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By building on the power of real-time data visualization, innovations in smart quality measurement are enabling new insights that can benefit the manufacturing floor—and the bottom line.

Today’s manufacturers are under pressure to be more flexible, reduce downtime and costs and increase efficiencies. In addition to making new investments in production and technology, data-driven manufacturing companies are responding to these pressures by leveraging the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI), the industrial internet of things, (IIoT), cloud computing technologies and innovations in smart measurement and quality data management systems—resulting in greater visibility into their operations.

AI is already transforming manufacturing by outperforming humans in its ability to provide insights that inform timely, data-driven decisions and productivity improvements. In some operations, AI looks for conditions like idle equipment or scheduled maintenance in order to make decisions about reassigning parts measurement. AI can also leverage inspection results for decisions about pulling parts from the production line.

By 2035, AI-powered technologies could increase labor productivity by up to 40% across 16 industries, including manufacturing.

IIoT devices feature powerful sensors that can collect real-time, second-by-second production data on the shop floor for use in developing valuable insights for improving the efficiency of operations.

Manufacturers are already using IIoT technology to help them massively reduce machine downtime and out-of-spec end products. They can also be used to make automated machine tool adjustments when they are trending toward out of tolerance, confirming whether the piece should be pulled for production and sent for rework or to the scrap bin.

Looking to the future, manufacturing promises to be a much more cloud-based reality so that facilities with multiple locations will be better able to leverage networked data storage, management and off-site analysis.

Because it enables optimizations at every step of  the production process, quality measurement is critical for operations in the smart factory. Now, all equipment in the plant is connected to the internet, collecting a diverse range of data that can be put to use on the production floor. As a result, new smart measuring systems can now provide real-time information to help factories achieve a new vision for quality assurance and transform their operations into agile, dynamic environments.

By building on the power of real-time data visualization, innovations in smart quality measurement are enabling new insights that can benefit the manufacturing floor—and the bottom line.

Smart Measuring Systems and the Power of Data Visualization

In the past, measurement equipment would fail with no warning or frequent error codes would lead to service calls and subsequent costly downtime. Understanding the strategic importance of the vast amounts of data available at all stages of the manufacturing lifecycle, manufacturers are now reaping the benefits of capturing that real-time data and converting it into actionable insights.

Real-time data visualization provides critical tools— such as role-based views, real-time alerts and notifications, and remote tracking and monitoring. Now, manufacturers are using these tools to help them keep equipment operating to its full potential and to schedule timely maintenance and minimize production disruption.

Intelligent measurement technology is one of the most important Industry 4.0 innovations for the smart factory. Today’s smart measurement systems (SMS) use industrial sensors and state-of-the-art network technology to conduct the measurement of components previously completed by conventional machines that could not learn and adapt to the situation or environment. SMS technology leverages the power of data visualization to enable new capabilities. Now, smart factory operators can remotely monitor the operational status of the machines and key parts being measured, use inspection data to reduce defective parts and enable preventive maintenance by monitoring the condition of the measurement machine.

By leveraging the vast amounts of data generated by IIoT, AI and other technologies, smart measuring systems can provide many of the key capabilities smart factories need. With the ability to monitor the status and current condition of measuring machines, and leverage the power of that data collection/analysis, smart factories can improve process efficiencies and ensure product quality.

The Future of Smart Measuring Systems

As the growing manufacturing skills gap continues to drive the need for automation, SMS will be a necessity for manufacturing operations of the future. Increasingly, SMS will make it possible for quality and design engineers, and production managers to monitor machines remotely—to identify potential issues in the measurement equipment or parts and to provide recommendations for preventative and predictive service or replacement of parts before they can disrupt production. In this way, SMS will contribute to the overall reduction of the total cost of quality control.

In fact, agile and dynamic measurement systems will become the new standard, providing the ability to shift measurement tools quickly and seamlessly from one part to another, as needed. There will also be an increased use of hybrid systems capable of conducting measurements of more than one type at the same time.

Cloud computing technology will continue to advance the efficiencies of manufacturing operations, especially those with multiple sites that produce the same part. They will be able to collaborate and share data in the cloud. And operators will be able to measure incoming parts from suppliers before incorporating them into their production processes. Those measurement reports will be stored and shared in the cloud with suppliers for them to track approvals of their parts into production processes.

All of these new capabilities will bring new benefits to the smart factory of tomorrow—including a reduction in quality control unpredictability and dependence on human intervention for monitoring machines and measurements. This will allow factory operators to free up factory staff to move up to higher-skilled, more critical tasks. As the smart factory becomes an ever more achievable goal, smart measurement systems will play ever more critical roles in ensuring manufacturer success.

Click here to read this white paper in its entirety.

Previously Featured in Quality Magazine.

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Headquartered in Aurora, IL, Mitutoyo America Corporation is the world's largest provider of measurement and inspection solutions offering the most complete selection of machines, sensors, systems and services with a line encompassing CMM (coordinate measuring machines), vision, form and finish measuring machines, as well as precision tools and instruments, and metrology data management software. Mitutoyo's nationwide network of Metrology Centers and support operations provides application, calibration, service, repair and educational programs to ensure that our 8,500+ metrology products will deliver measurement solutions for our customers throughout their lifetime.

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