Metrology specialist announces restructuring
Measurement Solutions, the UK partner for Creaform 3D portable metrology and Metrologic Group inspection software, has announced plans to re-structure its business activities in response to the changing demands of customers and the 3D measurement and scanning market here in the UK.
Originally founded in 1998 as a solution provider for users of co-ordinate measuring machines (CMM’s), Measurement Solutions has grown to be one of the UK’s leading independent providers of CMM services and solutions as well as 3D scanning technologies. However, with manufacturing industry progressively moving away from traditional fixed CMM solutions towards portable metrology systems, in particular hand-held scanning technologies, and the implementation of automated inspection using industrial robots, the company has announced a radical re-structuring of its activities. Above all, these changes will provide customers with a more responsive and technically capable sales and support experience.
The measurement and inspection market has seen massive changes in recent years. Iain Caville, company founder and managing director, comments “Throughout the last two decades, the metrology landscape has remained somewhat stagnant, with CMM’s and portable arms being the only viable technologies available for inspection and QC. This gave users little choice when it came to metrology solutions, with the same companies dominating the supply of measuring equipment. However, recently we have seen the emergence of radically new and innovative technologies such as optical measurement and 3D scanning from exciting new enterprises, such as Creaform. These new technologies have opened the eyes of anybody involved in measurement and inspection as to new ways of acquiring quality measurement data.”
Dedicated technology teams
The new business structure will see the formation of two separate technology teams, each dedicated to different market application and product requirements. The new Portable Metrology Division, headed by Jason Bridge, who has over 20 years sales experience within the metrology and 3D measurement sector, will focus primarily on portable measurement solutions, providing an array of 3D measurement and scanning systems for a wide range of applications. Activities will focus exclusively on sales and support of portable measuring systems for industrial applications, such as the market-leading HandySCAN3D and MetraSCAN3D solutions from Creaform, providing customers with a wide range of metrology, inspection, product design, and reverse engineering solutions, with the flexibility to operate with all types of CAD and inspection software.
To fully complement these activities, David Harper will head the new Metrology Integration Division to focus heavily on providing software solutions to make full use of customer’s 3D measuring systems. This will include not only traditional CMM applications and services, but will also be dedicated to providing quality control solutions through the integration of proven metrology software within the emerging automated measurement market using industrial robots. With over 30 years’ experience in CNC CMM applications, David Harper brings a wealth of automated inspection knowledge to this relatively new market sector.
Iain Caville continues “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for our future business development. For many years we have been tremendously successful in providing customers with class-leading measurement and scanning technologies. Our portable scanning solutions are easily the fastest selling systems throughout the World, and we now recognise the additional need to create a dedicated team of engineers to deal with the growing market in inspection using industrial robotics and to better address our customers’ needs to better implement existing measuring systems.”
The new Metrology Integration Division will provide the latest CAD based inspection software for traditional measuring devices, such as CMM’s, portable measuring arms, laser trackers and portable 3D scanners. Utilising the class-leading Metrolog X4 suite of software, any make or model of measuring device can be brought right up to date to deal with today’s measurement and inspection demands, in most cases irrespective of age or condition. The software has direct interfaces to most CMM controller systems, so users have the possibility to upgrade a machine without having to change controller hardware, enabling them to continue using their legacy software for existing parts and to fully utilise the new software for future programs. In addition, the new team can also offer complete CMM retrofits, including CNC controller hardware, hand-box controls, probing systems, etc., and being ISO17025 accredited can also provide UKAS certification according to the latest standards.
The main reason for the restructure however, is to address the growing demand for integrating metrology solutions with industrial robots. In this case, the Metrology Integration Division will approach the robotics sector from a completely different perspective than has been seen so far in the market, effectively treating a robot inspection cell just like a CMM. A typical robotic inspection cell consists of an industrial robot, a measuring device (such as a laser or structured light scanner) attached to the robot, software to program the robot movements, and metrology software to analyse the results. Current solutions are exclusively offered either by a robot supplier or by a measuring device manufacturer, offering the end-user with little or no flexibility to adapt or select alternative robots and/or measuring technologies. In addition, these also require the customer to learn and implement multiple software packages for each step of the process.
The new approach offered by Measurement Solutions is to focus on the implementation of Metrolog X4 i-Robot as a single integration software that can connect all robots and all measuring devices into a common cohesive solution. Metrolog X4 i-Robot is a dedicated 3D inspection and metrology software that is the only software solution able to provide off-line and real-time robot programming, metrological analysis and PLC integration, all-in-one software package. The key advantage of this approach is that the user has complete freedom to combine any make of robot with any make of measuring device. There is no limitation to the flexibility offered, as users can select the best combination of robot and measuring device to suit their specific application needs and support requirements, and can easily exchange or upgrade measuring technologies if required in the future.
Metrolog X4 i-Robot builds on the already proven 3D inspection software that has been developed over 30 years by Metrologic Group. With thousands of licences in use throughout the world at many leading manufacturing organisations, such as Boeing, Airbus, BAE Systems, BMW, Nissan, VW Group and many of their major supply chain partners. The software is the only solution that can fully address any combination of measurement system and device configurations, with direct interfaces to all makes of CMM, robots and probing & scanning devices. The key benefits are flexibility and standardisation, as the software enables users to fully utilise any measuring device using one common software platform, removing the need for additional training and a dependency on specialist inspection personnel.
“We want our customers to be able to take full control of their measuring processes, and not have to compromise and adapt the process due to limitations imposed on them by the robot or measuring device provider,” says David Harper. “With the X4 i-Robot solution, the customer is free to choose any combination of robot and measuring device. For example, they may have a preferred robot integrator or scanning system provider who they wish to work with, or even have existing robots or scanners available that they would like to utilise for this purpose. We can combine all devices into a fully automated solution, which can even be programmed by the user just like a traditional CMM, without the need for intervention or dependency on third party programming companies.”
Iain Caville concludes: “This is just the first step in re-inventing our relationship with the market and our existing and future client base. We have more exciting developments coming in 2018 that are sure to provide our customers with more opportunities to fully integrate the latest measuring technologies into their current and future manufacturing processes.”