Buying a coordinate measuring machine is a major capital outlay, so it makes sense to keep your measurement instruments operating for as long as possible. Because they don’t undergo the same strains as your machine tools, they can last for decades with regular maintenance, cleaning, and recalibration. Different parts have different life spans, though, and innovations in their probing systems and electronics in particular mean that it takes some effort and investment to keep older models up to today’s standards and requirements.
There are essentially two options for keeping your metrology equipment competitive: repair and retrofit, though they are not mutually exclusive. Retrofitting involves updating obsolete inspection methods like your computer system and software. Repairs simply keep the equipment running the same as it would have when it was first purchased, which often is not enough. When you’re trying to extend the lifespan of your inspection tools, talk to CMM manufacturers and repair experts about new mechanical accessories and software that will keep your Quality Assurance department competitive and efficient.
Repairing coordinate measuring machines involves replacing worn out components with OEM parts, for example, probing systems, arms, or computers systems. Before undertaking a repair job, contact the OEM to find out about the availability of spare parts. They may be reluctant with their information as manufacturers earn considerably more money from new purchases. Also, replacement parts can be harder to find if you purchased your coordinate measuring machine used, as OEMs only make them available for about ten years, a third or less of a quality measurement instrument’s life cycle. Along with repairs, vendors along the lines of Canadian Measurement-Metrology Inc. (or CMM) also provide calibration and regular maintenance services that keep your instruments accurate.
By adding state-of-the-art controls, a retrofit can lower your inspection costs and increase your inspection speeds, reducing your bottlenecks. If your coordinate measuring machine has been gathering dust, or simply gone underutilized, while you outsource your more complicated inspection needs, a retrofit can help you bring more of your tasks in house to keep costs down. Some of the more popular retrofits include new probing systems, new computer systems and software, and converting from manual to automatic control.
Moving from a system that measures individual, discrete points to a scanning system can save you hours of time. Newer touch trigger probe heads reduce the time you have to spend changing probe head positions thanks to 5-axis positioning. Scanning probes reduce data analysis times and speed up your inspection process. In order to keep up with faster data collection and analysis, you will have to upgrade your software. Most of CMM’s customers go with PC-DMIS, the software with the widest interfacing capability across controllers. The right PC-DMIS platform can make it easier for your operators to measure complicated parts like gears and blades without extensive training. New software brings CAD capability to your old coordinate measuring machine, bringing design, production, and inspection closer together. In order to stay competitive in global manufacturing, dust off your old coordinate measuring machine and start your research on retrofits today.