Industry 4.0 and Big Data are innovation motors in measurement and test technology, but also receive in return decisive impulses from this field. The Quality Area puts the focus on the interaction of measurement technology and production and points to ways in which firms can train their staff for these tasks.
The trend is unmistakable – measurement and test technology is leaving its protected area, exiting the measurement or test room and going straight to production. The aim is to raise productivity and shorten cycle times. The things that must not be lost along this path are accuracy, processing quality and tight production tolerances. How one can follow this path is shown at the Quality Area at the Metav. "Measurement and testing technology is the core of the quality seal ‘Made in Germany’," as Markus Heseding, CEO of the VDMA specialist group Measurement and Test Technology, underlines. The specialist group represents 160 manufacturers and is a partner of the Quality Area at the Metav 2016.
Innovation motor material technology
Measurement and test technology is receiving further impulses from new materials. For example: turbine blades in titanium aluminide in aircraft construction. The blades are only half the weight and nevertheless extremely resilient. Insights into how this working material could be successfully processed at all in series production were gained by atom probes and high-resolution transmission electron microscopes – high-tech from measurement technology.
Increasing automation and networking in production have also initiated innovations in measurement technology. Using sophisticated measurement and test technology, quality checks are documented from start to finish. The resulting millions of data-bytes are being transferred ever faster and more precisely to higher-level systems. These, in turn, are the basis of modern process automation. Measurement and test technology thus plays a key role in the intelligent factory in Industry 4.0.
Quality management takes off
with Industry 4.0
For Prof. Robert Schmitt, head of the department of Production Measurement Technology and Quality Management at the machine-tool laboratory of the RWTH Aachen, quality management will take off with Industry 4.0: "With the fundamental changes arising with Industry 4.0, more data will be generated and will have to be coordinated: the game becomes faster. If quality management has until now been based on carefully established causal chains, tomorrow it is probable that the correlation of numerous and apparently unconnected factors will lead to faster QA measures. Industry 4.0 will accelerate quality management, whatever happens."
It is therefore clear that measurement and test technology is not only closely linked with Industry 4.0 but also with another topic which is currently much in discussion: Big Data. There is nothing new about data arising from measurement, but intelligent sensorics, real-time-capable signal processing and high-performance data processing enable new ways of dealing with the data flood.
How is the rising data flood to be mastered? For measurement technology manufacturers, this question leads to new tasks and business areas. "With our products, customers collect much individual data during and after processing and can draw conclusions about the status of production from them," explains Rainer Lotz, CEO of the Renishaw GmbH in Pliezhausen. "This enables preventive maintenance in order to avoid, for example, a standstill. Waste, too, can be reduced drastically by detailed control of the process. In addition, users in the automobile or component supply industries store measurement data of, for example, a cylinder head along with other data on the working material, production process, production conditions and much else. All information connected with this cylinder head is therefore available in one database," he continues. "The field of measurement software and its integration into the customer’s production systems is becoming increasingly important," Lotz emphasises.
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