Decoding Data

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, coined the phrase the Fourth Industrial Revolution in 2015. That same year North American metalworkers and fabricators were introduced to Industry 4.0. Schwab said, “we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another.” He believed this fusion of physical, digital and biological spaces would impact all disciplines, economies and industries. And in many ways it has, from the rise of artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing to quantum computing.

Mining data from smart sensors, cloud computing and the interconnected Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform have become the norm for many manufacturers. Statistics show that more than 70 percent of the world’s gross domestic product will go through some form of digitalization in 2022. By 2023, investment in Direct Digital Transformation (DXT) will total $6.8 trillion. Cloud data storage worldwide is expected to reach 200-plus zettabytes by 2025.

The drive to propel growth through data-informed decisions has fueled another revolution. The coordinate measuring machine (CMM), with infinite 5-axis probe head positioning and a single platform solution software, has migrated from the labs of high-tech aerospace and medical device companies to fabrication shops. CMM manufacturer AIMS Metrology, 5-axis probe system pioneer Renishaw Inc., and measurement solutions expert Verisurf Software Inc. talk about how the combination of their technologies is helping users wade through information overload and thrive.


“The promise of Industry 4.0 was big data,” says Dan Skulan, general manager, industrial metrology for Renishaw. “The challenge for fabricators is that raw, unorganized data has to be grounded in actionable, accurate information that is collected in real time at the point of process. Otherwise, the data you receive is worthless.”

“A hard-bearing CMM that can be moved onto the shop floor and placed next to a machine can capture precise, usable intelligence at the point of use,” he continues. “Fundamentally, real time metrology is foundational to anything that is Industry 4.0 driven.”

In addition to the need to analyze and understand vast amounts of data collected from machine tools and production processes, fabricators are encountering new quality assurance challenges and increasing customer demand for 100 percent parts inspection. Coupled with the labor shortage and supply chain disruptions of the last two years, the need for a shop floor 5-axis CMM is now as central to parts production as a fiber laser, press brake or machining center.