There are many challenges facing North American manufacturers today, including keeping up with automation and robotics, integrating the Internet of Things and achieving higher levels of data collection, and a growing skills gap as older generations retire without a new cohort to replace them with similar skills. While there are some challenges, like the unpredictable future of free trade in North America, that manufacturers can do little about, issues like growing demand for metrology and better inspection methods are not just challenges, but also opportunities for many shops.
More and more companies demand better accuracy and quality from their suppliers and investing in a new or used coordinate measuring machine is a great way to not only speed up and improve your inspection process, it can also help you land bigger and better contracts. However, there are a number of options out there when it comes to metrology instruments, and plenty of factors to consider before making a purchase.
Ultimately, the most accurate coordinate measuring machines on the market today remain traditional, fixed instruments such as bridge or gantry-style machines that operate on the X, Y, and Z axes.You can find them used from suppliers like Canadian Measurement Metrology, giving you significant savings while still getting years of use out of the hardware. The hardware is remarkably durable, often lasting for decades with the right maintenance, and they are easy to upgrade with new controllers and software to keep up with modern standards.
When it comes to shop-floor ready metrology instruments, nothing beats portable CMM equipment like ROMER arms, which can also be fitted with laser scanners, often a superior method of data collection to touch probes. Portable arms are one of the easiest metrology instruments to use and while they are manual, they are made to measure oversized components like automobile chassis and parts for aerospace. They also save you time loading and unloading components onto the tables of fixed coordinate measuring machines and transporting them to labs. Portable arms offer flexibility, on-site measuring, and convenience, and they’re a great entry-level coordinate measuring machine for many different purposes.
Keeping up with automation is one of the biggest challenges facing North American manufacturers today, especially as overseas competition achieves major advancements in robotics. One way that manufacturers can speed up their processes through automation is through DCC CMMs, which offer vastly better repeatability and faster inspection speeds. Fully automated coordinate measuring machines present operators with an easier interface, meaning they need less training than full-fledged metrologists, which can often be obtained from a metrology dealer when you purchase the equipment. While they may be more expensive than manual alternatives, if you’re inspecting in high volumes, they will save you labor hours. Even if you’re inspecting “one-off” production lines, automatic machines can help you create a program to measure based on the component features. At the end of the day, choosing the right coordinate measuring machine depends entirely on the kind of components you inspect.