Metrology is the heart of your quality control and that doesn’t change in Industry 4.0 – if anything, it plays an even bigger role in data management and making real time adjustments to tool machines. Components can either be removed from the line and loaded onto a worktable where they are inspected by laser scanner, vision system, or contact touch probe. The inspection gathers thousands of data points which are compared to the CAD file. If any errors are detected, the CAM file (computer-aided manufacturing file, which tells the CNC what to do) is updated by the programmer or, and this is becoming more common in Industry 4.0, the machines make the adjustment in-spec. Essentially, when the machine tool suffers drift from wear or kinematics, the CAM file needs to be adjusted to compensate.

So what are the metrology tools that you need to speed up data collection, introduce in-line inspection, and move your shop into the future?

#1 Portable Arms

Portable arms are the standard in in-line metrology; they can inspect components on the line, without them having to be moved to a worktable, they can work on batteries and WiFi, and they can be used in conjunction with laser scanners and vision systems. They provide instant information on in-and-out-of-tolerance inspections and they are an affordable technology to purchase. They are also the standard equipment used by contract metrologists like Canadian Measurement Metrology.

#2 Laser Scanners and Vision Systems

Laser scanners can capture tens to hundreds of thousands of data points per second, making them ideally suited to complex geometries, fast in-line inspection, and CAD reverse engineering. Vision systems can be used for materials that can’t be captured by laser scanners, for example, a reflective surface; they take a picture of the component and measure the image rather than the component itself.

Because touch probes, laser scanners, and vision systems are all equipped to handle different inspection challenges, a Canadian Measurement Metrology CMM incorporating a multisensor system may be the solution that you need. They allow you to switch between the three: using touch probing for 3D parts and laser scanners for complex geometry.

#3 Shop Floor CMM

When used in manufacturing cells, shop floor-ready coordinate measuring machines provide an unparalleled level of accuracy, beyond vision systems, laser scanners, and portable arms. The use of hard bearings means that these machines aren’t damaged by contaminants or moisture in the air. They also feature real-time temperature compensation, sealed guideways, and they can be easily moved from one spot to another, unlike your typical coordinate measuring machine.

#4 DataPage+ SPC

DataPage+ SPC software is your key to managing and analyzing big data streams from multiple sources on the line. Once a luxury, this software is now considered essential for any shop; a statistical control process allows you to track machine performance over time. That knowledge is key to performing preventive maintenance, reducing errors and breakdowns, and fixing defects before they happen. With the right equipment and software, you can collect and analyze unprecedented quantities of data and achieve greater interconnectivity between your machines.