Automated production line in modern factoryWhen it comes to coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) most of us focus on what’s right in front of us—the parts we need to inspect. Fabricators tend to be equally concerned about CMM features that can increase throughput while maintaining accuracy and quality requirements. In today’s smart factory environment the need for machine-to-machine communication and the capability to collect data that is actionable has put the spotlight on another piece of the package; the software.

You can’t realize the full picture of an IIoT smart factory without the ability to collect and analyze electronic data. CMMs are typically tied to equipment like CNC machines which in turn are linked to an enterprise resource planning program that funnels data through a manufacturer’s propriety software or one provided by an OEM. This allows the company to continually monitor the status of each machine. Is it running? Is it idling? Is it in need of maintenance? They are able to make real-time decisions based on analysis of that data.

There’s another factor to consider as well. The HB, the only 5-axis mobile CMM in the industry, can talk with machines and other software systems because of Renishaw’s open architecture controller. It drives the HB while Renishaw Modus software makes it possible for the CMM to talk to other machines and facilitate the flow of data.

Choosing an open architecture system over a closed one isn’t the road block a fabricator might face. A number of OEMs are changing their software packages without providing a migration path for customers with existing programs. If you have 10,000 programs in a million dollar machine and your OEM doesn’t provide utilities that can help you make the transition, you can count on making your investment again in a new software language.

But don’t think you are out of the woods even if you can afford to make the switch. New licensing practices mean companies can no longer purchase AutoCAD or CAD platforms. You can only buy the right to use the programs. And those of us who use Microsoft products for example, also know that bugs are typically inherent in each upgrade – a scenario that leads customers right back to the need for not only the right software but the right service and support.

That means staying on top of your calibration maintenance schedule dates.  Most CMMs run on a calibration cycle of one year. When scheduling your maintenance visit be sure to give yourself a lead time of at least 2 months or more because the waiting list for some companies can be up to 6 months. Missing your window for calibration means you could find yourself on the other end of an audit. If you can’t verify your products they have to be tagged as risk release components. If you happen to make aerospace parts and you are audited, you may have to recall all shipments and provide a 100 percent inspection.

In addition to calibration, programming and training, we support our CMMs with QC-CALC and MODUS software. Renishaw’s MODUS supports our 5-axis Revolution Series CMMs.  The configurable user interface allows native DMIS programs to be developed offline. An operator can draw geometry and embed dimensions and tolerance data from CAD, feature construction and part alignment.  MODUS supports  I++DME compliant metrology controllers – including Renishaw’s UCC range of universal CMM controllers, CAD-driven offline programming with on-screen probe path verification. The CMM environment, fixture and the location of the part on the machine can be defined for simulation and crash detection of 5-axis measurement programs.

Our other software option, QC-CALC Real Time, collects and displays measurement results from all CMMs, Video CMMs, and hand gauges without operator intervention. An operator can create reports and export data to spreadsheets, databases, and to QC-CALC SPC or other SPC programs.  The program provides one interface for all machines and one interface for all outputs. QC-CALC Office Buddy integrates with Minitab, JMP and MS Excell to run reports using the CMM data collected by QC-CALC Real-Time.  QC-Sort can quickly identify bad parts on a multiple-part inspection fixture.

Both packages have the capability to connect machines in smart factory environment and collect big data in real time.

Need the right software? Need a single source for hardware, service and support? We can help you put the pieces of your production puzzle together.

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