Metrology equipment, especially coordinate measuring machines, are the foundation of a shop’s quality assurance. Quality assurance is what makes the difference between an efficient, dependable supplier and a cheap competitor that will only lead to problems down the road. In the wake of high-profile stories about quality assurance blunders on the part of industry giants like Bombardier, manufacturers are keen to make sure the parts they source are the parts they want. A failure at the quality assurance level can easily lead to missed deadlines, finished products with deep flaws, and millions of dollars lost. It wasn’t long before municipalities across Canada, who had been waiting on Bombardier for commuter trains, turned to its competitors – your buyers won’t want the same thing to happen to them.
If your shop can’t deliver high-quality components, you’re going to lose out on jobs, and you can’t deliver high-quality parts without highly accurate metrology equipment. One of the most common errors found in QA is human error when using metrology equipment. Coordinate measuring machines, programmed to measure components using touch probes and laser scanners, significantly reduce those errors.
The process of purchasing a coordinate measuring machine is a big one for many shops, but it’s an investment worth making as they become the new normal in competitive manufacturers. While coordinate measuring machines are known to last for years, there are always new innovations in metrology, from new measuring instruments to new software, and it’s important to have a source of news and reviews about CMM equipment before you make your purchase. A coordinate measuring machine dealer can assist you with your purchase, but in broad strokes, there are 3 questions you want to ask yourself before buying.
#1 What Are You Measuring?
The size and specs of the components you need to measure go a long way in determining the type of coordinate measuring machine you need. Different types of coordinate measuring machines have different volumes; for example, a bridge has a smaller volume than a gantry, which is used by metrology experts like Canadian Measurement Metrology (CMM) when shops ship large components to their lab.
#2 Where Are You Measuring It?
While you’ve likely heard about metrology labs, where components are shipped to be measured in climate-controlled, air-quality-controlled conditions, it’s no longer a necessity. With portable arms and coordinate measuring machines designed for the shop floor, you can incorporate measurement directly into cells and speed up your inspection times.
#3 How Are You Measuring It?
Do you plan to use manual measuring with a portable arm and laser scanner, or do you have such a high volume of components to measure that the only solution is automatic? Automatic measuring can require considerable coordinate measuring machine training, especially with programming. Metrology dealers like CMM offer coordinate measuring machine training courses and E-courses that prepare your staff for advanced coordinate measuring machine programming.
The first step toward improving your quality assurance and keeping pace with your competitors is answering these three questions. Once you know how you can best utilize a coordinate measuring machine, an independent dealer will find you the right match.