Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has launched the APODIUS Absolute Camera AAC, a camera-based sensor designed for the fine analysis of large numbers of small repetitive features such as the drill-hole formations often found in large aerospace components. The sensor is specifically intended for integration within an automated robotic inspection system controlled by a Leica Absolute Tracker AT960, and can also be integrated directly within a production machine.
The AAC offers feature analysis at a finer level of detail than other non-contact measurement solutions. Accuracy is to within just 10 microns for diameter measurements, even on holes with sub-millimetre diameters – alternative non-contact measurement options available for automated integration typical struggle with holes less than 18 millimetres in diameter. And with a measurement speed of 10 Hertz, the AAC can keep up with robot movement of 100 millimetres per second, allowing it to cover a square-metre area densely populated with small features in less than five minutes.
“We’ve seen many requests from aerospace users for a solution like this,” said Jonathan Roberz, Managing Director of APODIUS at Hexagon. “Small holes can be extremely challenging to measure quickly and accurately – some customers are still using pin gauges because of a lack of better solutions, while others have to move their part onto a nearby CMM and give up many of the productivity benefits of an otherwise automated system. This new sensor offers the opportunity to finally remove such manual processes from otherwise modern automated inspection by finally delivering a system that has the accuracy these applications require in an fully automatable form.”
Within a Laser Tracker Automated Solution, the AAC can become a key part of a complete automated inspection system. It is fully compatible with a tool changer system, allowing it to be used alongside a dynamic surface scanner such as the Leica T-Scan 5 to provide automated inspection of every aspect of large components with no compromising on feature accuracy.
Hexagon will demonstrate how it is innovating to meet the fast-evolving needs of the aerospace and defence industries with a range of connected software and hardware systems at the Paris Air Show 2019, which is being held on June 17–23.
Visitors to the aerospace exhibition will see first-hand how discrete software and hardware solutions from Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division connect to form tool chains that lay the foundations for data-driven aerospace manufacturing ecosystems. On Hexagon’s stand, a continuous digital process, using digital twin and equipment monitoring technology, will show the development of an aeroengine blade from the design and engineering stages, through production, to the final quality inspection of the finished blade by the GLOBAL S HTA CMM solution.
Hexagon’s software and hardware systems underpin aerospace manufacturing at every level of design, production and final assembly on all sizes of parts and types of aircraft. They also support aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul. A Leica Absolute Tracker ATS600 on the stand will display the benefit of using large-volume 3D measurement for large structural assembly.
At the Paris Air Show, there will also be an opportunity to see Hexagon’s Geospatial division’s demonstration of a 3D flight training simulator based on Luciad technology. It combines static flight plans and dynamic aeronautical data, and provides real-time and post-training feedback and evaluation of any deviations from the designated flight plan and the disruptions that might cause.
A non-contact, high-resolution and fast measurement technique known as optical interference technology can be used as a measure for development and quality control. By Dr Sun Wanxin, Senior Applications Manager, Nano Surfaces Division, Bruker.
Surface finish plays a significant role in the functions and reliabilities of materials and devices. Understanding surface wear and its underlying causes can be critical to the manufacture and maintenance of automotive and aerospace parts, such as bearings, seals, drive trains, shafts and brake components.
Improving the adhesion energy between coatings and substrates can make parts more reliable. For example, by controlling the surface roughness of engine parts, lubrication can be improved as lubricant trapped on the surface is tailored by surface texture optimisation.
Additionally, by controlling the properties of the surface texture, visual effects can be changed significantly, such as making optical interference technologycar paint look premium.
Limitations Of Stylus Profiling
Quantitative measurements of surface finish can be traced back to the 1930s. A tiny stylus was scanned across the sample surface and the vertical movement of the stylus was recorded against the lateral position, forming a line profile.
From the line profile, more than 100 parameters have been defined to describe the surface texture, including commonly used average roughness (Ra), root mean square roughness (Rq), peak counts (RPc) and more.
However, the stylus profiling method has a few limitations. First, stylus profiling is a contact-based technique; there is a possibility of damaging or contaminating the sample. In addition, the size of stylus limits the spatial resolution of this method. Lower spatial resolution may result in measured results that are not relevant to the application. The third limitation of stylus profiling is its limited sampling size, where only a line is measured and important characteristics of the surface might be missed.
To circumvent this problem, most commercial stylus profilers now have 3D mapping, which is performed by scanning multiple lines to form a 3D surface. However, the time taken for one measurement can take hours to perform. This makes it prohibitive to use 3D mapping in routine surface measurements.
Measurements Through Optical Interference
It is highly desirable to have a non-contact, fast, high-resolution, and 3D surface measurement technique for development and quality control. The answer is 3D optical microscopes: these devices measure surface finish through optical interference technology.
A resolution of sub-nanometre in Z and sub-micrometre in XY has been demonstrated on 3D optical microscopes. The typical time used for one measurement ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the surface roughness.
The 3D optical profiling data gathered would be the equivalent to taking hundreds of parallel line scans with the stylus profilers, which could easily take many hours to complete.
One unique merit of 3D optical microscopes such as Bruker’s NPFLEX 3D surface metrology system is that the sub-nanometre resolution in Z is independent of the measurement range in XYZ. For some samples, the height variation in one field of view can be up to several millimetres.
The device can also measure sub-nanometre resolution within the 10 mm Z range. In terms of XY dimensions, one measurement can cover an area from tens micrometres to a few millimetres by using different objectives.
If an even larger measurement area is required, the 3D microscope can do a stitching scan, where a series of single measurements will be stitched together to form a large area up to eight inches in XY. In routine measurements for quality control processes, all the measurements can also be automated.
After each measurement, the required surface parameters can be calculated automatically and checked against the preset criteria to report a fail or pass. If robotics is integrated, the 3D optical microscope can also be used as a sorting tool based on part quality.
Data Analysis Provides A Better Understanding
The rich information in the 3D data provides a more comprehensive understanding of the surface.
For example, shape and volume of each corrosion pit can be analysed automatically through one measurement. Spectral distribution and angular distribution of surface finish can be calculated automatically, which is important to understand the root cause of such surface texture and quality control for some products, such as sealing components.
To meet the requirements of different applications, all the surface parameters in ISO standard have been implemented in the analysis software, including commonly used roughness parameters for 2D profile and 3D surface, spectrum for periodicity and directionality analysis of surface texture, geometric parameter extraction, such as height, depth, width, area and volume. To support production environment and eliminate human error, data analysis and data logging can be automated.
In summary, 3D optical profiling provides a versatile, rapid, non-contact characterisation of surface texture for both research laboratories and production floors. 3D optical microscopes are a vital metrology platform for precision engineering, engineering materials, microelectronics, manufacturing, automation and quality control.
Multisensor systems have evolved considerably over the years as the component technologies for motion control, optics, lighting and cameras have improved. Tim Sladden, Quality Vision International, tells us more.
Multisensor coordinate measuring machines that combine vision, touch and laser sensors have been used in manufacturing quality control for nearly 20 years. Many still recall the early days of multisensor systems when the primary sensor worked well, but the additional sensors – sometimes added almost as an afterthought, offered limited capability and poor accuracy.
Today’s multisensor systems have advanced to the point that all sensors now offer full capability and accuracy. Limitations inherent in earlier designs have been removed through more careful integration of the sensors with the measuring axes.
Improvements in the metrology software are the greatest enabler of comprehensive multisensor capability. Measuring software has evolved in ways that allow each sensor to be truly integrated and measure with consistent uncertainty at all times.
Along the way the economic benefits of multisensor measurement systems have become clear: reduced capital and calibration expenses, shorter learning cycles, added flexibility and convenience, and most important – lower overall uncertainty in the measurements.
Manufacturing Processes Improved
To highlight the full range of capabilities of today’s multisensor measuring systems, let’s look at three types of parts and how their manufacturing processes have been improved by using multisensor measurement.
In Figure 1, we see a femoral implant being measured with a calliper. This is not that simple orthopaedic implants are among the most complex-shaped devices being machined today – there is simply no way to measure the critical dimensions and form of these parts with a single sensor system.
For starters, the highly polished surfaces of knee implants are extremely sensitive. Even casual contact by a tool or gauge could damage the surface finish, causing friction that could lead to improper fit and ultimately pain in the patient receiving the implant. To measure these parts, a variety of non-contact or minimally invasive tools – vision optics, lasers or very light contact probing force – are needed.
More importantly, femoral implants consist of a series of curves controlled by profile tolerances, each of which is simultaneously constrained by the material condition of one or more datum features. These geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) conventions enable the designer to specify the form of the part exactly, but make verifying the part a challenge. To properly measure this part, the measurement points must be collected, and then fitted to the CAD model in their entirety in order to ensure all material conditions are properly evaluated. Data from tactile, scanning, laser and optical sensors needs to be integrated with the CAD model, and powerful software is needed to perform the GD&T evaluation.
Enter the modern multisensor system. A system with telecentric optics, through-the-lens laser, and a micro-scanning probe can measure the outside dimensions, profiles and curves without damaging the part, and compare the data directly to the CAD model.
The manufacturer of this part faced high re-work and scrap rates, in spite of careful machining, polishing and measurement. Compounding the issue were disputes about dimensional conformance between different measurement techniques.
Multisensor measurement solved the first problem, by accurately measuring the critical features without damaging the part. True multisensor software enabled the data to be fitted to the CAD model and applied the GD&T standards properly.
This combination enabled the manufacturer to eliminate disputes about measurement accuracy between different gages, and ultimately reduce the number of finishing steps needed to produce the part to customer specs. All of which reduced scrap and re-work costs substantially.
Our next example is a large casting with a variety of machined surfaces, mounting holes and bearing ways on each of its four sides. This part has more than 50 discrete dimensions that must be controlled to ensure fit and function within the assembly it is part of. Many of these dimensions relate to datums on opposite or adjacent sides of the part. Ideally, the part would be measured in one set-up, without having to re-stage the part to enable measurement of all its surfaces.
While access and tolerance issues make a tactile scanning star probe (Figure 2) the ideal sensor for the bearing tracks, other features such as the small blind holes on the adjacent face are best measured using video, while surface flatness measurements on the mating surfaces are best made using a laser. The custom made flip fixture in this photo automatically indexes the part to present each side to the sensor array for measurement. This casting is a component in a complex assembly that relies on machined-in precision for the reliability of the overall mechanism. Thus, measurement is critical to the overall quality of the end-product.
For the maker of this part, multisensor measurement offered a number of benefits. Most significant was the time savings of being able to confirm all dimensions on one system, rather than having to program, stage and measure on several different systems, then combine and compare the data to determine if the part met spec. Another significant benefit is that the multisensor system offered the same uncertainty regardless of the sensor used.
In our third example, we see another complex machined casting – in this case, hydraulic transmission housing. This part presents a challenge to measure in a single set-up. Not only are there dimensions along the outer stems and top flange, there are dimensions on the seal surface and spline more than six inches deep inside the part. To access all these features in one orientation, long working distance optics and a LWD laser are needed to reach features at the bottom, as well as scanning probe capability to measure inside dimensions on the stems and interior profile.
Once again, the combination of scanning probe, laser and video measurement makes quick work of measuring this complex part. The laser quickly gathers a large pattern of data from the mating surface on the top flange. Flatness on this seal surface is critical. The scanning probe measures the interior profile in several locations, as well as the inside diameters of the in-flow and out-flow stems to calculate interior volume and flow rate characteristics. The long working distance laser also reaches to the boss on the inside of the spline for a flatness measurement, and long working distance optics quickly measure the gear teeth and ball bearing positions in the ball spline.
Each of these three examples illustrates the value inherent in a high quality multisensor measurement:
In all cases, it was possible to measure the entire part on one measuring system – saving the cost of buying and maintaining multiple measuring systems, and eliminating the differences in uncertainty between differing measurement technologies.
The range of sensors available enabled the key dimensions to be measured using the best sensor type for the feature without compromising efficiency or accuracy. Deployable and long working distance sensors help eliminate interference between sensors and minimise offsets that use up valuable measuring range.
Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division launched LightRunner, an advanced positioning tool that transforms automated 3D optical measurement by eliminating mapping time during the setup and measurement of parts. 3D optical measurement systems enable manufacturers to rapidly capture rich data sets from large surfaces and assembly features for defect detection and process control, making them essential in industries including automotive and aerospace. Until now such systems typically required a lengthy mapping process during setup, with each new part referenced by the placement of markers before automated measurement could begin.
This approach is time-consuming, so Hexagon has developed LightRunner’s patented pattern projection technique and advanced software algorithms to improve productivity and shorten cycle times by removing mapping and robot stabilisation time. LightRunner automatically projects millions of reference points on to a part’s surface to provide constant absolute positioning for high-speed, non-contact, 3D optical measurement systems, providing confidence in the results without the need for CMM correlations. The LightRunner solution also accelerates initial part programming and eliminates the need to store reference panels or the use of reference frames on the fixtures, reducing operator workload and minimising training requirements for shop-floor users.
Fernando Funtowicz, Senior Product Manager, explained: “Manufacturers are increasingly turning to fully-automated 3D optical measurement systems to help them digitally transform production, gain greater insight into their processes and build on their investments to develop faster, more accurate techniques that drive productivity. LightRunner removes some of the major challenges of implementing automated 3D optical measurement, enabling more manufacturers to benefit from the rich data capture it offers. This system has a major effect on the utilisation and productivity of automated optical measurement and enables better process control without the need to buy new tooling, fixtures or robots.”
Tolerances on blade manufacturing tightened as OEMs drove to differentiate themselves by offering high performance lawn and garden products. To achieve customer goals, Blount International knew they had to incorporate more automation into their quality inspection process. Article by Mark Thomas, Marketing Director, OGP.
As a leading manufacturer of equipment, accessories and replacement parts for the lawn and garden market, Blount International was looking to improve their profitability and exceed their customer delivery expectations. They were faced with the problem of how to economically produce a variety of nearly 1,900 different OEM lawnmower blades. The large selection of blades required by their OEM customers meant short production runs and multiple tooling changes each day. Their goal was to improve product quality while controlling costs and meeting shipment commitments.
Tolerances on blade manufacturing tightened as OEMs drove to differentiate themselves by offering high performance lawn and garden products. To achieve customer goals, Blount knew they had to incorporate more automation into their quality inspection process.
The Need For 3D Metrology Scanner
The company had always used traditional methods of measurement such as hand callipers and height gages to verify the conformance of its mower blades to customer specifications. The company’s Engineering Manager, Brian Brunk, believed that complex product features could be measured more efficiently with a 3D metrology scanner that can quickly and accurately verify part dimensions, regardless of shape complexity.
A ShapeGrabber 3D scanner from OGP was selected because of the ability to provide fast, accurate, noncontact measurements of nearly any material or shape without the need for special tools or fixtures. The scanner was also large enough to handle the largest Blount product offering.
Compared to conventional tactile CMM techniques, measuring one point at a time, 3D scanners capture millions of surface points on even the most complex geometry parts, and can quickly compare the results to a CAD design. Deviations from the CAD design are easily identified, making tooling acceptance decisions fast and accurate – meaning part production can start sooner, and with higher confidence.
Beneficial To Entire Production Process
Graphical models of ShapeGrabber measurements make part quality decisions easy without tying up other measuring systems. Melissa Rice, Continuous Improvement Coordinator at Blount detailed their process with the ShapeGrabber system: “Before we release a new die for production, we do a capability study to prove the accuracy of the die and qualify the tooling. ShapeGrabber provides the ability to do that through automation rather than manual inspection. ShapeGrabber has assisted us in improving our first-pass yield. When we can produce a quality part the first time, the entire production process benefits.”
For in-process inspection, the ShapeGrabber system has been proven to be easy-to-use and highly automated. After an initial scan, the same scanning parameters may be used for subsequent parts, delivering consistent results irrespective of operator skill or experience. Ease-of-use is manifested daily as dozens of production personnel routinely use the scanner, each having just minimal training.
Culture Of Quality
An unexpected benefit of the ShapeGrabber scanner system has also been reported: it is supporting a “culture of quality” at Blount. Employees are taking more ownership of the products and their quality. “The 3D scanner has engaged the people who use it more than they were engaged before. Now, we see employees taking more ownership of the products and their quality throughout the manufacturing organisation,” remarked Mr. Brunk.
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr Lim Boon Choon, President of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, APAC, regarding current trends in metrology.
Could you provide us with an overview of the current trends regarding metrology in metalworking?
Metrology continues to be important to assure quality in the final products, but customers are beginning to see the importance of process control, not just quality control. By process control, I mean getting metrology into the production area as well, and not just the quality room. By installing hardware and software in the production area, customers can check critical dimensions directly during the production process and ensure that the products are within specifications. This will help to ensure that there is less chance of products getting into the metrology room a few hours later and finding that the products do not meet the requirements and must be scrapped or re-worked.
Another trend is the use of non-contact scanning. Customers are coming up with very highly polished materials or mixture of different materials that may be sensitive to scratch marks. Non-contact scanning prevents scratches and speeds up the inspection very quickly.
The third trend is the increasing use of additive manufacturing as a complement to traditional manufacturing.
How has Hexagon kept up with these trends?
Over the years, Hexagon has developed or acquired various technologies that allowed us to implement in-line, next-to-the-line, or off-line inspection. We help customers build quality into their process from Design and Engineering, to Production and to final inspection. Increasingly, we also provide automated inspection systems that allows customers to use metrology in the shop floor to control the process and reduce scraps and rework.
For example, our AICON TubeInspect solution is a unique equipment for customers producing tubes. They can place their tubes in our system which measures the bending angles within a second and calculates the correct bending parameters to be sent back to the tube bending machine. This kind of close loop process helps customers to get their tubes right quickly and saves a lot of time and cost of rework.
We also have software like NC-SIMUL that simulates the machining process, Hexagon production software for finding the best cutting strategy, SIMUFACT for CAE simulation of additive manufacturing, Q-DAS and eMMA to monitor the manufacturing process and manage the relationship between parts, shop floor and portable CMM that allows us to measure the parts directly in the production area.
Another example of our products being shop floor ready is that we designed our CMM to have in-built message lights (Global S CMM), and pulse sensors that monitor vibration, humidity, temperature in real time.
Hexagon is now helping customers to optimise product innovation at various stages like Design, planning, production, quality assurance and post Production, and also our ability to link and integrate all data through our Smart Factory solutions and Assets Management system.
What are the main challenges faced by the metrology industry?
With the market going for more innovative products that may be highly customized, manufacturers are faced with high mix low volume situations. They need solutions that are easy to implement, robust and well connected to their manufacturing systems.
Many customers know that they need information to make good decisions, but there is a general lack of understanding of what can be done to tap in the information from various equipment (connectivity problem), and how to get actionable data; not just data, but actionable data.
How can they be overcome?
It boils down to leadership. Leaders have to be bold, have vision and courage to change. Start small and scale up quickly.
Rethink quality. Quality is not just in the quality room but should be built into the products right from how we design the product, how we ensure the design is strong, can be produced cost effectively, and the equipment and software are suitable to produce the product consistently. Look into process control, and not just quality control in the Quality room.
Moving forward, where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 to 10 years?
With the push towards Industry 4.0, and especially with government encouragement and funding, I think manufacturers will want to implement more and more smart systems – automated solutions on the shop floor and monitored with software that gives them smart diagnostics and even artificial intelligence built in to identify problems early. Process control and non-contact scanning will also be increasingly prevalent.
ZEISS is expanding the industrial metrology and quality assurance portfolio of its Industrial Quality & Research segment by acquiring GOM, a leading provider of hardware and software for automated 3D coordinate measuring technology. Both ZEISS and GOM 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 digitisation 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.
“Our growth strategy expressly mentions the targeted acquisition of highly innovative solutions, technologies and companies, which can reach their full potential as part of the ZEISS Group,” said Dr. Michael Kaschke, President & CEO of ZEISS. “By acquiring GOM and thereby expanding our solutions portfolio, we are bolstering the leading position of our Industrial Quality & Research segment and will be able to offer even better solutions for our customers. This is entirely in keeping with our corporate strategy, which is focused on our customers’ success.”
Combining the ZEISS product portfolio with the optical 3D measuring technology from GOM has the potential to create new opportunities and expand market access for Industrial Quality & Research. GOM offers cutting-edge solutions for surface digitisation, which will strengthen ZEISS in this area. Dr. Jochen Peter, Member of the ZEISS Executive Board and Head of the Industrial Quality & Research segment, explained: “With this acquisition, we are pursuing our goal of achieving a leading position in the area of surface measurement and digitisation. Customers and users in both areas will benefit from the strengths of GOM and ZEISS in the areas of software and hardware.”
“Being part of the ZEISS Group will open up new opportunities for GOM in the future, which will also positively impact the site in Braunschweig and our business partners. By pooling ZEISS and GOM’s process and solutions know-how, we can tap into new customer segments and applications,” said Dr. Detlef Winter, Managing Director of GOM.
FARO has released its advanced BuildIT 2019 software suite which represents the evolution of the BuildIT platform. It offers three individual products, each specifically designed for the most challenging quality inspection, manufacturing and assembly or construction applications. Each product includes the most flexible and intuitive user interface in the industry.
While the BuildIT 2019 solution suite is tightly integrated with FARO hardware products, it also enables consistent, high-quality outcomes for non-FARO hardware products.
BuildIT Metrology 2019
BuildIT Metrology 2019 elevates the standard for workflow optimisation and productivity for alignment, inspection, and build applications by incorporating key customer learnings from the previous generation that include:
Point cloud alignment and registration up to 10 times faster and file size reduction for analyses by up to 70 percent
Improved robustness of GD&T evaluation using feature-specific extraction settings for analysis
Dynamic reporting that automatically pre-populates analysis reports and reduces report preparation time
Advanced automation capabilities for creating repeatable, guided, automated workflows
BuildIT Projector 2019
BuildIT Projector 2019 allows manufacturers to plan and operate imaging laser projection and verification workflows to improve the quality and speed of assembly processes. Together with the FARO Tracer Imaging Laser Projector, it is a core component of the first and only all-in-one solution for laser-assisted templating and verification.
Included standard in the first generation were groundbreaking features as In-Process Verification, Feature-Based Alignment, and Foreign Object & Debris Detection. BuildIT Projector 2019 enhances these features to create a completely new, operator-friendly paradigm that includes:
Report generation that clearly identifies completed tasks and the results of In-Process Verification.
Automatic re-alignment of the laser projector where BuildIT Projector detects that the base part has moved
A more intuitive user experience through a variety of enhancements, including setup and operation through a joystick controller
BuildIT Construction 2019
The previous generation version of BuildIT was the first consolidated software and hardware solution designed from the ground up as an end-to-end, fully integrated Building Lifecycle Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) management tool. BuildIT 2019 offers a unique set of value added enhancements that include:
A comprehensive Tank Analysis Package to determine and identify critical issues in the plant facility that support faster modification and renovation
Significant reduction in on-site cycle time from laser scan projection data preparation to 3D visualisation
Streamlined raw scan import process with the Scan Import feature that automatically detects targets and facilitates faster alignment with the software
Numerous other workflow efficiency improvements that include file size reduction, faster rendering and clipping box functionality
“We are in the business of making best-in-class software that enables best-in-class solutions,” stated Vito Marone, Senior Director 3D Solutions. “The entire BuildIT suite is leveraged from our cutting-edge 3D metrology capability derived from 20 years of proven expertise in delivering best-in-class measurement solutions to the manufacturing industry. As such, BuildIT 2019 is central for both our customers and users of other hardware products to derive the highest level of performance that the hardware itself supports.”
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Hendrie Viktor, Regional Director at ZEISS Southeast Asia regarding current trends in the manufacturing and metrology industry.
1) Could you provide us with an overview of the current trends regarding the manufacturing industry in Asia?
In an attempt to soften the effects of globalisation, productivity and quality gain drives are most evident. Competing with neighbouring companies are no longer enough to secure one’s business interests. Through globalisation and commoditisation to some degree, the bar on price and quality has been raised exponentially. As a result, some manufacturing industries were adversely affected by consolidation. In my opinion, Asia in particular has been subjected to this harshly but responded well over the past decade—a great example are the quality gains on “Made in China” over the last few years. The relentless expectations on price competitiveness and quality standards has reached a point where traditional, incremental cost and quality gains are no longer enough and reaping the benefits of smart manufacturing or industry 4.0 is crucial.
2) To keep up with these manufacturing trends, what are the newest developments or technological advancements in ZEISS’s metrology solutions?
We address our customer’s ever-increasing productivity and quality requirements through solutions that enable manufacturers to inspect or measure faster and more frequently than before. Gone are the days of random sampling in a quality lab. In-process inspection and shop floor metrology have brought significant time savings and quality gains. Multi-purpose measuring instruments have replaced the need for multiple set-up’s, and workflow solutions have brought insights into manufacturing processes and quality that were previously unseen.
ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions has been and still is at the forefront of the inspection and dimensional metrology transformation and plan to keep it this way moving forward. We continue to make significant investments, at least 10 percent of our revenue, into R&D annually in order to continue to deliver market-shaping innovations.
3) With increasing digitalisation of the manufacturing sector, what are the main challenges faced by the metrology industry?
Firstly, the sudden shift can be overwhelming and we’ve seen countless processes being digitalised for the sake of it—with huge amounts of digital data being collected, but not put to good use. Determining where, when and how frequently digital data needs to be collected as well as how it will be put to valuable use is crucial but it remains a great challenge for many since skill shortages in the field of digitalisation exists. There is also data and platform incompatibility, or rather standardisation hurdles to overcome as suppliers mostly develop their own Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms. Lastly, data handling and security still deters many companies from taking that leap.
4) How do you think these challenges can be overcome?
Relevant education and continued learning will go a long way towards addressing hesitation and will help ensure digitalisation efforts pay off. I see the need for industry and universities or technical schools to work hand in hand. That will stimulate the need for faster adoption. Alliances between machine manufacturers can address platform and standardisation issues to unlock IIoT benefits. Such an example can be seen in the recently founded ADAMOS alliance, of which ZEISS is a founding member of.
5) Moving forward, where do you think the industry is headed in the next five to 10 years?
With the pace of today’s change, it would be difficult to even predict this with some degree of certainty. I think the value-add from productivity and quality gains through digitalisation and new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing is going to be tremendous that consolidation is going to happen on a much broader scale. I see low volume, high mix through flexible manufacturing becoming a norm and thus bringing manufacturing closer to the end user, further reducing non-value-added costs. This will call for a very different approach to metrology.