Five ways horizontal arm CMMs help drive productivity

Horizontal arm coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are traditionally associated with use in the field of automotive body-in-white, but their numerous unique advantages mean they are widely used across aerospace, railway industries, and a variety of sectors where other measurement solutions can struggle to compete.

What makes this class of machine so different? Here are five ways horizontal arm CMMs can help drive productivity in manufacturing.

  1. Mobility. Unlike some gantry CMMs, horizontal arm machines with an integral plate don’t require specialist foundation systems. This makes installation quicker and less expensive, and relocation comparatively easy. This mobility is fantastic for the automotive industry, where horizontal arm CMMs are installed in a number of departments to meet the different dimensional data requirements throughout the product lifecycle.
  2. Reliability. Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence’s horizontal arm CMMs ensure maximum accuracy even in environments with sudden temperature changes because of their inbuilt sophisticated technologies. They operate efficiently under the same environment conditions as the production process, so you won’t need to make any adaptions to your workshop.
  3. Ease of Access. The ability to measure large parts on a bridge CMM is limited by the size of the measurement volume, and the structure of the machine itself can reduce part accessibility. In contrast, the ease of access that horizontal arm machines provide makes them ideal for measuring very long or tall workpieces. Loading and unloading is made much easier as the open structure gives you direct access to the workpiece.
  4. Configurability. Horizontal arm CMMs are extremely modular and easy to configure. The machine’s flexibility enables you to inspect several components within a single measurement cycle. They also offer several configuration types to suit a range of factory setups. Some have integrated worktables, while others use a remote worktable or a movable fixture. Dual-arm configurations are also available, doubling the inspection area and potential inspection speed. It is possible to configure a machine with as many as eight arms in total. Horizontal arm CMMs are available as runway, top-mounted, or console models. You can also equip horizontal arm CMMs with fixed or indexable measurement heads and continuous wrists, allowing fast and accurate measurement, even in hard-to-reach places such as underneath a car chassis and inside an assembled car body. The two arms can be equipped with touch-trigger probes as well as laser scanners. The option for tactile and laser scanning makes the inspection process within the production line quicker and more efficient.
  5. Efficiency. Manufacturers use horizontal arm CMMs to optimise the process, increase data production and reduce the measurement time required in the prototype construction and dimensional validation phases of vehicle development. The machine’s automated capabilities can allow you to use your time valuably away from the CMM and can potentially allow for round the clock operations.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division’s horizontal arm CMMs are driving manufacturing productivity at the world’s biggest car makers. For example, at Volvo’s plant in Gent, Belgium the DEA BRAVO HP helped drive productivity by making the inspection of welded stud positions in C-shop parts nine times quicker, reducing a three hour procedure to just 20 minutes. Click the download button to the right to read the Volvo case study and click here to see our full range of horizontal arm CMMs.

Horizontal Arm CMMs


  • Paolo De Bortoli

    Paolo De Bortoli is the Sheet Metal Product Line Manager at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, responsible for the technical development and introduction of sheet metal solutions to the market globally. Paolo began his Hexagon career in 1996 as a Junior Buyer. From 2000 to 2014 he worked in the CO emerging markets, developing experience in international business, before taking the lead of the Sheet Metal Product Line.

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