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Shaun Wissner


The Power of Connectivity in Software

Enabling industrial manufacturers to harness the untapped potential of data

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - 11:01

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Connectivity has changed the world we live in. While today it is a trend, the true potential of connectivity lies in the future. As manufacturers begin to investigate how they can integrate this developing technology, they rely on solutions from organizations, like Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, to offer software environments that enable them to get the power of connectivity today.

Hexagon’s recent acquisitions have allowed the company to shift from a primary focus on metrology to a more generally focused technology solutions provider. The company is now able to integrate advanced manufacturing solutions from the beginning of the manufacturing product cycle, into the manufacturing process, and ultimately to the analysis and revision stage. One essential aspect where Hexagon is bridging the connectivity gap is through model-based engineering.

What is model-based engineering?

Model-based engineering—also known as product and manufacturing information, or model-based definition—is simply digital tolerance annotations embedded in a computer-aided design (CAD) model. The idea is to remove both paper and the interpretation errors from the manufacturing and quality processes. The types of information included are geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), component-level materials, assembly-level bills of materials, and engineering configurations and design intent.

With CAD software tools, component manufacturers can receive a single CAD file and complete all the necessary steps to build and inspect a given part. The ability to design tooling, machinery, and processes from the CAD model has been common practice for years, and an accompanying blueprint was always required to create an inspection plan. Now, however, the component datum structure, GD&T, key characteristics, and any other necessary dimensioning can be embedded directly into the CAD model. The only thing a quality technician needs is inspection software capable of utilizing the embedded data—like PC-DMIS. The name “PC-DMIS” comes from the concatenation of two acronyms: PC stands for “personal computer,” and DMIS stands for “Dimensional Measurement Interface Specification.”

Incorporating model-based engineering

PC-DMIS can use this embedded data to create features, datum definitions, and associated dimensions from a single click in the software. PC-DMIS all but eliminates the need to program inspection routines via messy code and clunky text editors by offering a feature-control frame editor directly through the graphical user interface.

By exploiting the benefits of model-based engineering and PC-DMIS, a quality technician can create inspection plans for new components in half the time typically associated with these tasks. It’s a simple process to import the CAD model and select the feature-control frames and other linear dimensioning from the model-based definition. Either by automatically importing all product and manufacturing information at the start, or individually selecting each dimension, PC-DMIS will add the correct features and tolerancing to the plan based on the designer’s intent with no interpretation necessary by the quality technician. As an added benefit, the built-in Change Manager also ensures the inspection routine is always up to date with the latest engineering revision changes and notations.

PC-DMIS 2017 R2

In the latest release of PC-DMIS from Hexagon, the software features improved user workflows that allow the user to work smarter. Some of these improvements include new mesh tools, customizable layouts with inspection results populated during measurement, outlier filtering, and VISI integration. Other improvements that have been made enhance the workflows from each stage of the quality inspection process: creation, validation, execution, and analysis, with a strong emphasis on planning and the execution of measurement routines.

Planning and execution

Planning a measurement routine is a crucial part of the inspection process, which can sometimes become a bottleneck in the manufacturing cycle if not strategically implemented. Improvements such as the outlier filter offer a better way to handle noise on small arc segments and at the end points of a line. Users can now correctly identify and remove those outliers requiring less manual analysis and re-checks from the programmer. Additionally, the ability to create linear, open-scan features with a simple point-click-and-drag workflow improve offline planning speed while decreasing visual clutter and complexity.

Earlier in 2017, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence introduced INSPECT for PC-DMIS. INSPECT is a simple user interface designed for the operator to simply press and execute a measurement routine without having to go into the programming interface of the software. This allows the operator to quickly run inspection programs, while avoiding potential tampering with the measurement program.

Turning data into actionable information

Data is considered the wellspring for maximizing manufacturing efficiency. Most manufacturers only use a fraction of the data collected to report on specific items. But what if you had a platform that allowed you to use all the data collected to make informed decisions instantaneously? HxGN SMART Quality brings information automation to quality management, allowing manufacturers to take total control of their process and achieve a smart, data-driven approach to manufacturing. HxGN SMART Quality is an online quality life-cycle management software platform that harnesses the quality data stream across multiple phases of manufacturing. The solution provides knowledge through comprehensive statistical analysis, visualization, and workflow management, and enabling real-time process improvements that increase the competitiveness of manufacturing businesses.

Offering the ability to collect, analyze, and structure data into actionable information, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence technologies enable industrial manufacturers to harness the untapped potential of data to improve process efficiency and production speed so that quality drives productivity. Providing connectivity across data sources to gain greater insight from gathered information, the powerful HxGN SMART Quality connectivity toolset collects and structures quality and process parameter data from multiple sources around the factory and even within the supply chain. Using the standard Advanced Quality Data Exchange Format (AQDEF) file format to homogenize and integrate data into one database, it enables statistical process control analyses and user-specific reporting to be automated for various types of information.

Moving from metrology to manufacturing intelligence

The transition from Hexagon Metrology to Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence gives Hexagon a broader outlook far beyond just measurement, encompassing nearly all aspects of product development. With the acquisition of MSC, Vero Software, and Q-DAS, Hexagon can now offer solutions from design and manufacturing to simulation, inspection, and analysis. Encompassing the entire manufacturing process allows Hexagon to become a major player in closed-loop manufacturing and connecting the digital thread.


About The Author

Shaun Wissner’s picture

Shaun Wissner

Shaun Wissner is a software specialist for Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, developer and manufacturer of measurement instruments and software. Wissner’s background is in quality engineering, product life-cycle management, and laboratory management. Wissner joined Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence in 2000 as an applications engineer, and currently provides new product training and communications for the Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence software division.