inspection process, even for large batches of small serial parts such as clutch discs and fine-blanked parts.
Because speed and accuracy are of the essence when inspecting rotor or stator lamination stacks, operators often need to manage multiple CMMs that are running pallet measurement routines unattended.
The OPTIV’s extended measurement range enables prepared interchangeable pallets to be supplied semi-automatically by a palletising robot, reducing standstill times and increasing inspection throughput.
Hexagon’s Inspect software, meanwhile, makes it simple for operators to set up one pallet and then prepare and launch the next on a separate CMM. Asset management software offers a simple dashboard view of machine availability, which allows operators to save additional time by identifying which CMM has spare capacity.
The right asset management tool also helps manufacturers optimise maintenance schedules and plan for a more efficient use of manufacturing resources. As a result, quality departments can shift from managing assets as a cost centre to creating value by optimising equipment profitability.
If, for example, a manufacturer needs to increase production to fulfil new orders for a customer, information from asset management systems makes it easy to identify where spare inspection capacity lies either locally or at another site.
Raising Your Equipment’s Overall Effectiveness
Successful asset management, however, depends on having instant access to actionable insights. Notifications about the performance and status of metrology assets, for example, need to be available in real-time. And all alerts should be readily customisable so that operators and managers receive the information that is pertinent to their role and in a format that is easy to access, understand and use.
For this reason, Hexagon has ensured its HxGN SFx Asset Management platform provides a simple, accurate way to monitor and analyse how key assets are performing via a centralised, user-friendly dashboard. It works equally well whether the machines being monitored are on a single site or in multiple factories around the world. And in addition to a having a dashboard view of each CMM’s uptime and downtime, it’s possible for operators to see how each machine is being used, all while working remotely on a mobile phone or a PC.
Having real-time insight into CMM performance not only enables operators and managers to schedule work efficiently and respond immediately to operator errors. They can also use data analysis to understand and manage the productivity of their assets over the long term and to calculate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) either for a single CMM or for several CMMs, across multiple sites and over various periods of time. OEE is calculated using data for quality, which is based on a CMM’s success in completing measurement processes during the scheduled time, performance and availability. Gaining a thorough understanding of a CMM’s OEE makes it easier for manufacturers to reduce spending on maintenance while achieving better overall performance and efficiency.
Getting the Right Data with Versatile, Multisensor Systems
Any analysis is only as good as the data it relies on, which is why Hexagon is investing in ensuring all its systems deliver accurate, real-time, relevant data to where it is most needed. The HxGN SFx Asset Management solution is an important part of this strategy, but it is not the only element.
When it comes to inspection, the choice of CMM, sensors and supporting software for a given application clearly plays a pivotal role in determining the quality and quantity of data that manufacturers gather, and at what speed.
Multisensor CMMs have grown popular because of their versatility when capturing data at the varying levels of detail and speed required by different applications and materials.
Having the Vision to Improve Processes
Vision sensors remain a key inspection tool in the metalworking sector because they are adept at quickly and automatically measuring large volumes of intricate metal parts. Designed to capture surface detail swiftly, vision systems are particularly useful when dealing with high production rates.
A vision sensor with a high-resolution digital CMOS colour camera and a programmable motorised zoom lens, for example, can offer variable illumination in the form of a coaxial LED top light, LED back light and multi-segment LED ring light to provide high contrast illumination of complex surfaces and edges, all while quickly capturing data that informs the entire manufacturing process. Hexagon further enhanced vision sensor speed and performances when it launched a Large Field Of View vision sensor for its OPTIV CMMs. The new vision sensor provided a field of view that is approximately four times larger than the standard vision sensor on today’s OPTIV CMMs.
When it comes to using multisensor systems to measure metal workpieces, Hexagon’s OPTIV Dual Z helps increases batch measurement throughput by enabling optical and tactile sensors operating in restricted measuring volumes to automatically reach more measuring positions within a single measurement cycle.
Whether a manufacturer’s applications best suit a vision sensor, a laser sensor or a touch probe, Hexagon is focused on providing data-based solutions that easily integrate with existing and future systems to create a smarter manufacturing environment that is simple to manage and deploy.
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