QMT Features: March 2011
Agile metrology
Small, agile metrology companies, such as Measurement Solutions,  are carving a place for themselves in the world of metrology with innovative technology and customer focussed solutions.

The metrology industry has seen incredible changes over recent years, both in terms of the supplier base and the latest technology products available. The economic crisis has seen suppliers fall by the wayside, with many others being swallowed up by large groups in a determined attempt to rule the metrology world.

“But big is not always best, “claims Iain Caville, managing director of Measurement Solutions. Based in Peterborough, the company is one that is definitely bucking the trend, proving that small, agile organisations are well placed to react quickly to new market developments.

 Formed in 1998, Measurement Solutions has focused on specialising its expertise in the fields of 3D measurement and laser scanning. “A distinct shift in the past 12-18 months,” says Iain Caville “has seen manufacturing industries demanding the need for portable measuring equipment for shop-floor applications, instead of the conventional fixed, floor-standing systems often found in measuring rooms. With customers less willing to take parts to a coordinate measuring machine, CMM, we, at Measurement Solutions, have formed partnerships with leading technology developers to introduce portable devices to the UK that enable accurate and reliable measurement at the coal face”.  

Portable CMM and laser scanner
The latest system to be unveiled by to be unveiled by Measurement Solutions is the new MetraSCAN. “This system closes the gap that has, until now, existed between 3D measurement and 3D laser scanning.” explains Iain Caville. “MetraSCAN is manufactured by Canada’s Creaform, a highly innovative developer of laser scanning solutions, and offers users the only affordable solution that fully combines a portable CMM with a hand-held laser scanner.” 

The system has the ability to measure all sizes of objects, from bench-top to upwards of 8m in length, with patented TRUaccuracy technology built into the system. “TRUaccuracy technology ensures full system accuracy is achieved in any conditions, unlike conventional equipment that requires stable environments and experienced users.” says Iain. “A high accuracy dynamic referencing system also means the measured part can move during measurement, making the system ideal for applications such as press-shops. The system provides the ability to quickly and easily extend the measuring volume without the need for complicated and time-consuming leap-frog manoeuvres, to make certain accuracy is maintained throughout the full measuring volume. 

Measurement can be taken using the hand-held HandyPROBE probing device, which acts like a conventional measuring arm. However, being completely arm-free and wireless, the user can measure the part without any of the limitations normally associated with an arm. Interchangeable probe tips can be exchanged in seconds without the need to recalibrate, and these can include straight, extended length or angled probes, enabling the complete part to be measured with no restrictions. Alternatively, the hand-held MetraSCAN 3D laser scanner can be used to quickly scan the surface and collect high resolution scan data for free-form analysis.

The scanner works on most surfaces, including the laser scanner’s arch enemies, shiny and black surfaces! “We feel that this combination of portable CMM probing and laser scanning provide s the user with an unbeatable 3D measuring solution that has no bound.” claims Iain Caville. The system is fully integrated into leading metrology packages such as Metrolog XG CMM software, providing the user the freedom to select the best combination of measuring hardware and software to suit specific needs.

Successful projects
 While products form the foundation of any successful business, the highly-experienced team of engineers at Measurement Solutions is given much of the credit by Iain Caville. The company is regularly awarded the accolade of best European Reseller by its partners, and despite a global recession, Measurement Solutions has seen year-on-year sales increases, with 2010 being the best company performance to date. This has been achieved through a series of successful projects at some of the UK’s largest manufacturing organisations.

One of the latest projects saw the company tasked with retrofitting Metrolog XG CMM software to every CMM at the Halewood plant of Jaguar Land Rover. “The customer now has around 30 licences of software, including off-line seats of Silma XG that enable inspection programs to be created and tested before the vehicle parts have even been manufactured.” says Iain.  “Despite competition from the metrology industry’s biggest players, Measurement Solutions was able to provide a solution specifically adapted to the customer’s requirements, including training courses tailored to the users’ skill levels and application needs.” He adds that many obstacles needed to be overcome throughout the project, not least the need to fully integrate the software onto existing Zeiss CMM’s of varying types and ages. The customer now uses the software on a range of CMM’s, laser trackers, portable arms and laser scanning devices.

A strategic key for the future is the ongoing development of relationships with leading movers and shakers within the metrology industry. For example, at the end of 2010, the company joined forces with COORD3 Industries of Italy, one of Europe’s premier CMM manufacturers, and with sales already in the bag in early 2011, this promises to be another successful partnership.

Large projects also continue to provide optimism for the future, with recent sales to the world’s largest UK-based defence contractor for installation of the Metrolog V5 measuring software for CATIA V5.   Marking the progress of Measurement Solutions was a move to a brand new facility in Peterborough at the end of 2010.  The new premises include a temperature-controlled demonstration facility housing the latest CMM and laser scanning technology, while a dedicated training area provides a relaxed environment for customers to learn best practice methods. “The success has also meant we are now actively looking to recruit additional personnel in sales and specialist product support.” says Iain. The future for Measurement Solutions looks extremely positive.l

See also this issue’s Recruitment section: Measurement Solutions are currently recruiting for sales engineers.

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