QMT Features: March 2009
Retrofit debut
Renishaw enters the CMM retrofit market with a ‘one stop shop’ solution, providing 5-axis measurement technology to a much wider market place

“Sink or swim - need a lifeline?” is the theme of Renishaw’s new marketing strategy. Right on cue, Renishaw, one of the world’s leading metrology companies headquartered in Wootton under Edge, Gloucestershre, has launched a brand new metrology solution aimed at maximising current resources and improving quality.

The solution is to provide a low cost, low risk CMM retrofit service to manufactures wishing to upgrade their existing CMMs. Why would a manufacturer wish to retrofit his old CMM in tough times? Simply put, a retrofit can transform the performance and capability of the CMM, increasing throughput and adding automation.  In the process, non-conformances and rework can be reduced - key elements in increasing a company’s productivity -  thus reducing costs and improving quality. In addition, the company is now better placed to take advantage of the upturn when it comes.

Why would Renishaw want to enter this fiercely competitive retrofit sector, one that many OEM coordinate measuring machine manufacturers see as an important element in their marketing mix,  with after market sales providing up to 30+% of sales revenues? In addition, there are plenty of independent companies competing  for business.

Firstly, because they can. Renishaw has already developed and manufactured many of the metrology elements making up a CMM system, starting with the invention of the Renishaw touch trigger probe, and which now includes sensors,  encoders, calibration lasers, checking systems and CMM controllers. With the launch of its MODUS product, the company has the metrology software too.  It also claims an extensive experience in retrofitting probes and systems - both  to machine tools and CMMs and has significant applications expertise. Because it has all the various elements within its control,  Renishaw can offer what it  calls  “a one stop solution” to retrofitting.

Another reason for entering  the market  is the  development of competitor probes by OEMs, such as Hexagon,  and the continued development of non Renishaw systems by CMM manufacturers, such as Zeiss IMT. These are narrowing Renishaw’s route to market.  The UK retrofit market is estimated by Marc Saunders, general manager for Renishaw CMM Products Division, to be in the region of 100 machines a year. With Renishaw aiming to get more than half this market in the medium term, this provides major new revenue opportunities. The programme is being rolled out globally, starting with markets in Germany, Italy, Poland and the USA, which will make this a substantial business opportunity for its products and services 

But if nothing else, Renishaw is all about innovation, particularly in sensor technologies, and it is the desire to expand the uptake of its Revo 5-axis measurement technology which is really driving Renishaw’s retrofit  strategy. Retrofitting will deliver this  futuristic technology to all brands of CMMs, including Hexagon and Zeiss machines. High speed 5-axis Revo scanning works well even on older, heavier CMM frames. Retrofitting offers a cost effective and low risk transition to what is a sophisticated and state-of-the-art technology, allowing high speed scanning and measurement of complex components, such as blades, blisks and cylinders.

The award-winning REVO 5-axis measuring system offers unprecedented measurement speeds, reduced calibration time, and flexible access to features unmatched by indexing or fixed probing systems, REVO allows CMM users to measure feature form whilst also increasing measurement throughput and reducing operator intervention.  With programmable stylus and sensor changing, REVO users can automate even the most complex measurement task.  Furthermore, future REVO sensors, the first of which will enable surface finish measurement on a CMM (available later in 2009), will allow existing quality assurance tasks that are manually intensive to be integrated into a CNC inspection process for the first time.

In addition to REVO, retrofit customers can also select from Renishaw’s extensive range of touch-trigger and scanning sensors, mounted to the industry-standard PH10 indexing head.  With automation features such as stylus and sensor changing, these provide powerful capabilities suitable for many measurement applications. 

With a common controller and software platform, customers who choose these sensors have a cost-effective route to upgrade to 5-axis measurement as their needs change.
Renishaw’s UCC2 universal CMM controller is at the heart of the Renishaw CMM retrofit.  Combined with a Renishaw servo power amplifier, it enables precision control of up to five axes of simultaneous motion on machines of all sizes.  It also provides a single-box interface to all Renishaw sensors and can gather surface data at up to 4,000 points per second.  Sophisticated machine error mapping is provided in an open format, allowing users to perform their own recalibration, whilst temperature compensation is also available.  Crucially, the UCC2 also complies with the I++ DME standard, giving users the freedom to use any metrology software that features an I++ client.

One such software is Renishaw’s new MODUS package.  With full support for its entire range of sensors, including the REVO, MODUS provides a powerful platform for 5-axis measurement.  Key features include CAD-driven offline programming with full simulation and collision detection of 5-axis moves; native DMIS support; certified mathematical algorithms; powerful text and graphical reporting; and flexible output of results data.  Based on the  Metris Camio metrology software, MODUS has been developed by a newly-recruited team of engineers and will be enhanced to support all future innovations in Renishaw’s controller and sensor technologies

A professional approach
“Renishaw believes that CMM retrofit customers have the right to expect the same level of professionalism and quality from a CMM upgrade as they get when they buy a new CMM,” declared Brian Gow, marketing manager for Renishaw’s CMM Products Division.  He continued, “We have put in place a rigorous machine survey to assess the mechanical and electrical components of each CMM, and we commit to a level of system performance so the customer knows what he is going to get before we start.  With hundreds of UCC (Renishaw controller) retrofits behind us, we have built up a comprehensive knowledge base of CMM installations, so we can provide a ‘plug and play’ installation of our controller.  Finally, our UKAS certification gives customers confidence in the accuracy of their upgraded machine.  It’s all about managing the details to provide the level of service that Renishaw customers have come to expect.”

Investments in staff and facilities
To meet the installation and support needs of its CMM retrofit customers, Renishaw has been investing in new staff and facilities.  This includes the recent acquisition of Qualis Service GmbH, a CMM service firm with field service engineers located throughout Germany.  Sales and applications staff have also been recruited in the USA and throughout Europe.

Renishaw has also established a manufacturing cell in its facility at Woodchester, Gloucestershire, UK, that is dedicated to the assembly and testing of retrofit kits. This approach to retrofitting minimises the amount of time on site as the system is pre-tested and ‘plug and play’ by the time it reaches the customer. This facility is being replicated in major Renishaw subsidiary facilities around the world.
“The introduction of our new MODUS software and our investments in new staff and facilities around the world shows how seriously we are taking our entry into the CMM retrofit business,” commented Ben Taylor, assistant chief executive at Renishaw.  He continued, “We can now offer customers of all brands of CMM – including Hexagon and Zeiss – a complete solution that features leading-edge technology in every aspect, backed up by the security of service and support direct from Renishaw.  What’s more, our retrofit customers will benefit from immediate access to our future innovations in measurement technology.”

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