How Does Automated Measurement Work?

One of the biggest causes of product defects aside from using poor-quality materials is inaccurate measurement. For example, machined bicycle parts that are off by only a few millimeters can already be rendered unusable. Imagine if the company is dealing with components that must always form an exact fit, such as components used for building complex machines such as robots or safety-critical systems like aircrafts.

Relying on basic quality assurance (QA) in screening out defective products before they are shipped out does help cut down the chances of product recalls and receiving bad feedback from customers. Unfortunately, defective products are still being made more often than expected. Even if manual QA manages to pinpoint some inconsistencies in measurement, companies still needs the right solutions to address the issue. After all, it’s much better to get a batch of products right from the get go instead of discovering defects only when more batches have already been produced. This is where automated measurement comes into the picture.

Automated Measurement in a Nutshell

Automated measurement is the process of taking precise measurements using special machinery that does not require human interference. Depending on the type of product and variable being measured, automated measurement systems may have a wide variety of components to suit the job. Here's a quick rundown of some of the most commonly used components in automated measurement systems:

Optical sensors – Optical sensors take images of the part being measured and determines the actual dimension using those images.

Infrared and Lasers – Infrared and Lasers emitters have been used to determine the distance from two separate points using triangulation methods, and this method translates well to automated measurement systems. Using multiple lasers allow simultaneous measurement of a single component from multiple angles.

Contact sensors and pressure plates – A mechanical alternative to the previous two sensors, these sensors take measurements by determining the amount of pressure put on the plates as they pass over products that have to be measured.

In order to measure a specimen, an automated measurement system needs to put the product into the proper position. There are two ways to go about this: bringing the specimen to the sensors or bringing the sensors to the specimen. In true automatic fashion, the system can bring the sensors directly to the specimen being measured or the specimen itself can be placed where the sensors can take the measurement. This is made possible by using a series of components such as motors and custom linear stages, which ensure precision positioning of the load and the sensors taking the measurements.

Applying Automated Measurement in the Production Process

Since the demand for precision is present throughout the production process, automated measurement is often integrated into key parts of the process. For example, measurements can be taken while the components are currently being fabricated to ensure grinders or cutters make precise cuts during the machining process. Automated measurement can also be used to check parts coming straight off the fabrication process to see if components meet the exact specifications before being sent to the final part of QA.

The data obtained by an automated measurement system may be used to check for errors during production process for later evaluation, but most advanced systems today can also automatically send the data straight to other machines involved in production. This allows other active automated systems to make the right adjustments on the fly without the need for human interference.

Automated measurement systems come in different shapes, sizes, and configurations. This means manufacturers across different industries will always have specialized systems that would work well with the type of product they are making. As the technology become more effective, versatile, and affordable, even small and medium-scale business will have easier access to automated measurement systems.


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