Traditionally, cordinate measuring machines have generally been designed and manufactured in sophisticated manufacturing economies of the West and Japan. We are now seeing the emergence of 3D measurement systems from Asia - as you might expect. Not content with the lower end hand tool instruments, Asian manufacturers are moving up the food chain with more sophisticated and higher value product. So its no surprise to see, for the first time, a number of Chinese companies exhibiting their own brand 3D coordinate measuring machines at this year’s Control Exhibition, held in Germany last May. Some of the CMMs seem somewhat familiar in design, but they come with all the software and systems to offer fully functional measuring systems. So does this mean hard times ahead for the Western manufacturers? Not necessarily. Most measuring instrument manufacturers already operate on a global basis, both in terms of manufacturing supply and of markets. Most have component and system manufacturing capability , or plan to invest, in the lower cost countries of Asia and elsewhere, and so benefit from lower cost manufacturing. Secondly, the emerging markets of Asia are major markets in their own right, consuming ever increasing output for their own manufacturing base. But perhaps more critical to marketing success and the ability to penetrate western markets is the necessity to establish in-depth customer relationship. It is not enough to offer a black box with a low price tag and leave the customer to unpack it and get on with applying the technology. Users increasingly rely on CMM supplier for a whole range of project management, support and aftermarket activities - the physical machine is just one component. Its a long term, whole life cycle relationship which is the key to market success.This all takes time to develop.
Brendan Coyne - Editor