Advanced Metrology To Become Competitive Differentiator in Modern Manufacturing

In the technology-forward modern manufacturing industry, data is considered a strategic asset, and market leaders are evolving their processes and business models to harness its benefits. Savvy manufacturers turn to technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), collaborative robots (cobots), and advanced metrology to improve production efficiency and product quality. These technologies, especially 3D metrology, are finding increasing application in the portfolios of leading-edge manufacturers that recognize their benefits across the ecosystem.

Frost & Sullivan’s latest white paper, ‘Advanced Metrology Becomes Competitive Differentiator in Modern Manufacturing, discusses how advanced metrology enables design functions to improve products, processes, and manufacturing facilities. It also analyzes the ways sophisticated laser-based 3D metrology can modernize manufacturing and optimize performance.

“Modern manufacturing has embraced digital transformation due to its rapid and lasting impact on the bottom line,” observed Roberta Gamble, partner at Frost & Sullivan. “Advanced metrology is ideal for the production and assembly environments because, in the short term, it can enhance accuracy, reduce faults and resulting bottlenecks, increase customer satisfaction, and decrease errors across the process. Over time, the data and analytics resulting from advanced, laser-based 3D metrology can improve the entire build process, from creating more efficient factories to better supplier agreements.”

“Metrology has traditionally been a tool for quality control and inspection within manufacturing. However, as the sector races to modernize, leading manufacturers are finding they can leverage advanced metrology upstream in the factory’s build and assembly functions,” noted Michael Carris, Vice President, Product Marketing at FARO Technologies. “This increases build accuracy and enables more efficient improvements than only conducting reviews with the final product inspection.”

Some of the cross-organizational benefits of advanced 3D metrology include:

– Expanding inspection demand and capabilities as industries modernize. For example, parts inspections, part and component re-engineering and reverse engineering, and final assembly are increasingly becoming part of the quality checklist.

– Developing an alert system that flags any possible faults or failures as they happen. It can also be used in a feedback loop that improves products and processes over time.

– Evolving beyond testing individual products and becoming an integral part of future “self-driving” factories.

Moving 3D Metrology onto the Factory Floor

Production goals often focus on maintaining, optimizing, and improving manufacturing processes. Despite the manufacturing industry taking a leading role in digital transformation, the tools of the trade for building, welding, machining, and the like (such as a fixed coordinate measurement machine (CMM) are still relatively rudimentary. Laser-based metrology tools have been on the market for some time, but only recently have they been able to provide digitally precise metrics and infinitely more data during each phase of the build and assembly process with solutions.

Advanced metrology has a growing role in production, increasing build precision, reducing assembly time, and reducing costly rework. This can apply to anything from ensuring that a two-minute weld does not become a 30-minute correction to calibrating entire assembly lines to prevent faults, increase production, and reduce bottlenecks. The increasingly connected world of manufacturing and supply chains means that, while the process grows more efficient over time, outages on the production floor can have negative reverberations up and down the value chain. Solutions that help prevent (or even predict) faults or failures are critical.

Metrology tools on the factory floor can be useful to other parts of an organization as well. Design and quality teams are often viewed as cost centers, meaning that the return on investment (ROI) for advanced solutions is more difficult to quantify than in the build space, where any improvements that increase speed, efficiency, or accuracy directly affect the factory’s output. This is not to say production improvements are more important than design or quality, as all these aspects have a role to play in modern manufacturing. However, a solution that has an immediate and calculable ROI in production and that can also be leveraged in other areas and further improve the bottom line should be considered over those that are only applicable in one realm.

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