QMT Features: May 2008
Growth in their sights
Multisensor video systems is the future for advanced metrology applications.  LS Starrett has set up of a new subsidiary to target this area. By Brendan Coyne

Mark Arenal, general manager for Starrett Kinemetric Engineering Inc, headquartered in Laguna Hills, California, spoke to Quality Manufacturing Today at last month’s Control 2008 exhibition in Stuttgart where the company was exhibiting its latest range of optical and vision metrology products.

“Starrett Kinemetric Engineering is a newly created subsidiary of the LS Starrett company. Starrett has been in the comparator business for many years,” said Mark Arenal. “One of the strategic directions the company is taking is to create solutions for advanced metrology applications. Vision multisensor technology is the way forward for the future and so we have brought out a new line of products now on show here at Control 2008.

We’ve basically created this new division of the company to specialise in optical and vision metrology, to give it the focus it really needs. It’s one of the key interests of Doug Starrett, LS Starrett’s president and CEO, to help build a stronger metrology business for the company.

Our key strategic objectives for this year are to work with our distribution, to set up good distribution network and to make sure we are partnering effectively with them to do a good job. We are building our staff and our team, putting them in place so that they can do the job supporting our customers’ distribution - and giving them the products they need to take to the market.

What are these products? We’ve got everything, from a benchtop video microscope - which is a very basic video inspection system which can be upgraded to have measurement capability, image capturing and all the other capabilities you would expect. We’ve also got some entry-level video measuring systems, one of which the Galileo EZ, with a measuring range of 200 by 100mm in XY and 150mm in the Z axis (and a  300 by 300mm XY and 125mm Z axis version). Galileo EZ is CNC controlled utilising a Quadra-Chek 300 video display box which features simple edge detection. Also, introduced at the Control show is the AV 350. This is a larger platform machine based on our Galileo video system. It is a multisensor system employs a touch probe, laser and on-line video. With a measuring capacity of 350 by 350mm XY and a 200mm Z axis, the AV 350 is designed to measure a wide variety of components, anything from  flat parts  to three dimensional shapes. In addition to the video systems, we are showing two new projectors, redesigns of our  vertical VB600 and VB 400 optical comparators.”

For the future, Mark Arenal thinks that video measurement applications will continue to evolve at a steady pace. Trends will include more intuitive systems that require minimal measurement programming, systems with higher resolution field of view measuring capabilities and an increase in automated inspection solutions.
Increasingly, he say, users require inspection of more complex and/or smaller components. In addition, there is the need to remove operator error or subjectivity and to increase accuracy and throughput volume.

“I think the opportunities for growth are tremendous. Prior to this, we were only scratching the surface with our optical comparator products providing the bulk of our sales. Outside of the USA, our vision system sales were relatively minimal. Now, with proper introduction and support of the products through our distribution, we can become a bigger player in this market.

We’re kind of a mid-range company (in terms of the product and its market positioning). If you take a bell-shaped distribution curve, we’re right down the middle of that curve with a wide range of products that hit about 80% of the market.
We’re not trying to compete with the low cost products and we’re not necessarily going to be up there with the most expensive products either.

 One other thing we bring to this market is the ability to produce specials, dedicated to particular applications. Our company is a solutions provider. Our key is to provide solutions to our customers, not necessarily solely with our products but looking, first and foremost, at the particular requirements of the customer and tailoring the solution to that application. This is a core part of our business. If the standard machine doesn’t quite address the customer application, we have the ability to address that application on a special basis.” l
e-mail: MArenal@kinemetric.com


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