QMT Features: July 2011
A measured success
With the launch of Hexagon 2011, Hexagon showcased its global technology with an international conference on its products and services in Orlando, Florida  6th -9th  June

Actionable intelligence was the theme of Hexagon’s international conference, Hexagon 2011,  held in Orlando, Florida at the Marriott World  Center Marriott Resort on 7-9th June. Over 2,500 delegates attended multi-stream presentations, workshops and networking events.

Within the overall structure, dominated by the Hexagon geospatial companies,  Intergraph and ERDAS,  was a metrology conference, entitled Metrology@hexagon 2011. Here, again, the theme was actionable intelligence - the intelligence being that of metrology. Delegates heard presentation from a range of global manufacturing companies  - Northrup, Ford, VW, Fiat and Red Bull, to name a few. plus there were technology update classes and user groups for Hexagon Metrology customers and delegates.

Norbert Hanke, president and CEO of Hexagon Metrology said, “This is the first time we have run a Metrology conference (within the well established Intergraph event) and it’s a great opportunity for us to present what Hexagon Metrology is about. What we are also particularly looking for is  networking.”

Some speaker highlights
Chris Charnley quality manager for Red Bull  Technology, the winning F1 racing car company, described the time compression environment in which his measurement team operates. With the support of a technical partnership with Hexagon Metrology, the pressure is on Chris and his team to get measurement results out quickly and accurately  - winning depends upon it.   The company designs, manufactures, builds and tests the F1 racing cars at Milton Keynes in the UK. Everything is aimed at reducing lap times of the cars. “We have to be innovative. We have to be methodical. We have to see what  changes a particular component has made when we when we fit  it into the car and we have to know whether a car has improved - or it hasn’t. You have to know your base line. on any particular component on the car, “  said Chris Charnley. “But its not all about hard work - its fun as well.”

Dr Gert Goch of the Bremen Institute for Metrology, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ) from Bremen, Germany,  outlined the measurement challenges that wind energy presented. Forecasts for the growth of  the supply of renewable energy worldwide  was predicted to be 25%  of the total  by 2020, up  from  a figure of 8%  today. 

This, Dr Goch said, can only  be realised by wind energy systems (WES), namely, off shore systems., such as those in the North Sea. But since they are hard to  reach, they require high reliability of performance and least possible maintenance. However, current mean-time-between-failure of a critical component is less than half the actual  WES lifetime of 20 years. As some of these components are seriously large and/or heavy, this could be a major problem. for example, the largest wind rotor blade  is 63 metres and projected to be nearly double that  for the coming generation of systems. The blades will be so large that they will have to be transported  in segments. 

Gearboxes, too, will have large dimension gears, with diameters in excess of 500mm, generating big manufacturing metrology challenges to  accurately inspect them.  The metrology throughput to manufacture these large components is not a trivial one as the quantities of WES required to meet the projected target  are huge - in the USA alone, 20,000 WES units are required to be installed in the next ten years, similarly for Europe.

Kevin Paradis of the Ford Motor Company in the USA. outlined how Ford uses metrology in their sheet metal operations. “Every day at Ford Motor Company, we take thousands of components from hundreds of suppliers, and build up assembled vehicles.” said Kevin. “ How we put the sheet metal together and manage the variability of the process, we call “Dimensional Control. What we have developed over the years is a web-based data management system. All of the data from our coordinate measuring machines, vision systems and laser trackers, flows into our database, as  does data from our external suppliers. Our engines are able to access that data through that database over our web to create reports. Our engineers work primarily with statistical data, always trying to look at that (measurement) data in the context of the history of that data point. 

All the intelligence is done at the planning stage. In the pre-production and launch phase, we gain alot of understanding  of our build process and then go into a monitor mode to reduce the number of (dimensional inspection) points” Through such intelligent metrology strategy, Ford have reduced the number of dimensional inspection points required at the mass production stage from 8,000 to 400. l

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