For decades North America was home to the most productive factories in the world, but globalization threatened to change this. Suddenly, factories around the continent had to compete against countries with cheaper labour costs and fewer regulations. The future of North America’s industrial sector was uncertain.
One key to helping North America’s manufacturing industry adapt was increasing automation on the production line. The coordinate measuring machine (CMM) has been one of the vital tools in helping bring automation to factories around the continent. Here are just some of the ways that CMM machines have helped manufacturing in North America compete against global rivals.
Key in Quality Control
CMM machines are designed to automate quality control on the production line. CMM machines measure the physical geometrical characteristics of a part or object. They may either be manually controlled by a human operator, or they can be controlled by computer. A probe attached to the third moving axis of the CMM machine measures the part or object.
After scanning, it compares these measurements against the blueprint of the piece, which has already been previously uploaded into the CMM machine. If it detects any difference between the part and the blueprint, the machine knows the part contains a flaw.
These machines perform the role of quality control faster and with more accuracy than a human can, and this has been a fundamental part of how CMM machines have helped North American manufacturing be competitive once again. They are complex machines, so stop by for more info so you can learn about the other tasks they perform and the variety of models available.
Even innovative technology must constantly evolve, or risk becoming obsolete. The same advances that helped North America’s manufacturing industry adapt to global change are making important steps in its own evolution.
Known under the broad umbrella term Industry 4.0, new technology is enabling machines to exchange data with other machines. Essentially, machines can talk to other machines. While this is in the early stages, it already has important implications for automation.
For example, CMM machines now have software in it such as PolyWorks, which enables machines to communicate to each other in the following way. If a CMM machine with PolyWorks in it detects a flaw in a part caused by machine wear and tear, it can alert another machine further up in the production line. This identifies the problem quickly and accurately and spares a human employee from needing to waste time assessing what went wrong. This also mitigates the cost of equipment malfunction. CMM machines and the software inside them will surely continue to evolve and become even more impressive.
The narrative about North America’s industrial sector fighting back against the forces of globalization is a success story, but it’s also still in flux — everyday, the story continues as economic conditions change and evolve. CMM machines have already made major contributions in helping North American manufacturing, and will likely be an integral part of factories here well into the future.