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Getting Back In CONTROL

So, CONTROL 2022 is ‘in the books’. It was great to finally get out of the home office and see so many old physical and new virtual acquaintances, sharing stories, catching up on both business and personal news, and generally physically interact with fellow humans again. For sure there is no better networking environment than an exhibition.

This year’s CONTROL exhibition occupied one less hall than the previous event, three years ago, and not all active halls were fully occupied. Certainly, many exhibitors had elected to occupy smaller spaces and also cut back financially on booth structures; the overall impact was no less impressive. It was also good to see the large booth presence of companies, who were start-ups not so many years ago, having now grown into significant industry participants.

Zeiss ATOS ScanBox

Surprisingly, few new products were announced at the show confirming that new products now get launched, when ready for market, and no longer held-back for major industry physical events as was past common practise. The commitment made by all exhibitors was impressive and the event, although a little more compact, still represented an amazing depth of industrial metrology technologies capable of solving just about any manufacturing measurement application that exists today.

International travellers, other than those associated with exhibitors, seemed to be in short supply. Just as well since the daily show newspaper was only printed in German!!! The absence of the traditional show-guide paper book was also a disappointment, and somewhat of a surprise, making navigating around the halls to locate exhibitors more difficult. Overall attendance appeared to be down from past years begging the questioning again of the role trade-shows will play in marketing plans over coming years.

This year all exhibitors took the opportunity to present their latest ranges of products, many of which were launched virtually during the dark days of COVID, and the event represented the first opportunity of exhibitors to showcase these numerous products in physical form to attendees.

Robots featured strongly at the event with a focus on integrated inspection processes, shop-floor measurements and smart factory process control integration. Data generated from these automated events also received a significant focus delivering solutions to effectively utilize the generated data in simple actionable formats.

During the lockdown period we have reported on many of the industry acquisitions that have occurred. Companies were showing many of the acquired technologies on their booths integrated into their measuring solutions enhancing their overall product offerings. Zeiss for the first time shared a common booth with the acquired GOM company products and showcased their full integration into the Zeiss portfolio.

API 9D LADAR ‘as scanned’ data screenshot

The DYNAMIC 9D LADAR launched by API at the event certainly created a ‘show-buzz’; it being recognized that the platform represented a ‘step-forward’ in metrology technology and one that has an integrated metrology automation role to play in the future.

The Metrologic Group launched their NextMeasure software for portable metrology devices offering a subscription model for users. The free viewer module allows the generation inspection reports from imported data with a ‘pay as you use’ pricing structure for the measuring module.

Bruker Alicona launched its new InfiniteFocusG6 5-axes metrology optical metrology platform focused on areas of usability and performance for production metrology applications.

Kreon debuted its new Onyx portable arm with a completely new product architecture. The simplified and more rigid assembly of the Onyx arm makes it extremely reliable and durable, for flawless measurement results even in the most challenging environments.

Metrology Solutions Trumps Metrology Equipment

Metrolog X4 i-Robot software aimed at metrology system integration

After walking the floors of the show the underlying opinion formed was one of metrology solutions becoming a primary focus for many suppliers rather than their just offering generic metrology products. This appears to represent a new and emerging trend. Many exhibitors were offering specific industry sector customized measuring solutions rather than just the normal smorgasbord of metrology products which the customer can take home and apply to their specific measurement task(s).

The overall message coming from the show-floor was that metrology has now moved out of the laboratory and onto the production floor requiring a different approach to the market. Of course many suppliers are already active in delivering automated shop-floor solutions for automotive powertrain and car-body construction applications but it would now appear that many other industries and sectors will be following the automotive lead.

Metrology Systems Integrators

DWFritz Assembly line with integrated metrology

The robot industry created a whole industry segment of system integrators over past decades who customize standard robots into sophisticated engineered solutions to meet customer specific requirements. It appears that the metrology sector could also be on the verge of moving in the same direction as metrology gets more integrated into smart manufacturing with integrating measuring including much more that just supplying fixtures and inspection part programs.

DWFritz, now part of Sandvik, were first-time attendees at the exhibition. The company designs and manufactures custom high-precision automation solutions ensuring superior product quality and high throughput, and provided an indication of just where the sector is headed, by showcasing a number of automation cells engineering around standard sensor offerings from 3rd party suppliers.

In Summary

It’s great to see that the industry has financially survived the dark days of COVID and appears equipped and ready to support global manufacturing as it transitions to smarter factories where metrology will play an ever more centric role in delivering increased product quality, elimination of defects and reducing overall manufacturing costs.

CONTROL remains a unique event by offering the only industry forum to showcase the depth of the sector, its supplier base, and spectrum of available technologies.

The organizers have announced that 595 exhibitors were greeted by 18,531 visitors with the event occupying almost 23,000 square meters over six exhibition halls; this compares to 871 exhibitors and 27,252 visitors for the 2019 event.