integrating measurement and closed-loop control with automated manufacturing processes allows those pro- cesses to both tolerate more variation at the input, re- sulting in more uptime, and produce less variation at the output, resulting in more quality in the product.”

the need for more automated metrology, driven by tighter engineering tolerances and more complex situations, even in high-volume industries like automotive. “If the measur- ing task is complex and demanding, automation is often the right solution,” Blind said. But there is more than tighter

The 360°FMC

(Flexible Measurement Cell) from Hexagon is a commercial-off-the- shelf work cell system integrating industrial robots, automation devices, products, processes and systems.

Variety and uses Beyond aerospace, automated metrology has found uses in a variety of industries. Among the wide array of metrology devices that are available, Kleemann agreed that most forms of optical or noncontact measurement are best for automation. He listed a number of such systems VRSI has experience in delivering. Laser trackers are ideal, he said, for global dimensional

control of automated assembly processes, especially in the larger volumes typical of aerospace applications. Laser line triangulation sensors or scanners are ideal for robotic feature measurement and guidance of robotic assembly pro- cesses. In the automotive industry, they are used on panel- loading robots to optimize the fit of doors and panels. In aerospace, they are often used to measure local features like step/gap, countersinks, and fastener flushness. Structured light or area scanners collect a lot of data at once, and work well in fabrication quality applications where surface geom- etry is critical or surface defects need to be detected. These include stamping, casting and machining. Finally, laser radar combines the volume and flexibility of a laser tracker with the automation of a CMM. A good example of a company that applies optical prin-

ciples to mass automation is Jenoptik. While providing air gaging as well as optics, optical methods are especially im- portant. “[It] is one of the important megatrends in industry today,” said Andreas Blind, VP of Jenoptik America. He sees

tolerances or complexity at work. Especially in automotive, product liability concerns have caused OEMs to require more commitment from their suppliers. “Globalization is also forc- ing this commitment, which means [they need] more consis- tency and uniformity in the parts they deliver,” he said.

Optical and tactile While Jenoptik provides optical, tactile, and air gag- ing solutions, each of which are delivered in automated systems, Blind said what makes optical solutions especially desirable is their flexibility. They are easier to reprogram for new parts and applications. This need is becoming more important because of uncertainty. “The uncertainty of the future is easy to predict,” he said. Volumes go up and down and model changes proliferate, making easy reprogramming vital. A good example of technology that adapts to uncer- tainty is the latest generation of the Opticline optical shaft measuring devices released two years ago. These measure profiles of shaft-like parts, boasting maximum allowable error, or MPE, values of less than 2 µm, the company said. The new series features a new 0.1-µm high-res camera for evaluating shaft-like parts up to 150 mm in diameter and 900 mm in length. Measurements include workpiece profiles, diameters and spacing, angle or radii, threads, rotation angles, and form as well as geometric tolerances, or outer contours of high-precision


Fall 2016

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