Retelling the Story of Manufacturing

Metrology holds a clue to how the story of manufacturing can be retold along bold new lines, says Ola Rollén, president and CEO of Hexagon. In his keynote address at the recent HxGN Live event, he made the point that, in manufacturing, dimensional measurement data have to be part of the total process narrative—from beginning to end.

Metrology holds a clue to how the story of manufacturing can be retold along bold new lines, says Ola Rollén, president and CEO of Hexagon. In his keynote address at the recent HxGN Live event, he made the point that, in manufacturing, dimensional measurement data have to be part of the total process narrative—from beginning to end.

In manufacturing, the single source of truth is metrology, he said. That’s because the only way to verify that a manufacturing process is producing parts that meet specifications is to measure the parts. Good parts get shipped. Bad parts get scrapped. And that, he said, is how most manufacturing stories end. He insisted that this has to change. This kind of story is incomplete.

The new, complete narrative for manufacturing processes must include a feedback loop in which measurement data, the “truth” about manufactured parts, flows back to the design model in CAD, to the simulation and optimization results from CAE (computer-aided engineering) and to the plan and control decisions made in CAM. The new storyline in manufacturing must be about self-improving, auto-correcting systems. “We have to leverage the lessons learned from metrology. It has to tell us what to do and what to avoid— at every step along the way,” he said, noting that the gaps that now exist can be bridged by metrology data.

This data is the missing link in the story of how most products, from gears and bone screws to automobiles and airplanes, are manufactured. For example, metrology data can and should be used to adjust or refine CNC programs in CAM software to update files being executed on the shop floor—seamlessly and automatically.

Mr. Rollén explained that manufacturers have been missing this link because the connections needed to close the loop have not existed before or were not fully utilized. All this has changed as the Industrial Internet of Things has emerged. In this context, metrology can bring new levels of automation, conductivity and intelligence to the manufacturing story. These three elements are the key enablers that make the new narrative possible.

He concluded this part of his keynote by focusing on the worldwide automotive industry and how it is being reshaped. You can find his keynote address here. (Suggestion: fast forward to 0:13:00 to jump to remarks most pertinent to manufacturers.)

Other events, presentations and product demos during Hxgn Live fleshed out how Hexagon is positioned to provide these solutions to manufacturers through Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, one of Hexagon’s primary businesses. Significantly, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence is a 2015 rebranding of Hexagon Metrology. This change reflects how this business has moved beyond its core competence in dimensional metrology to include statistical process control and CAD/CAM software.