Monday, December 21 marked the longest night and the shortest day of the year. Known as the winter solstice, it marks the first day of winter and the day that Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. Because Earth is tilted on its axis by 23 1/2 degrees, the tilt of the Earth is what causes winter and summer.
In the Northern Hemisphere spring will officially begin on March 19. For 10 to 20 percent of the population, winter, with its short days, murky skies and lack of sunlight, means the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The depressive condition is said to occur four times more often in women than in men. Whether or not you have SAD, the environment—outside or inside—can influence behavior, mood and motivation.
Trends are interesting, especially at the beginning of a new year. If you Google health you’ll see headlines that tell you oat milk will be the new almond milk, prebiotics will be the new probiotics and fats will be the new protein. If you look up fashion for 2019, bamboo bags and statement sneakers are all the rage. Artificial intelligence is slated to grow while pure cable TV is expected to die a slow death.
We talk a lot about how important accuracy is when it comes to measuring parts. The aerospace, medical device and automotive markets, in particular, crave precision. Yet the coordinate measuring machines that perform these tasks also have to be able to withstand rugged environmental conditions. Intuitively, we all know that temperature variations impact probe measurement characteristics as well as the characteristics of the parts being measured.
Medical device makers have a lot to keep up with these days when it comes to measuring parts. Adoption of additive manufacturing is growing. 3D printed parts must meet dimensional integrity standards but may not be suited to conventional measurement methods. Casting, plastic and metal injection molding and electrical and chemical erosion techniques also create components too complex for traditional measurement methods. So what is a manufacturer to do?
I'd just graduated from high school when I saw Star Wars in 1977. I basically witnessed the moment that cinematographer George Lucas changed the way movies are made by pioneering a new direction for computer animation and digital effects. Now, 40 years later, digital IQ technologies are changing the way manufacturers operate. Consider for example the "smart factory." Its goal is to help companies gain significant real-time quality, time, resource and cost advantages from their production systems. Coordinate measuring machines play a key role as parts become more complex, with tighter tolerances and shorter customer lead times. But don't just take our word for it - let's hear from Pratt & Whitney's Wayne Nye.
These days, when it comes to measuring parts, manufacturers have their choice of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), many of which can perform touch, non-contact, and mobile inspection. Take, for example, the lab-grade Revolution Linear Motor (LM) CMM. Advanced CMM technology like Renishaw’s REVO 2 allows it to perform non-contact inspection, while its precision measuring head and probe system collects data at a rate of 4,000 points per second. Additionally, infinite positioning and 5-axis motion offers access to complex features. Add Renishaw's PH20 and use the LM for 5-axis touch trigger work. Need mobility? Consider the Revolution Series HB. It uses PH20 technology, making it the only mobile 5-axis CMM on the market. See? Lots of choices.
Whether you're manufacturing jet engines or medical equipment, growth starts with the right people and products. The best products are developed in direct response to manufacturers’ feedback about the kinds of tools they need to solve problems, streamline their processes and ensure a customer never sees a bad part.The right CMM (also known as a coordinate measuring machine) can help accomplish all of the above. The linear motor-driven
Manufacturers’ Monthly recently reported on disruptive technology trends poised to emerge in 2017, citing “more connection, more automation, and more significant impact in business and investment than ever before. “ Automated banks will proliferate; big data will get bigger; the Internet Of Everything will “truly begin;” space exploration will become more affordable and mobility will dominate from shopping by phone to working from home.
Etymology traces the word “turnkey” all the way back to the 1650s, where “jailer” was derived from turn [verb] plus key [noun]. Today the word is used in commercial real estate to describe a space for rent or sale that's move-in ready. Manufacturers, though, typically define turnkey as a prefabricated package that contains everything needed to perform a given task.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” It can sometimes seem that way in manufacturing. Take coordinate measuring machines. Everyone is looking to improve throughput for parts inspection. However - is purchasing a new CMM the only way to get there? Many CMM manufacturers (OEMs) will say "yes." We say that new isn’t always better. Retrofitting or upgrading an existing CMM are also effective options. Some OEMs offer all three - new, retrofit or upgrade - and making an informed choice can lead to results that boost your bottom line. Let's take a closer look at the three choices.
Benjamin Franklin said, “The doors of wisdom are never closed.” Depending on your perspective, his words could apply to the wisdom behind designing and producing a coordinate measuring machine controller with an open architecture design. Despite the fact that a standards-based solution offers manufacturers a number of advantages, most OEMs are marketing branded hardware and software.
"It's a jungle out there." The idiom was coined to describe situations considered dangerous or threatening. But it can also apply to purchasing a new CMM, especially when it comes to navigating the different software and hardware choices.
Depending on your application, it can be difficult to know where to start. Conventional prismatic geometry can’t be used to define or measure free form surfaces. Understanding the kind of data your applications will require is an important first step. But you also have to consider other variables. For example, you never know what your customer will send you. The software functions you need today may not be what you need tomorrow. You have to ask yourself what your objectives are and evaluate what you really need from your hardware and software. Making a checklist can be a helpful tool. Paying attention to the way data flows and the standards customers are using is another consideration.
"Count the cost" is a phrase that's hung over most of us at one time or another like an ominous cloud. As a kid you may have heard something like it when you pleaded for a puppy or made a case for your first car. The Cambridge and MacMillan Dictionaries define the idiom as the first step to “defining how badly something has affected you.” Author Daniel Defoe's protagonist Robinson Crusoe learned the value of these words after he disregarded his father’s advice, went to sea, met with disaster and was marooned on an island for four and a half years. “Now I saw, though too late, the folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it,” he writes.
Remember the Maytag Repairman? He emerged in television commercials during the 1960s as the loneliest man in town - because the appliances never broke down. Nowadays people are more likely to sigh and wistfully say, "They sure don’t make them like they used to." Statistics show that Americans replace their cell phones every two years. Computers can be expected to last at least three years but experts tell you not to push your luck past five. And if you do happen to be in the market for a new appliance like a washing machine, you’ll find the Maytag Repairman is now the Maytag Man - with a new job! Instead of sitting in a deserted shop setting, commercials now feature him taking the place of a downed appliance and performing its tasks until the equipment can be fixed.
With the International Manufacturing Technology Show, aka IMTS, less than three months away, I interviewed Dave Delph, president and co-founder of AIMS Metrology. He talks about what manufacturers need most and how coordinate measuring machine (CMM) technology stacks up to the challenges.
When it comes to OEM service and support for coordinate measuring machines, it should be a no brainer right? Truth is, the only thing harder to find than a CMM programmer is a technician with the skill sets to calibrate and service a CMM. It’s an industry wide problem and it has left a lot of manufacturers high and dry. One of the contributing factors can be traced back to 2007 when dire stock predictions prompted large CMM companies to start shedding service technicians. Anticipation of a downturn in machine requirements led companies to reboot their bottom line by picking low hanging fruit [well-paid service technicians] first.
Finding Forrester, Finding Nemo, Finding Neverland – Aside from sharing similar titles, each of these films features a protagonist who is looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Nowadays, it’s a little like that for companies looking for coordinate measuring machine programmers. Having worked in this business for more than 30 years (and having done my fair share of watching headhunters and combing through listings), I have some theories about why qualified CMM programmers seem to be as rare as spotting an endangered snow leopard in the wild.
“It's always best to start at the beginning--and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.”
This famous line from L. Frank Baum’s beloved Wizard of Oz is spoken by the Good Witch of the North when Dorothy asks her for directions to the Emerald City, through miles of uncharted wilderness. For most manufacturers, Industry 4.0 is new territory. Trying to balance demands for more parts in shorter timeframes, while trying to connect the right software and measurement tools to make sense of expanding data chunks, can seem a little like trying to navigate a path through no-man’s land.
Tracking the world economic forum? Monitoring manufacturing trends here in the U.S.? If you produce a product, you're likely feeling the impact of Industry 4.0. Underpinned by automation, innovations like 3-D printing, smart technology and real-time data, the new industrial revolution is here along with the tools to help companies increase productivity and reduce costs across their supply chain.