When it comes to metrology, here’s how customers can boost confidence, accelerate delivery timelines, and reduce scrap and rework rates all at once. Article by Jim Cassady and Jutta Mayer, FARO Technologies.
In the world of manufacturing, dimensional control is fundamental to successful part assembly. It determines part-to-part variation, establishes part-to-CAD comparison to check whether specs are met, and ensures proper final fit. Beyond getting part geometries right, however, there are additional reasons for maintaining standards in accordance with design specifications.
Investing in precision equipment for measuring and aligning components helps ensure that everything fits the first time around without any unnecessary rework, saving time, and other resources for a company. Further, more serious consequences such as equipment failure or production delays can be avoided when alignment, measurements, and inspections are conducted properly and at appropriate phases of production.
A ‘Greater’ Need for Precision
For industries such as aerospace, automotive, shipbuilding, heavy equipment manufacturing, and many others that handle large components and assemblies, measurement and alignment tasks are a considerable challenge in the overall production process. On the surface, these challenges may not seem too different from what most manufacturers typically encounter. Yet, the difficulties, as well as the consequences of missed specifications, are magnified owing to the size of the objects being built.
Manufacturers that handle large workpieces would candidly share that as product size increases and part geometry grows more complex, it becomes harder for them to perform measurements and inspections accurately. Conventional hand tools such as rules, gauges, calipers, micrometers, squares, and protractors are effective up to a point, but they are also demanding in terms of time and operator skill, often making them prone to human error.
The use of large, fixed coordinate measurement machines (CMMs) in quality labs is impractical as many workpieces cannot be moved to the lab for measurement and inspection. For example, if a ship is dry-docked for a limited time for retrofitting purposes, transporting parts that would fit on a CMM into a quality lab would not be practical. In addition, fixed CMMs are limited in terms of the size of the parts they can inspect and become costly in large working volumes.
Portable 3D Technology to the Rescue
Portable 3D coordinate measurement devices have long become the choice solution among manufacturers for large-volume measurement, as they combine accuracy with flexibility. Compared to conventional hand tools, portable 3D technology offers manufacturers a much higher level of precision, efficiency, and productivity all at once. Unlike fixed CMMs, these solutions require much less capital investment at the onset and are robust enough to perform even in a non-controlled environment, such as on the production floor, in a dry-dock or hangar.
The resulting ability to deploy measurement devices right where the manufacturing process takes place accelerates execution timelines and allows manufacturers to deliver quality products with greater confidence. What this means for large-part manufacturers is that, instead of settling for hand tools or a bulky fixed CMM set-up, they can opt for alternatives that offer the right mix of performance, cost, and flexibility.
To improve consulting for industrial customers with a need for mobile measurement technology in Spain and Portugal, Automated Precision Europe GmbH (API) has signed a reseller agreement with NM3D IBÉRICA. Both companies specialise in innovative laser-based instruments for measurement, calibration and services. NM3D will sell API’s measurement systems in Spain and Portugal in addition to API’s existing reselling partner, HIWE SQS. This includes API’s state-of-the-art Radian Laser Tracker series and full accessory line.
“Through our teams and our combined know-how, customers on the Iberian Peninsula receive the marketleading best consultancy and support for 3D metrology solutions,” says Nuno Costa, General Manager of NM3D. And Jan-Hendrik Lott, Managing Director of API in Europe adds: “Our strengths and products complement each other perfectly. Aligning API’s global network through local presence and partnership in Spain and Portugal provides ‘globally-local’ support and coverage for our customers.”
API offers innovative mobile 3D metrology, on-site measurement services, Laser Tracker calibration and an attractive rental program for immediate availability. Thanks to a Virtual Showroom, online demos of the products are also available at short notice for customers in Spain and Portugal and worldwide.
Automated Precision Europe GmbH (API) has further improved their distribution channels by entering a new partnership in Italy for its Radian Laser Tracker system products and accessories. In addition to their long-time partner Microservice S.r.l., API Radian products will now also be sold by COORD3 in Italy with immediate effect. COORD3, with its expertise in 3D coordinate measuring technology, provides ideal conditions for successful consulting and support of interested parties and customers.
Fulvio Valenziano, Regional Manager at COORD3, summarises the basis of the cooperation: “Best in class technology from the inventor of laser tracking, now through COORD3, is brought even closer to the Italian customer base.”
“Combining the measurement system know-how of COORD3 with API’s innovative product portfolio complements each other perfectly. Aligning the global API network close to every customer through local presence is part of our proven ‘globallylocal’ customer orientation,” added Jan-Hendrik Lott, General Manager of API in Europe.
API offers innovative mobile 3D measurement technology solutions through on-site measurement services, calibration of Laser Trackers, and an attractive rental program for immediate availability. Thanks to a Virtual Showroom, online demos of the products are available at short notice for customers in Italy and around the world.
Introduction of dedicated metrology tools brings quality and efficiency improvements in large-scale subsea structure construction. Article by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.
Situated approximately 15 km south of Singapore in a free-trade-zone on Batam Island, Profab has for 20 years been building a reputation as a leading producer of large-scale parts for the global oil industry. A part of National Oilwell Varco since 2015, the company manufactures everything from subsea structures, turrets and wellhead platforms to mooring systems and pressure vessels.
This level of large-scale construction involves a host of complex industrial processes, including rolling, cutting, assembly, welding, cladding and weld overlay, post-weld heat treatment, painting and coating, loadout support, hydrostatic testing, fitting, packing and sea fastening.
Ensuring client projects are completed properly at the first attempt is a core goal at Profab, requiring the employment of the latest technology and equipment and a highly trained team. Their 27,500 square metre workshop was purpose-designed to provide the most efficient fabrication lines by minimising handling interference within the production process. Profab can handle the production of equipment weighing in at up to 4,000 tons, which can be loaded out directly onto barges via a roll-on-roll-off system using self-propelled modular transporter trailers.
Focus on Accuracy
The manufacture of pressure vessels and mooring systems are key areas where accuracy is becoming more and more critical for Profab. A key example of this was in the creation of the Sergipe floating storage regasification unit (FSRU), where precisely measuring the angles, position and length of the umbilical support structure was of great importance, with measurement essential in the reporting and positioning of adaptor plates.
The accuracy requirements for such tasks are at the submillimetre level for the machined parts, which was beyond the capabilities of the quality assurance equipment previously employed in Batam. It was clear that something more was needed to satisfy these requirements.
“We did consider a high-definition surveying system, but with accuracy at just about 2 to 3 mm, such a solution was just not workable for us,” said Rajesh Moehamad, Quality Control Manager at Profab. “Some of our customers require better accuracy than this, even for very big parts.”
After consultation with a Hexagon representative, it was clear that the Leica Absolute Tracker AT403 delivered a range of features and capabilities that perfectly aligned with Profab’s production needs in Batam.
Yoshihiro Iida from FARO talks about the growing measurement and inspection needs in Thailand’s automotive manufacturing industry. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
FARO is one of the leading providers of 3D measurement, imaging, and realization technologies. Headquartered in Florida, USA, the company develops and manufactures solutions that enable high-precision 3D capture, measurement and analysis across a variety of industries including manufacturing, construction, engineering and public safety.
For the Asia Pacific region, FARO set up its headquarters in Singapore in 2005. The next year, the company established a sales office and customer support services in Thailand.
“We have been here for more than 10 years now, serving Thailand customers for 3D measurement solutions,” says Yoshihiro Iida, senior regional marketing manager for Japan, South Korea, SEA, and ANZ, for FARO, during an interview at the recent METALEX 2019 exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand. According to Iida, this is mainly due to the inspection needs driven by the huge automotive manufacturing industry in Thailand, in addition to the overall metalworking and mould making industries.
For the automotive industry, parts are now getting more complicated, especially their geometries. “Previously, many people used hand tools, such as callipers. This made the inspection processes very difficult, and it was also highly dependent on the person’s skills,” says Iida. “With parts getting more complicated, there is now an increase in needs for inspections.”
So, these manufacturers tend to use 3D measurement machines, such as the fixed CMM. “But with fixed CMMs, the investment tends to be high, and it is also more difficult to set up,” says Iida. “FARO offers portable measurement solutions, which allows manufacturers to do the measurement onsite. This makes inspections easier and reduces time spent on inspection processes.”
Bright Outlook Despite Automotive Manufacturing Woes
Thailand’s automotive market reached 1,007,552 units in 2019, according to data from Toyota Motor Thailand and Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). The figure is down by three percent compared to the previous year, mainly due to the continuing downbeat economic sentiment brought about by the US-China trade war.
This is the fourth time in the history of the Thai automotive market to hit over one million-unit level, even though the market showed a sharp decline in the latter half of last year, especially from September. For 2020, FTI is having a conservative outlook for car production, with forecast output of 2 million units.
Nevertheless, this trend has not dampened demand for inspection systems. “For automotive manufacturing, inspection doesn’t stop. They continue to develop cars, as such they still have a need,” says Iida. “They are dealing with more complicated parts now, so they are seeing greater demand for inspection.”
A lot of companies are still having inspection challenges, according to Iida. “Let’s say for inspection purposes, a lot of people still use hand tools, especially the small businesses. But this method requires specialised skills which usually only the senior employees or senior engineers possess. For new staff or junior engineers—while they may be able to carry out the inspections, accuracy can sometimes be affected as it depends on the skills of the engineers,” explains Iida.
Investing in fixed CMMs can enable manufacturers to measure and inspect parts. “But aside from the heavy investment for a fixed CMM, and it can also take time and a specific skill set to set up the machine and parts for measurement,” he says.
The parts or objects need to be in the inspection room, before setting them up for measurement in the fixed CMM. However, the problem here is that when the parts being measured are too big for the CMM or have complicated geometries. “It is not easy,” says Iida. “If the part is small, you can easily carry it and bring it to the inspection room for measurement. But imagine the big parts or the heavy moulds — these cannot be carried easily to the inspection room. You would also need to consider safety issue. Sometimes, if the parts are too big, such as heavy machinery or equipment, it can take up to one hour or two hours to complete a task.”
On the other hand, he notes that the company’s portable measurement solutions and devices can be brought on site, and users can measure immediately. “You don’t need to carry your parts or objects to the inspection room. We can measure on site. Imagine how much time and effort you can save,” says Iida.
In addition, with the increasing number of younger engineers joining the industry, it would also require significant investment to train them to have specialised skills. “Contrastingly, the FARO measurement solutions are easy to use. Even junior employees will be able to use them immediately inspection,” says Iida. “We will also them deal with inspection, so that they can focus on other important things.”
FARO Innovations and Trends
Among the recent inspection innovations from the company is the FARO 8-Axis Quantum FaroArm. According to Iida, this solution can help reduce installation time by 40 percent.
“The FaroArm can measure complicated shapes or parts with an integrated 360 deg rotating platform, easing the entire process,” says Iida.
One of the trends in the metalworking industry right now is digitalisation. A lot of companies are adopting digital approaches, according to Iida, but he notes that unless you have data, you cannot go into a data-driven strategy.
“Let’s say, your company has some existing parts, but you don’t see or possess the design data. In that case, the FARO measurement solutions can help users reverse engineer existing parts by scanning and creating a CAD data. Once you have data, you can re-use them. We can help digitise things, and that is the step towards Industry 4.0, towards a smarter manufacturing environment.”
Iida says the automotive manufacturing industry may remain uncertain for now due to the US-China trade war. “But we still see growing demand for inspection for automotive parts, and also 3D modelling, for digitalisation,” he says. “As long as there is a need for reliability and quality measurements, FARO is going to be there.”
Specific simulation import, a couple of additional reader translators, and client viewer measurements, all feature in a number of enhancements in the latest release of WORKXPLORE – the powerful high-speed CAD viewer and analyser from Hexagon’s Production Software portfolio.
The software was originally created to efficiently import and analyse all file types and sizes at high speed. It often takes less than half the time to open a file compared to the original CAD application.
Amongst the new and enhanced two-way workflow functionality in WORKXPLORE 2020.1 is the ability to import and export the IGP file format for the Hexagon I++ Simulator, which is a server-based software for multi-kinematic simulation of process-oriented inspections to automate production metrology.
WORKXPLORE can export either opened or closed solids, and mesh models as meshes. And it can also import meshes.
Additional reader translators include Solid Edge 2D Importer, and the IGES Reader Translator. The ability to read drawings has been added to the Solid Edge interface. Currently, 2D supported versions are ST1 to 2019. And the IGES translator allows users to choose between the in-house integrated import library, and the Datakit Advanced Import, giving a choice for the setting best suited to specific needs.
A Print Option enhancement gives more interactive printing functionality in the single view layout, by manipulating entities over the printing. Product Owner Luca Clerici says: “The printing zone in WORKXPLORE 2020.1 can be defined through an interactive rectangle, with the ability to move the camera in the 3D screen.
“When the command is launched, a mask corresponding to the paper ratio – for example, A4 landscape – appears onscreen. It’s then possible to move the model to precisely define the printing area. Also, another interactive rectangle provides an optional crop facility.”
A toolbar with the print options is now available on the right side of the screen, making it easier to select the target printer and define its properties, select the paper size and add headers and footers.
And he says another important new function enables measurements done in WORKXPLORE can now be export to the Client Viewer.
This release also continues the software’s tradition of constantly updating supported formats. Translators in WORKXPLORE 2020.1 support a number of main formats, including: ACIS, several CATIA products, Creo, DXF/DWG, IGES, EDGECAM, I++ Simulator, INVENTOR, Parasolid, STEP, Solid Edge and SolidWorks.
How does the aerospace industry manage to optimise its manufacturing processes and produce more parts of the highest quality in less time? Simon Côté, product manager at Creaform, explains.
The aerospace industry is known for manufacturing parts with critical dimensions and tight tolerances, all of which must undergo high-demanding inspections. Given the scale of the controls to be carried out on these parts, it is hardly surprising that quality people prefer to turn to coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). After all, this highly accurate measuring instrument has their full confidence.
However, directing all inspections to the CMM may cause other non-negligible problems: CMMs are hyper-loaded, generating bottlenecks during inspections, slowing down the manufacturing processes, and causing production and delivery delays.
Is it possible to unload the CMMs so that they are fully available for the final quality controls? How can we improve manufacturing processes to produce more parts faster and, above all, of better quality? And in the event of a quality issue occurring during production, is it possible to identify the root cause more quickly in order to minimise the delays that could impact schedules and production deliveries?
This article aims to explain how important players in the aerospace industry have managed to unload their CMMs and improve their manufacturing processes without ever neglecting the quality of parts with critical dimensions and tight tolerances, such as castings, gears, pump covers, stators, and bearing housings. Solutions developed by the aerospace industry can serve as a guide for other industries because, after all, the entire industrial sector aims to optimise its manufacturing processes and produce more parts of better quality in less time.
Bottlenecks at the CMMs
Aerospace companies, and many other industries, require that manufactured parts be inspected with the CMM, because they have full confidence in the accuracy of its measurements. This exclusive trust, however, creates certain challenges.
Indeed, the CMM is a highly accurate metrology tool that is often used to inspect non-critical dimensions, leaving little availability for final inspections and important dimensions. Therefore, quality controls are delayed due to these bottlenecks at the CMMs. Moreover, the CMM is a measuring instrument that requires a specialised workforce to build and execute the programming. If the company does not have the human resources to do the inspection programs, the parts will accumulate as they wait to be inspected. Therefore, buying more CMMs will not solve the bottleneck issue; what is needed is the specialised manpower to operate them.
But that is not easy to find these days.
Quality problem detected at the end of the manufacturing process
Too often, manufacturing companies wait until the end of the manufacturing process to perform quality controls on manufactured parts. Moreover, not only critical dimensions are inspected at the CMM, but also all other dimensions, which lengthens the process, often resulting in delivery delays.
So, what happens if a quality problem is detected only at the end of the manufacturing process? The quality assurance team must then go through the whole process to investigate and find the root cause. This analysis may generate downtime and production delays, which will impact the part delivery and customer satisfaction.
Incorporate an alternative measurement method to detect quality problems faster
Rather than inspecting all dimensions at the CMM, which requires long programming time and involves qualified resources, the aerospace industry uses a faster and simpler alternative measurement method to inspect less critical dimensions. One example of this alternative method is a metrology-grade 3D scanner called the HandySCAN BLACK.
The HandySCAN BLACK 3D scanner excels due to its scan quality, accuracy, and measurement reliability. Certified to ISO 17025 and compliant with the German standard VDI/VDE 2634 Part 3, the accuracy of the HandySCAN BLACK is 25μm. Using a safety factor of 5x, for instance (i.e., five times more accurate than the smallest tolerance to be measured), the aerospace industry uses the HandySCAN BLACK for inspecting features with tolerances starting at 125μm (5x 25μm) or more.
With its 11 blue laser crosses, combined with new high-resolution cameras and custom optical components, the HandySCAN BLACK can perform up to 1,300,000 measurements per second in addition to generating an automatic and instant mesh. This means that, unlike a cloud file, the generated mesh is already lightened and processed, which reduces the need for data filtering and lessens the variability on data processing. Thus, the aerospace industry regains the same confidence it has in the CMM, because the data obtained with the HandySCAN BLACK are consistent and repeatable.
Moreover, since the HandySCAN BLACK is a portable device, it can be moved to any stage of the manufacturing process to perform an intermediate check without having to move parts. For example, it allows a pump to be inspected before machining to ensure that there is enough material and after machining to validate that the dimensions are accurate. The HandySCAN BLACK can also be used to check the dimensions of gears before and after their heat treatment. Only a portable metrology tool enables quality and production teams to perform these intermediate checks quickly and easily during the manufacturing process.
Unload the CMMs for the final quality controls
CMMs will always be the preferred measuring instruments for final inspections. However, these highly accurate devices must be available to perform the final quality controls. In other words, they must not be loaded down by all kinds of intermediate controls during the manufacturing process or by various investigations while troubleshooting production issues.
This is precisely what the HandySCAN BLACK is doing for the aerospace industry: unloading the CMMs by diverting less critical inspections to an alternative measurement tool. An in-house survey quantified that 50 percent to 90 percent of the dimensions could be measured with the scanner, allowing the CMMs to be available and used to their full potential and full accuracy for critical dimensions with tighter tolerances.
Improve manufacturing process
The more the parts are inspected during their manufacturing process, the less tedious the final inspection will be. Indeed, if the parts—whether pumps, gears, or casting—have already been inspected before and after their machining and before and after their heat treatment, the risk of detecting unexpected problems is lessened.
The final inspection on the CMM, now widely available, will only serve to control the critical dimensions, as all other features will have already been validated during the manufacturing process. These intermediate checks, performed during production, not only accelerate the manufacturing process, but also improve the quality of parts while producing parts in higher quantity. The same in-house survey quantified that intermediate checks with the HandySCAN BLACK improved the manufacturing process by 30 percent, either by producing 30 percent more parts during the same production time or producing the same number of parts 30 percent more quickly.
Find the root cause in quality assurance
Finally, the HandySCAN BLACK helps identify the root cause of quality issues that arise during production. Since it is accurate, fast, and portable, it can find the source of problems faster in order to minimise delays that could impact schedules and production deliveries.
The aerospace industry values the CMM for quality controls because of its high accuracy and repeatability. However, aerospace companies agree that the performance of portable scanners, such as the HandySCAN BLACK, positions this alternative method as a must to optimise its manufacturing processes. This fast, portable, metrology-grade measurement tool is increasingly proving itself to be an indispensable tool for performing quality controls during the manufacturing process in order to unload the CMMs and detect problems more quickly.
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) and the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center – Research & Development (OMIC R&D) have united to define a set of Metrology standards and to develop a Metrology certification process. Metrology, the study of measurement, has far-reaching applications in the manufacturing industry. The ability to compare and verify a physical part against its CAD model is in high demand, and that demand is predicted to increase.
A Global Industry Analysts, Inc. report, “Metrology Software – Global Strategic Business Report,” stated that the North American 3D metrology market, valued at $482 million in 2014, will grow to $726.8 million by 2020. Dimensional metrology is used widely in industries such as automotive, aerospace, energy, electronics, pharmaceutical, etc. Quality control jobs, like that of a Quality Technician or Manufacturing Quality Manager, are not currently being filled fast enough to meet demand.
Montez King, executive director of NIMS, said, “NIMS is proud to work with OMIC R&D to provide a benchmark for competency within the Metrology field. These standards and the certification process will allow students, employees, and trainers to identify the skills required in high-demand quality control occupations.”
Craig Campbell, Executive Director of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center – Research and Development said: “An often underappreciated but critical part of manufacturing is the ability to measure. This is especially important in metals manufacturing where failure to measure not only the end product, but throughout the machining process can result in products that do not meet specifications resulting in substantial waste in time, labor, and material. This partnership with NIMS will provide a clear standard for training in dimensional measurement that industry can rely on. I am excited about the impact this will have on manufacturing!”
The skills and certification metrics will be defined by compiling and comparing available metrology reference material, such as job descriptions, occupational duties, and performance requirements. Once this is completed, companies and educational organisations will be recruited to pilot the credentials. NIMS will collect feedback and work with OMIC to finalise all certification questions and standards.
Creaform has added the ACADEMIA 50 3D scanner to its ACADEMIA educational solution suite. This professional-grade, portable 3D scanner is the ideal solution for teachers looking to show students the benefit of handheld 3D scanners and their use in real-life applications, such as reverse engineering, industrial design and quality control.
Easy to set up and use by teachers and students of all levels, ACADEMIA 50 uses structured white light technology to scan objects made of any material, surface type or colour. Its technical specifications highlight its performance levels, with an accuracy of up to 0.250 mm (0.010 in) and a measurement resolution of up to 0.250 mm (0.010 in).
ACADEMIA 3D scanners are part of a turnkey educational solution that includes: 50 free seats of scan-to-CAD and inspection software to show students how to address any conventional or innovative engineering workflow, five-year ACADEMIA Customer Care Plan and self-training documentation. Creaform offers teachers a free Creaform ACADEMIA Sample Kit that gives academics didactic material to enhance their curricula.
“This latest addition to our ACADEMIA educational solution suite attests to Creaform’s commitment to the educational sector by offering the designers and engineers of tomorrow the tools they need to help them excel in their careers,” said François Leclerc, Marketing Program Manager at Creaform. “We offer a complete education solution that does not sacrifice on quality or performance — all at a cost the educational institutions can afford.”
ZEISS has successfully completed the acquisition of GOM GmbH, a provider of hardware and software for automated 3D coordinate measuring technology. GOM will become part of the ZEISS Industrial Quality & Research segment.
Both ZEISS Completes GOM Acquisition have enjoyed strong growth in the past years and proved successful on the market. The aim is to further strengthen this leading technological position together, especially in the area of optical digitization systems. The combination of existing products and solutions as well as joint innovations in the future will lay the foundation for shaping and entering new markets.
GOM develops, produces and distributes software, machines and systems for industrial and automated 3D coordinate measuring technology and 3D testing. Founded in 1990, the company is headquartered in Braunschweig, Germany, and has a global workforce of about 600 people. Its customers include companies from the automotive, aerospace and consumer goods industries as well as research institutions and universities.
The legal form of the GOM companies in Germany and abroad will remain unchanged, and cooperation with the global sales partners will be continued.