What was the driving idea behind this collection of updates to the Absolute Arm range?
In the last few years we’ve seen new trends in terms of how and where our arms are used, so the main goal of the updated Absolute Arm is to deliberately respond to those trends. What we’ve seen is more and more customers using their arms in more dirty and challenging environments – places like machining shops or foundries, where dust and fluid (oil and water) are always present. We’ve also seen customers shipping their arm off-site more and more frequently, often to a different facility, but sometimes even to a different country. Finally, like many manufacturing companies, we also see high market growth in new markets – places like Vietnam, where perhaps the climate is warm and humid, and our customers don’t have the infrastructure normally associated with high-end metrology equipment. So when we took a step back and looked at these trends, it was very easy to see that we needed to bring a new level of robustness to the arm if we were going to meet the latest measurement challenges of many of our customers.
Do you then expect to see a wide market interest in a better environmentally protected portable measuring arm?
Well, of course we recognise that a more robust arm might not interest all of our customers, but really the changes we have made to the Absolute Arm are about giving our users the confidence to go and measure in environments that might have caused them to hesitate previously. We’re already seeing measurement in interesting places that would have never been considered appropriate for advanced metrology devices 10 years ago, so we’re pretty excited to see what our customers come up with now they have even better protection.
What was the process for securing the IP54 rating?
Well, in reality we had to almost completely re-design the internals of the arm, to ensure that all sensitive components were fully protected against entry of dust and fluid. But when you look at the arm externally, it’s almost identical to its predecessor, and that’s a huge testament to the skills of our brilliant engineering team, and I’m very proud of this. Not changing the arm externally allowed us to avoid making unnecessary changes to things like the packaging, and that meant that we were able to bring an updated arm to market more quickly.
What sort of environments are the new arms well-suited to?
The updated Absolute Arm has two vital new features: IP54 protection against dust and fluids, and a wider operating temperature range, from 5 to 45°C. What that means for the user is that the arm can be used in hotter (and colder) environments than previously, and that the arm can be used in places where dust and fluid are present. Places like foundries, as I mentioned before, but also machining centres (particularly ones that use a water jet, or involve the machining of composite parts, which creates a lot of fine dust) are some examples, but there are many more. We’ve seen customers measuring automotive exhaust pipes, for example, by raising the car up and measuring from underneath. What happens if oil or brake fluid drips on the arm there? I’m happy to be able to say that now, the answer to that question is nothing happens that a damp cloth can’t fix.
How does this fit together with the added SFx Asset Management compatibility?
Well, we thought that if you’re a customer who needs to ship an arm to a different country to reverse engineer, I don’t know, an old turbine blade for MRO for example, it’s entirely understandable that you would want to know how your investment is doing while it’s there. The SFx Asset Management platform allows you to do that remotely. You can see the arm’s status at any time – is it active? What type of probe is it using? This, combined with the global coverage of our service centres means that our customers can measure pretty much anywhere with greater confidence. As I said before, ‘confidence’ is the key to this product.
To learn more click here for further information on our portable measuring arm solutions.