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MEASUREMENT & INSPECTION


as metrology,” explained Jeff Estes, director of Partners in THINC. He also notes that metrology devices are expanding their role in manufacturing systems as automated systems become even more of a priority.


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One way that metrology has grown is on machining centers themselves. Estes pointed out that about 80% of machining centers today have on-machine probes. “Those probes can do a lot more than just check your part—you can use those to measure artifacts over time to establish trends about the machine itself,” he said, such as machine wear and accuracy. Another trend Okuma leveraged is power- ful, general-purpose computing by building its OSP machine controller on a Windows platform. According to Estes, this allows users to write a simple app to take such on-machine probe measurements and plot the data in Microsoft Excel. “Excel has tools like linear regression to make predictions,” he said. He likens these simpler predictive analytics to Little Data in contrast to the Big Data of attempting predictive analytics with terabytes of data. “Technology works best when you can simplify it,” said Estes. By converting com- plex processes into simpler, easy to understand steps “technology will be utilized and applied.” Looking into the future, he is excited about rapidly evolving vision systems that are offered by the metrol- ogy industry today. “Manufacturers are now using vision systems that measure down to the micron level,” he said. “Most vision is used postprocess, the next step is to use it in-process.” Another important feature of mov- ing data around is to have a recog- nized standard format. One such stan- dard is MTConnect, an XML format for machine-to-machine data exchange. “Okuma embraces and supports MT- Connect,” he said. The advantage of MTConnect is that it allows machines from different manufacturers to com- municate and let manufacturers build heterogeneous systems.


106 AdvancedManufacturing.org | September 2015


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