Laser trackers are the obvious choice for large scale inspections that require high accuracy. They are an established, trusted tool for the measurement of components and assemblies that are too big to fit under a CMM. However, laser trackers are often under-utilised within organisations and could be used more effectively, in more applications. In some cases, your laser tracker could allow you to save money and add value to your processes.
Building with Live Data
One of the most over-looked uses for a laser tracker is using it to build and assemble parts in real time. The laser tracker is capable of continuous measurement and most software enables direct readout from the tracker relative to a nominal location. This in turn allows operators to use the measurement data to position components and reduces the dependency on tooling which is expensive and can often be impractical.
Leveling to Gravity
Another feature of the laser tracker that is often under-used, is the ability to measure a gravity level. Not all trackers have this capability, but it is a useful feature when available. Measurement of gravity can help allow operators to use the instrument to manipulate, shim or adjust relative to gravity. This is particularly useful when setting out floor plates for large structures such as assembly fixtures.
Virtual Fit of Parts
Typically, a laser tracker measures large components that are difficult to move and confidence that parts will assemble correctly – without clashing – needs to be gained beforehand. Software such as SpatialAnalyzer extends the functionality further by utilising the generated measurement data to virtually fit parts, giving the necessary confidence that assembly in practice will happen as planned. Although this measurement data is not unique to the laser tracker, it is perhaps more relevant to the type of components that a laser tracker is typically used to measure.
Ensuring Simulation Matches Reality
Understanding how a robot path moves in practice and comparing this to a simulated off-line program can be a powerful diagnostic tool. In practice, this can be applied to many automated processes in order to understand how robots might deviate from intent, for example, composite deposition processes. Furthermore, the deviation from nominal data can be used to correct trajectories and externally calibrate the interaction between autonomous systems to dramatically improve performance. INSPHERE have extensive experience in doing so and regularly use laser trackers to validate autonomous processes.
BASELINE, Rapid Machine Tool Verification
At INSPHERE, we have taken increased tracker utilisation and measurement of automation one step further. Using the extensive know-how and expertise within the organisation, the product development team have created BASELINE, an easy-to-use machine tool verification solution. The system places a laser tracker on machine tools to run a full verification that takes less than one hour before important machining operations, for diagnostic measurement, or as a process control tool.
BASELINE is a software solution that – when used in conjunction with a laser tracker – automatically measures, analyses and identifies the errors on a machine tool. The process has a low uncertainty as multiple observations of each point are taken. The system delivers clear, actionable data that provides deeper insight into machine performance, meaning that maintenance interventions become predictive rather than being reactive, in a way that enables Industry 4.0 philosophies to become a reality. Ultimately, BASELINE provides increased profitability through reduced scrap and confidence in manufacturing processes.
INSPHERE will be launching the new system, March 21st at the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham to the advanced manufacturing community and potential buyers. For those interested in attending, the event is free, but spaces are limited.
You can register at https://inspherebaselinelaunch.eventbrite.co.uk/