Those in the manufacturing industry completely understand that the ability to obtain accurate measurements is directly tied to product quality and customer satisfaction.
The reality is that the measurement devices you choose can significantly impact your manufacturing success — and that’s why it’s so important to choose Hexagon’s manufacturing intelligence division of solutions that deliver decades of expertise to ensure your journey to manufacturing success is met.
Let’s take a closer look at one of those solutions, the Hexagon Absolute Arm, its history, its performance in the field, and how it can help ensure parts meet specifications while reducing inspection bottlenecks.
A brief history of the Hexagon Absolute Arm
Before we delve into the history of the Hexagon Absolute Arm, let’s first explore exactly what an articulated arm is and how it has forever revolutionized the manufacturing industry.
In the past, performing measurements meant that an employee needed to bring the specific part to the static measuring machine — something that may be fine for a small widget but no easy feat for large, unwieldy or cumbersome parts. Not only did this waste motion and transportation, but it also created the opportunity for new damages or defects to occur.
Thankfully, about 50 years ago, inventor Homer Eaton had an idea — the ROMER arm, a bench-mounted articulating arm designed to measure tubes and pipes. Over the years, as computing advanced and became more compact, Eaton and his colleagues reimagined the arm as a portable device capable of capturing the geometry of all types of objects.
Hexagon acquired ROMER in 2004 and has since launched new models to meet measurement needs across industries, including aerospace and automotive. RA8, the company’s 8th generation ROMER Arm, features a modular architecture that allows it to carry a wide variety of sensors, including touch probes, laser scanners and tube probes.
Portable articulating measuring arms have been a game changer for manufacturers. “Having portable articulated measuring arms allow measurements to be made directly in the manufacturing environment, where process improvements are the most beneficial and most efficient,” said Brian Winters, North America Product Manager for Absolute Arms at Hexagon.
Why manufacturers require ruggedness and portability
Measurement doesn’t just take place in the factory; at times, it needs to occur in the field. That’s why manufacturers demand ruggedness and portability regarding their measurement tools. Hexagon’s Absolute Arm is made to be taken to the part for measurement, regardless of the environment. Lightweight and featuring hot-swappable batteries and wireless connectivity, the Absolute Arm is fully portable, performing equally well on forest or factory floors.
Hexagon’s Absolute Arm can handle even the harshest environments. It is the only IP54-rated articulated arm in the world able to withstand splashes, dust and other solid and liquid particles. “Over the last five years, we have seen more and more extreme environmental usage of arms, so the progression is a natural one to meet the market needs…we have arrived at the only sealed portable measuring arm in the world. That means you can take our portable hardware into just about any environment, turn it on and get to work,” Winters explained.
Even Hexagon is impressed by the numerous places and ways companies use its Absolute Arms. “NASCAR and Formula One teams take a smaller, more accurate arm and move it around the vehicle. One of our partners came up with a way to put ultrasonics on the end of the arm. And one of the more interesting tours we got earlier this year was having an Absolute Arm scan down in an area of a submarine hull still being put together, then sending the data out in real-time to a computer upstairs. As fast as he could move it, the data was there – it was impressive to see. In fact, when we walked up, it almost looked like the image in the brochure.” Winters shared.
How the Hexagon Absolute Arm improves efficiency, quality and productivity
One of the biggest manufacturing headaches occurs when bad parts make it to the product line. When components that don’t meet specifications aren’t flagged and removed, the results are lower productivity, higher costs, and lost customers. The Hexagon Absolute arm makes measurement easy, eliminating inspection bottlenecks to reduce overall inspection time and allow more parts to be reviewed.
Available in three models, three accuracy levels, and seven sizes, Hexagon’s Absolute Arms are modular, multifunctional tools capable of meeting measurement challenges across industries. With functionality including high-accuracy touch probing and fast and accurate 3D laser scanning, Hexagon offers Absolute Arms that meet a manufacturer’s specific metrology requirements.
Hexagon’s performance and versatility make it stand out from the competition in the market. The metrology hardware features a modular wrist that allows for hot-swapping, allowing work to continue without unnecessary downtime.
“Our most popular model is the AS1 Scanner,” Winters said. “The Absolute Scanner AS1 uses a set of optical algorithms known as SHINE (Systematic High-Intelligence Noise Elimination) technology, which empowers scanning on challenging materials such as chrome, shiny black or multi-color surfaces by filtering scan data outliers without compromising scanner performance and accuracy. It is fun to walk up and be able to scan almost anything in that level of detail and as fast as you want to go.”
Your measurements, your choice
Your measurement devices can make your work more accurate, efficient, and of higher quality — or they can introduce their own set of problems. Choosing a portable Hexagon Absolute Arm for your measurement needs sets up your organization for convenient, accurate measurements in virtually any environment.
Want to learn more about the Hexagon Absolute Arm? Check out SME.org’s Advanced Manufacturing Now podcast interview with Hexagon’s Brian Winters.