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Embedded Metrology Drives High Speed Inline Gage Measurement Machines

Metrology News recently sat down with Pete Edmonds – Vice President Sales DWFritz Zero Touch for a discussion on its industrial metrology market and product strategy.

Q: Until the announcement of DWFritz being acquired by Sandvik most of our readers had never heard of the company. Can you provide a little background into the company and its experience in industrial metrology together with the overall strategic fit into Sandvik’s plans?

A: DWFritz has been in business for almost 50 years as a supplier of precision automation systems that included embedded metrology as a part of the manufacturing solution they provided. These fully automated lines were the driver behind the development of ZeroTouch and the reason DWFritz decided to develop an in-line Metrology solution that could be added into any production line.

Sandvik, who have more than 160 years of industrial know-how and leading positions in machining and additive manufacturing, combined with the latest developments in digital technologies, have been listening to the needs of their customers who clearly identified a need for high-speed, in-line measurement solutions. Adding DWFritz into the Sandvik Metrology portfolio of companies adds a clear entry into that market. DWFritz has the capability to offer complete automated production solutions with embedded metrology, or standalone Metrology solutions, depending on the needs of the client which is a unique offering in this industry.

Q: In the Sandvik acquisition press announcement, it stated “Sandvik would expand its current metrology offering and take a leading position in in-line metrology, including a broader position in high-speed, high-volume, non-contact inspection and assembly automation.” Can you elaborate on what this means in terms of standard product introductions and industry segments you are targeting?

A: The ZeroTouch GMM’s (Gage Measurement Machine) are the first metrology-based machines designed to be in-line and address the high-speed, non-contact, high-volume needs of manufactures. They are designed specifically with in-line metrology in mind. We have a current standard offering of three in-line machines and one nearline machine.

The ZeroTouch Rotary GMM is targeted at round/symmetrical parts such as brake discs, rotors, stators, and more. All can be measured and compared to a CAD model in less than 30 seconds.

The ZeroTouch Gear GMM is a platform for measuring 100% of gear teeth and other critical features by scanning every needed key feature of the gear and producing a full analysis of the data in 30 seconds. This is the first machine capable of this total high-speed measurement and is being used by manufacturers to help eliminate noise created by gears specifically noticeable on the latest electric vehicles.

Finally, the ZeroTouch Linear GMM is our latest addition to the platform and offers measurements of linear shaped parts such as hip stems and aerospace blades, and as with all of the platforms, it analyses these parts in 30 seconds or less.

Q: At the recent CONTROL exhibition, you introduced the European market to DWFritz with an impressive display of production gauging solutions. How do you perceive these products aligning against the traditional CMM?

A: We see the GMM Platform as the next generation of measurement technologies. They are not intended to compete against a traditional CMM in a lab environment as these units are capable of being used in-line for high-volume production.

CMM’s are used in an off-line capacity in a lab environment and are not capable for high-speed production lines where 100% measurement of parts is required.  The GMM platform is truly for high-speed in-line measurement and will revolutionise the future of production metrology.

Q: Does DWFritz develop its own sensor technologies?

A: We deliberately do not make our own sensors currently.  We work with leading sensor manufacturers to identify the best-in-class sensors for our customers’ applications.  Remaining agnostic in this area allows us to stay at the leading edge of technology for our customers.

Q: How are you partnering with Metrologic Group and its metrology software, also part of the Sandvik group of acquired metrology businesses?

A: We have a close partnership with Metrologic. We use their solutions where it makes sense for the customer’s application, but as with our sensors, we remain agnostic so that we can always best serve the needs of our customers.

Q: Given the automation pedigree of DWFritz, is the primary aim to deliver turnkey metrology gauging solutions to end-users rather than just deliver a generic standard product offering that the customer implements internally to support its measurement needs – which is typically the metrology OEM’s standard go-to-market strategy?

A: Our goal is to be able to offer the customer exactly what they require to solve their application. In the past issues have arisen when vendors argue as to who is wrong, almost always at the expense of the end customer. With over 40+ years of integration and automation experience, we have the proven capability to provide complete turnkey solutions. When we supply a solution, we take full responsibility for the customers success.

Q: How are your measuring solutions being run off at a customer facility? Are you performing Gage R&R’s rather than using an ISO standard, such as 10360, to verify system performance?

A: For the in-line systems we do a complete run off on each system using customers parts prior to the machine ever shipping. This includes a full GR&R. We repeat this after delivery and installation. On the ZeroTouch Flexible Metrology system we do a full GR&R, as well as a complete ISO 10360 verification, before shipment as well as after delivery.

We know that manufacturing is getting smarter, and metrology will play an increasingly more centric role in these factories, with minimized data latency being critical, to ensuring zero-defect quality.

Q: Where does DWFritz and its products fit into this new era?

A: Because we scan using high-speed, non-contact technologies, we are not only providing more data than has ever been provided in the past, we’re providing it quicker than it has in the past. This allows our customers the capability to make faster and more informed decisions on quality. With our speed and in-line functionality, we expect the days of long production runs with faults in parts to be minimized. No longer will part sampling be the only option for production. If desired, every part can be completely, or partly measured, and analysed, with data being communicated in real-time to processes upstream.

Q: You spent almost 20 years at Faro Technologies driving their sales organizations while delivering manual measurement solutions and were instrumental in driving the market uptake of laser scanning. How do you see the transition in manufacturing from these manually intensive inspection solutions into the DWFritz fully automated measurement approach?

A: My view on this is really very simple. For the past 60 plus years the CMM industry has focused not on getting measurements in-line but remaining off-line and providing sampling of parts to ensure correct quality. This leaves many manufactured components unchecked and open to potential faults. The ZeroTouch product platform that DWFritz has developed is designed to revolutionize this process by putting part measurements directly in-line. The high-speed scanning of all critical features on every part gives the customer faster access to more detailed manufacturing results.

For the longest time manufacturing facilities have been asking for the potential to move to lights out production and our systems allow for exactly that. I see the ZeroTouch product platform as a true revolution in the world of metrology and the first platform to really define the GMM (Gage Measurement Machine) in-line vs the CMM for offline use.

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