All posts by opadmin

The digitization of manufacturing and the Internet of Things – is metrology ready for the next industrial revolution?

The digitization of manufacturing is seen to herald a new industrial age, industry 4.0. A manufacturing phase of unparalleled connectivity and digitisation, industry 4.0 was actually devised as a strategic initiative by the German Government in 2011. Since then, the term has come to define what is seen as a global shift in manufacturing practices. The German Government’s 10 – 15 year industrial plan aimed ‘to drive digital manufacturing forward by increasing digitisation and the interconnection of products, value chains and business models.’ (Europa EU, 2017) Now a global movement, its implications for the metrology market cannot be ignored.

Are we already seeing an impact in the metrology sector?

Over the past twelve months alone Optimax IIM Ltd. have seen automated metrology solutions dominate sales with a 30% growth in demand. Through the adoption of automated or semi-automated metrology devices, ‘companies can benefit from higher repeatability in their inspection process, increased inspection frequencies, and faster response back into the process through a variety of techniques, including direct machine tool feedback.’ (Everling, 2014) Precision pressing company Brandauer, recently purchased from Optimax, the automated L2 Starrett Force Measurement device for measurement of their propriety EloPin press-fit solution. The size of the EloPin (less than 1 mm in diameter) and the need for pin-hole alignment during insertion, necessitated an automated measurement solution. Fully programmable and intuitive to use, the L2 software supports Brandauer’s efforts to optimise their production processes by allowing use by shop-floor staff without training.

Are contemporary metrology devices equipped for Industry 4.0?

It is widely thought that it is in the potential for complete connectivity where the greatest benefits of digitisation can be found. In industry 4.0 all areas of the manufacturing process could exist on the same network – forming an Internet of Things (IoT). This could place quality control at the centre of the production process, ensuing the production of good parts. Bruker Alicona explain that in Smart Manufacturing:

‘Product systems, machines and measurement technology form a closed loop in constant communication…if the measuring sensor detects that the component is faulty, this information is fed into the production circuit, which adapts accordingly.’ – Bruker Alicona.

Overcoming the existing disconnect between devices remains a competitive frontier for innovation in metrology, with the sector as a whole yet to fully realise the connectivity of the Internet of Things. Striving towards Smart Manufacturing, Bruker Alicona devices can be flexibly integrated, while their high-resolution optical measurement sensors create a digitized system. This is all linked using an intelligent interface technology. Rather than a separate offline, measuring room, as is relied upon in so many manufacturing plants. These innovations move quality assurance to the centre of production. Complex measurements are executed quickly and efficiently.

Is the shift to Industry 4.0 the end for manual metrology?

Manual metrology devices still sit comfortably in the reliable and repeatable processes of many of Optimax’s clients. It is not just about familiarity – manual devices often offer a lower initial investment, often with less time and resource needed during the initial training phase. They can be more robust and less susceptible to operator damage, with fewer moving mechanical parts to damage.

So while the shift to the fourth industrial age is undeniable, it’s a steady process that’s unlikely to completely replace the metrology equipment of the third industrial era, and makes continued investment at all levels of device complexity essential.


Europa EU. January 2017: Germany: Industrie 4.0, Digital Transformation Monitor. Everling, Scott. November 2014: Automating metrology, Aerospace Manufacturing and Design.

Sure, get excited about the DRV-Z1’s futuristic 3D tech, but the ROI is in the ergonomics

The DRV-Z1, recently released by Vision Engineering, demonstrates the transformative impact 3D technology can have on manufacturing. However, it is in its ergonomic design where the greatest return on investment will be seen.

Ergonomics is as inescapable a corporate buzz term as wellbeing or mindfulness – and they are all, in many ways, features of the same realisation. The more comfortable, happy and healthy your staff, the better their output and the higher your yield quality. Remember hunching over and straining your eyes through microscopes at school? The same features are seen on many legacy metrology and inspection devices, resulting in fatigue, absenteeism and long term occupational health issues. It’s these limitations that Vision Engineering have overcome by putting user-ergonomics at the heart of DRV-Z1’s innovative design.

‘Designing in comfort and freedom of movement to enhance operational efficiency and promote accuracy’ – Vision Engineering

Vision Engineering DRV-Z1 machine

Research into the positive impact of ergonomic investment for manufacturers has demonstrated dramatic results. Studying the affect of ergonomic improvements to circuit board manufacturing, Burri and Helander concluded that absenteeism decreased from ‘5 to 3 percent’, injury rates reduced and both yield and productivity was improved. They calculated that this led to a staggering ‘$1.7 million [approx. £1.3 million] saving for modification [ergonomic intervention] costs of $16,000 [ £12,555].’ (Vol 7: Issue 3)

Inspired by such research, Vision Engineering have introduced several ergonomic innovations with the DRV-Z1. The device is eyepieceless, allowing freedom of head movement to reduce back and neck strain and enabling you to keep your glasses on. The DRV-Z1 surpasses the VR headset in meeting the demands of manufacturers, with its natural view supporting precise hand-to-eye coordination. This is critical for reducing error rates in precision inspection and manipulation tasks, such as; rework, repair and dissection. Furthermore, as the user is not detached from the outside world, peripheral vision is maintained and the nausea felt with the VR headset is eliminated.

As we increasingly recognise the importance of team wellbeing in the role of productivity, it’s essential that our equipment does the same. Great work, Vision Engineering.

For more information on how the DRV-Z1 can meet your applications drop me a message or give us a call at 01858 436940.

Transformative 3D technology – stepping beyond VR

3D technology was characteristic of our vision of ‘the future’ far before it was a manufacturable reality. Such an essential element of the sci-fi landscape, when we were first presented with the VR headset it all felt rather familiar.

Yet its applications were broader than we could have predicted and with the release of Vision Engineering’s futuristic TriTeq3 technology, it’s clear that innovation in 3D technology is by no means slowing down.

The impact of 3D technology has been far reaching and not just, as is often thought, as a B2C product. VR headsets are now commonplace in production processes. In the automotive industry they’re used in design decisions for car fit out, and for the complete testing of new production areas. TriTeq3 fully realises the transformative implication of 3D technology for inspection. By providing each eye with separate information, the technology gives,

‘A natural 3D view, with full high definition (FHD) resolution and excellent subject clarity’. (Vision Engineering)

With this improved visibility for surface conditions, scratches, dings, finish, edge condition and roughness, a higher level of quality assurance is made possible. Real depth perception also supports the use of tools in detailed tasks such as soldering and reworking. 

TriTeq3 also marks a transformation in user experience of 3D technology. Unlike VR, a head mounted display is not required – making everything much easier for us specs wearers. Productivity is improved as a user is not isolated from the outside world, you can refer to notes, interact with colleagues and will not experience motion sickness or eye-strain. TriTeq3 therefore also offers an attractive option for users of computer aided design. 

So where do we go from here? The potential for sharing these high resolution 3D images gives 3D technology a new feature – global collaboration. Soon we could have an engineer in Hong Kong sharing the exact high resolution, 3D image they are working on with a colleague in London. The implications of this for the medical industry can seem even more ‘sci-fi’ – a specialist could inspect a detailed 3D image of a CT or MRI scan and advise on a diagnosis as if in the same room. 

Whatever the next step, it is clear that the impact of 3D technology is only just being felt – where do you think it will take us next? 

This article forms part of Optimax’s Thought Leadership Series – sharing our expertise as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of optical inspection and measurement equipment. If you have any questions about our products or are looking for tailored advice, please drop me a message or give us a call at 01858 436940.

Metrology Musings: The mystery surrounding the calibration of non-contact measuring systems

The mystery surrounding the calibration of non-contact measuring systems

Most 1st, 2nd and even 3rd tier suppliers into the automotive and aerospace world, require some form of traceability from their measurement equipment and calibration suppliers.

Normally, this is in the form of accreditation to one of the UKAS laboratory standards.  Most measurement technologies are now fairly mature, in terms of their development cycle and the principles for checking, verification and calibration are well understood.  Indeed for most, an international standard now exists, removing the subjectivity in the process of calibration and setting out a unified, standardised procedure for all to follow and become accredited to.

Optical, video and laser metrology systems, broadly defined as non-contact metrology, have been rather later to the party and their development cycle is still very progressive. Equally the understanding about how these systems should be checked, verified and most importantly corrected, is not as widely understood by their users.

Over the next few months we are going to publish a series of short articles, giving an outline of current best practices.  We will attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding the calibration of non-contact measuring systems and get an understanding of the influencing factors which contribute to the uncertainty budgets.

I will leave you with a quick thought for now.  If you own a contact coordinate measuring system “CMM”, there are a number of very well qualified engineers and calibration laboratories able to deliver the ISO10360 -2 standard at a reasonable cost.  This is a well understood standard, by both deliverers and also customers.

I stand to be corrected of course, but currently there are no UKAS laboratories accredited to the ISO10360-7 and 8 standard, in the UK.  This is the standard required for UKAS certification of non-contact metrology probes, with any form of field of view measurement capability.  So for now, even the most diligent and compliant of manufacturers and suppliers, cannot currently acquire or issue a UKAS calibration certificate for their NCM instruments……………….

Pete Clements

For more information on the standard: