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Precision in every measurement

Precision in every measurement

January 31, 2024 7:58 pm

Metrology precision is driving innovation in manufacturing. Metrology is reshaping industries, particularly in automotive and CNC machine tool manufacturing. From advanced sensors and laser techniques to automation and digitisation, this inclusive overview explores the metrology applications in driving precision, quality, and innovation in the era of Industry 4.0.

In manufacturing, metrology and measurement science are emerging as the power behind precision, efficiency, and innovation. Recent developments in this field reshape industries, particularly automotive and CNC machine tool manufacturing, where precision is paramount. The transformation toward automation and digitisation in precision measurement highlights the shift from manual labour to innovative technology, along with the role of advanced sensors in acquiring data and improving efficiency. 

The metrology ensures quality and efficiency in manufacturing, particularly in sectors like automotive and CNC machine tool manufacturing. The development of 3D measurement solutions, portable CMM, robot-mounted optical CMM scanners, cloud-based software application platforms, and dimensional metrology services are the impetus to the growth in the market. Moreover, the rising need for inspection, measurement, and quality checks of various components in the automotive sector is driving growth. The automotive industry has increasingly used optical measurement systems and coordinate measuring machines (CMM) instead of conventional meters to improve vehicles’ safety and comfort.

The industrial metrology market for the automotive industry is experiencing growth due to a shift in preference from offline quality inspection to near-line or in-line measurement methods. This change is driven by the desire for shorter inspection times in the automotive sector. One game-changer in this field is BMW’s innovative, fully automated, in-line measurement cell for quality control. This cutting-edge solution integrates measurement processes seamlessly into the production flow, operating 24/7 if required. This in-line measurement cell exemplifies the industry’s commitment to precision and efficiency, featuring four robots and advanced measurement methods, including Laser Radar.

Metrology, an essential part of manufacturing, enables detailed precision measurements and inspections at every stage of the manufacturing process. This rigorous approach helps reduce defects, minimise the likelihood of product recalls, and enhance customer satisfaction. It is about more than maintaining standards. The metrology ensures reliable comparisons and facilitates seamless collaboration across various departments. The growing quality requirement in industries for production is the prominent market driver for growth. According to Market Research Future study, the Metrology market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.4 percent to USD 15.44 billion by 2030. Additionally, the automotive market’s demand for quality control and inspection applications is consistently growing.

Metrology influencing the automotive industry

Metrology’s influence on the automotive industry is profound and multifaceted. It is not an overstatement to say that without the precision and accuracy afforded by advanced metrology, the automotive sector would face complex challenges relating to quality, functionality, and cost-efficiency. Perhaps even more crucial is metrology’s role in ensuring vehicle safety, which has recently reached unprecedented levels.

Anup Verma, Managing Director – Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence India, underscores the influence of metrology on the automotive industry. Beyond being a mere tool for measurement, metrology ensures the precision and accuracy crucial for addressing complex challenges related to quality, functionality, and cost-efficiency. With the advent of autonomous and electric vehicles and increased automation with robotics, metrology’s role has become even more crucial. The rise of in-line metrology techniques, real-time reporting, and IoT and machine learning integration is catalysing automotive manufacturing. These advancements enable the production of high-quality vehicles, optimising production costs and increasing profitability, thus making metrology a driver of innovation and excellence in the automotive sector.

Diverse applications across industries

Metrology is becoming a measurement tool and a critical component for part validation and quality assurance. While traditionally used in manufacturing, healthcare and aerospace, metrology’s influence extends into diverse sectors such as electronics, energy, medicine, and defence. As the world embraces globalisation, the importance of metrology in supporting diverse industries becomes even more apparent, especially in a country like India, which is actively participating in this global ecosystem.

India’s commitment to self-sufficiency is apparent in its emphasis on electric vehicle manufacturing, electronics production (including white goods and mobile devices), energy-related items, and initiatives for indigenisation, modernisation, and privatisation in the defence sector. These efforts highlight the increasing significance of metrology in ensuring the cost-effective production and globally competitive products. These are bolstering the growth and sustainability of the metrology sector. Government policies, including redefining MSMEs and encouraging private participation, further amplify metrology’s role in ensuring the production of cost-effective and globally competitive products.

 Self-reliant initiatives

The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ initiatives are proving well-timed catalysts for the metrology sector. Aligned with the global emphasis on self-reliance and innovation, these initiatives focus on key sectors like electric vehicle production and defence indigenisation. Redefining MSMEs, expanding private sector participation, and increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) contribute to the growth and sustainability of the metrology sector. And, in driving India towards self-reliance, these sectors aim to produce low-cost, globally competitive products. It provides an impetus for the growth and sustainability of the metrology sector.

The sustained emphasis on the ‘Make in India’ initiative and the flourishing startup ecosystem has resulted in the emergence of numerous Indian organisations in the manufacturing sector. This trend contributes to increased sales of traditional products, fuelling optimism for the metrology industry.

The nation’s efforts to boost manufacturing align with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. It focuses on providing manufacturers across India with quick access to advanced metrology solutions. Aveen Padmaprabha, Head of Industrial Quality Solutions at Carl Zeiss India (Bangalore) Pvt. Ltd., recommends empowering enterprises to catalyse a manufacturing revolution, empowering enterprises not just to meet but exceed global benchmarks, contributing substantially to the vision of a Make-in-India initiative.”

Precision measurement vibrates

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According to Sanjay Sangam, Head of Sales & Marketing – India at Renishaw Metrology Systems Limited, the precision measurement industry is undergoing a seismic shift. The transition towards automation and digitisation is reshaping the industry, reducing dependency on highly skilled personnel. Advanced sensors are pivotal in autonomously performing tasks, generating data that empowers data-driven decision-making on the shop floor. However, the dynamics are changing rapidly. The focus is on providing customers with cutting-edge systems and tools that can seamlessly replace the need for highly skilled personnel in the measurement process.

This shift is not just about automation but also about embracing digitisation. The contemporary mindset is geared towards acquiring vast amounts of data, precisely where advanced sensors come into play. These sensors are adept at autonomously performing tasks, eliminating the necessity for skilled labour. The result is a wealth of data that empowers decision-making on the shop floor. The transition is clear – skills are gradually being supplanted by sophisticated systems, sensors, and technology, ushering in a new era of efficiency and data-driven insights.

Metrology trends and solutions

Current metrology trends strongly emphasise secure data storage and streamlined accessibility, reducing the need for operators in data retrieval and analysis. Uday Dixit, General Manager, Polyworks India, highlights. There is a move from 2D drawings to 3D CAD models, encompassing all essential information from 2D drawings, such as nominal and tolerance values, alignments, and other details. This enables measurement room operators to access all required data directly from the 3D CAD model, making the process simpler by enabling them to download the model and have the complete program readily available.

The traditional image of metrology confined to enclosed, air-conditioned spaces is giving way to solutions directly applicable to the shop floor. Sargam remarks that a shift is occurring in metrology as industry professionals increasingly seek solutions directly applicable to the shop floor. There is a growing demand for tools that can be utilised on the shop floor for measuring parts, marking a significant evolution in measurement practices. Simultaneously, advancements in standard rooms, particularly for Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM), focus on multi-sensor technology, enabling CMMs to go beyond tactile measurements. This means capabilities like measuring surface finish and thickness and incorporating ultrasonic probes for non-contact measurements—all integrated into a single machine. Referred to as multi-sensor technology, this marks a great leap forward in the capabilities of CMMs.

Laser techniques with remarkable speed, accuracy, and precision set them apart, making laser technology virtually ubiquitous in metrology equipment. It has changed the approach to measuring and inspecting parts, particularly in domains such as metal forming. These techniques are particularly effective when dealing with large parts. Optical metrology, leveraging the power of optics for accurate and efficient measurement, is gaining speed, especially in electronics and medical device manufacturing, states Ekant. The automotive sector is witnessing a shift towards automated facilities. With the rising popularity of electric vehicles, the demand for reliable and high-quality processes is expected to drive substantial growth.

Road ahead

As technology advances, innovative solutions become crucial to meet and exceed global standards. India’s strategic positioning in global manufacturing competitiveness, coupled with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ campaigns, propels metrology into a central role. With a focus on sustainability, quality, and efficiency, the metrology segment aims for robust growth in the years to come.

There is a growing need for comprehensive education and skill-building programs, especially in India, to prepare the workforce for emerging challenges and opportunities.

India is strategically positioning itself to scale production and redefine manufacturing with a focus on sustainability, quality and efficiency. In conclusion, metrology is not merely a scientific discipline but the driving force behind a manufacturing revolution, steering industries towards precision, innovation, and a future shaped by ‘Make in India’ excellence.

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Anup Verma, Managing Director – Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence India
“Metrology is evolving from a conventional measurement tool to a critical component for part validation and quality assurance.”

Uday Dixit, General Manager, Polyworks India.
“The latest metrology trends emphasise secure data storage and streamlined accessibility, reducing the need for operators in data retrieval and analysis.”

Sanjay Sangam, Head of Sales & Marketing – India of Renishaw Metrology Systems Limited
“There is a growing demand for tools that can be utilised on the shop floor for measuring parts, marking significant progress in measurement practices.”

Aveen Padmaprabha, Head of Industrial Quality Solutions (IQS) at Carl Zeiss India (Bangalore) Pvt. Ltd.
“Offering cutting-edge devices directly to the masses enables them to achieve unparalleled standards of precision and quality.”

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