IMTS 2018: Focus on Automation and Digital Technology
Jun 30, 2019

IMTS 2018: Focus on Automation and Digital Technology

Automation, data and the need for speed were the driving forces behind the manufacturing quality assurance trends featured at IMTS 2018 in Chicago this past September.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2018 featured the latest manufacturing technology, providing innovative solutions for integrating new technology into smart factories of the future. The show’s Quality Assurance pavilion showcased high tech solutions for metrology and inspection.
High speed machine vision cameras and sensors combined in all-in-one solutions were trending at IMTS, according to Quality Magazine.
In the Quality Assurance pavilion, the magazine reported that speed, automation, data and other aspects of Industry 4.0 continued to move quality from end-of-line inspection to an inline process integrated into production. This allows closed-loop systems to send digital data in real-time, helping manufacturers fix production problems as they occur, which is essential to today’s automated factory floor.

“Many manufacturers at IMTS wanted to scale up to inline inspections that are faster and provide more data,” according to Mukesh Dulani, president of DWFritz. Non-contact metrology systems are a key enabler of speed. They utilize images captured by sensors, such as vision cameras or lasers, allowing rapid processing of high definition images.

“To change a probe on a contact machine takes cycle time. If we cannot measure at the speed of manufacturing, we are not doing a service to our next generation,” said Dulani.
The industry continues to move toward non-contact metrology, according to Jim VandeHei, DWFritz’s business development manager for ZeroTouch. Furthermore, high speed data acquisition from metrology platforms along with point cloud information is influencing manufacturing process decisions in real time.

Introducing ZeroTouch

At the show, DWFritz launched ZeroTouch — a high speed non-contact multipurpose metrology platform. This highly configurable system simultaneously measures multiple part features and complex geometries such as bores, undercuts and chamfers, in addition to complex surface topology measurements such as surface finish, color and gloss.
ZeroTouch garnered attention from many industry leaders, Dulani said. An executive from a multi-billion dollar bearing company shared with Dulani that he always looks for “the one new thing” at IMTS. He went on to comment that ZeroTouch was “it” for the whole show.
Automotive, aerospace, medical devices and equipment manufacturers expressed interest in the new non-contact system. Top executives from the 4 largest metrology companies stopped by to learn more about ZeroTouch, drawn by the buzz around the new technology.
ZeroTouch features a patented 5-axis metrology platform, including a rotating bridge that achieves part inspection speeds up to 10X faster than conventional tactile coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). The metrology platform’s unique bridge configuration incorporates multiple non-contact measuring sensors including optical, laser and confocal technologies, providing simultaneous part feature inspections and micron-level measurement.
This innovative non-contact technology takes inspection to a new level beyond CMMs.

“The tactile market is not seeing a lot of differentiation or new ideas outside of new sensors being adopted to ride on the probing structure, and more shop hardened options to put the devices closer to the manufacturing process,” said VandeHei.

Dulani believes that non-contact metrology is a game-changer for the inspection market. When he started working in the quality world in 1993, he remembers measuring parts on the shop floor with calipers and micrometer gauges.
“If I look at the last 25 years from where the quality world has come, we can compare it with the evolution of the rotary dial phone to a smartphone,” said Dulani.
Metrology suppliers are finding new ways to provide more value to their customers. Manufacturers at IMTS 2018 seemed to understand that metrology is more than a necessary expense, according to Advanced Manufacturing. It serves to add value to manufacturing, reduce costs and improve products. The key is integrated, easy to use systems such as ZeroTouch and the accessibility to the data.
DWFritz Automation LLC