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Belinda Jones


Worth a Read: The Technology Roadmap for Large-Scale Manufacturing

A metrology evolution is needed to power the future of the industry

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 21:06

Achieving Smart Factory initiatives requires a seismic shift toward data-driven processes, sensors, and advanced metrology solutions. Large-scale manufacturers bear the load of crushing backlogs and internal pressures to eke out more productivity. What are the roadblocks? Will existing measurement technologies get us there, or do we need to rethink the current path? What is the 10-year plan for technology?

These all-important questions led to the formation of the PrecisionPath Consortium (PPC) for Large-Scale Manufacturing , a working partnership of commercial-industry partners, the Coordinate Metrology Society, and UNC-Charlotte. This collaborative effort brought together key users, managers, and developers of metrology software and hardware for their first two-year project.

During this time, the team worked to determine and prioritize the technology requirements of manufacturers producing large-scale, high-accuracy parts and products. The PPC also conducted an industrywide survey over a six-month period to capture valuable insights from professionals in the metrology field. The study inquired about existing capabilities and requirements, as well as anticipated future needs, for portable metrology systems used in large-scale precision manufacturing (LPM).

This work has culminated in the Technology Roadmap for Large-Scale Manufacturing, a compelling 70+ page report that summarizes their findings. The full report is free and available at the PPC website and can be downloaded here.

A big thank you goes out to the PrecisionPath Consortium representatives who contributed to the Technology Roadmap project, including leading manufacturing companies like Lockheed Martin, Newport News Shipbuilding, BMW, The Boeing Company, Caterpillar, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Spirit AeroSystems, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Siemens.

Participating OEMs and metrology service providers included Automated Precision (API), New River Kinematics (NRK), Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, ECM Global Measurement Solutions, Nikon Metrology, FARO Technologies, Brunson Instrument Co., Verisurf Software, and Planet Tool and Engineering. Consortium organizers are Ron Hicks, CMS PrecisionPath chair, and UNC Charlotte representatives Ed Morse with support from John Ziegert, Ram Kumar, and Antonis Stylianou. Thomas Lettieri of NIST served in a consulting role for the consortium.


Ed Morse of UNC-Charlotte instructs a student on the uses of a ROMER Absolute Arm

The PrecisionPath technology roadmapping project was funded by an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department. The PPC is currently determining a five-year plan and upcoming research projects. Interested metrology professionals who can commit to attending PrecisionPath technical meetings and conferences are urged to contact Hicks at ron.hicks@apisensor.com or Morse at emorse@uncc.edu.

A Brief Overview

The PrecisionPath Technology Roadmap details all aspects of the metrology industry as it relates to the challenges of large-scale manufacturing today. The research covers market drivers, technology families, usage scenarios, industry standards, data management, and workforce development. Based on data analysis and the industry survey, the report outlines a variety of trends that cut across multiple 3D measurement technology families. These findings are expected to drive consequential changes in both hardware and software solutions as manufacturers make incremental moves toward Smart Factory initiatives.

PPC Team leaders and members of each working group contributed a large body of research on technologies and drivers, usage applications, and other critical areas of study. The roadmap identifies serious vulnerabilities within the industry due to the lack of a vibrant workforce, current skillsets, and the shedding of nearly 25 percent of the metrology workforce retiring in the next five years. The consortium provides a checklist of urgent actions to develop the sustainable workforce of the future. The roadmap also captures the mindshare of industry professionals, and the scope and potential of the next-generation, data-driven factory. The report presents the evolution of measurement technologies needed to support the future of the large-scale manufacturing industry.


About The Author

Belinda Jones’s picture

Belinda Jones

Belinda Jones is the founder and owner of HiTech Marketing LLC located in Westbrook, Connecticut. For more than a decade, Jones has written articles and commentaries about manufacturing, engineering, quality assurance, CAD/CAM/CAE applications, and other high-tech topics. She has extensive experience in marketing communications, technical sales, and applications engineering. Before joining the computer industry, she was a broadcast copywriter for four years. Jones holds degrees in fine arts and mechanical engineering, and studied cultural arts in Europe.