Smart Factory: Measurement Technology Controls Production

Industrial metrology, previously mainly dealt with in quality assurance areas, will play a very central role in the production of the future. Therefore, the goal of the metrology specialists are closed feedback loops.
Source: Messe München

Dr. Ing. Kai-Udo Modrich, Managing Director of Carl Zeiss Automated Inspection, is convinced that “measurement technology will control production autonomously in the factory of the future and ultimately enable zero-defect production”. “Progressive companies are already evaluating measurement data in and on the production line via software tools, so that conclusions can be drawn on the production machines.” People are still interpreting the data and then optimizing the manufacturing process. “In the future, however, there will be closed loops. Measurement data will tell the welding robot autonomously how much energy it has to apply at which point. Then we will not see any more mistakes in production.”

Reinforced with software

To equip itself for the future, Zeiss is not only expanding its own software and cloud offerings. With the acquisition of the Ulm software house Guardus, the company has also acquired additional expertise in terms of computer-aided quality assurance (CAQ) and manufacturing management (MES).

The measurement technology competitor Hexagon is also pursuing a very expansive acquisition strategy, and it was already renamed from Hexagon Metrology to Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (MI) in 2015 to underline its growing expertise in data-oriented manufacturing solutions.

For the combination of “Sensing, Thinking, Acting”, Hexagon has acquired all sorts of software expertise, including the CAD/CAM company Vero and the quality data specialist Q-DAS. Its latest acquisition is the French NC simulation specialist Spring Technologies. Hexagon CEO Ola Rollén stated: “The acquisition of Spring Technologies strengthens our ACE strategy of an Autonomous Connected Ecosystem, which will ultimately enable the smart factory.”

Digital, automated and networked

Of course, Zeiss and Hexagon are not alone with their vision of closed loops. For Tadashi Nakayama, who is head of the measuring technology industrial unit at Nikon, quality 4.0 with closed-loop control between measurement and process is currently a big issue. Mr. Nakayama: “It's all about measuring, analyzing data and feeding the results back into the manufacturing process.” To produce this closed loop cycle, three properties are decisive for measurement technology, Mr. Nakayama stated: “It has to be digital, automated and networked.”

“Smart Manufacturing takes quality assurance out of its unpopular shadowy existence and gives it a new, central role,” Alicona Managing Director Dr. Stefan Scherer said. “Measurement becomes the smart eye of production. Defective components are no longer produced; a first part is immediately a good part.”

Source: Zeiss IMT