EMPIR project on large scale dimensional measurements sees early uptake

Automated factory mixing machine
Automated factory machine

Improving large-scale dimensional measurements for manufacturing

In sectors such as the aerospace and automotive industries, large volume components are manufactured, modified, and assembled to create complex products.

Completed EMPIR project Large Volume Metrology Applications (17IND03, LaVA) targeted improved, accurate, traceable measuring systems for operation as Large Volume Metrology (LVM) tools and integration of these tools into a factory coordinate metrology network.

The network and tools were designed and built to be suitable for operation in typical factory environments or for permanent inclusion inside manufacturing systems such as large machine tools, industrial robots, etc., in accordance with ISO Geometrical Product Specification (GPS) standards.

The new tools and technologies offer better accuracy than existing systems, enhanced uncertainty calculation and budgeting, improved compensation methods for air refractive index, and the ability to interface with production and assembly process control, resulting in traceability, efficiency and cost improvements in industries & science facilities relying on LVM.

Achievements from the project include:

  • Unified Device Interface for collecting data from several types of large volume metrology tools is available for manufacturers and researchers. This includes example implementations for three commercial instruments.
  • Requests from both the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Advanced Machinery & Productivity Institute (AMPI) organisations to supply them with commercial copies of the OPTIMUM sensor system developed in the project. AMPI will stimulate and support the rapid growth of the UK’s machinery manufacturing sector as it transitions to highly integrated digital solutions with sophisticated automated and autonomous robotic systems. It will enable invention, realise innovation, and increase the adoption of new machinery and robotics through UK equipment manufacturers.

    Additional ongoing interest in OPTIMUM is being shown by the aerospace community.
  • The multilateration system developed in the project is being used to provide metrology for a large cable-crane robot in Montpelier in France, owned by a research organisation.

Project Coordinator Andrew Lewis from NPL said

‘Advanced manufacturing systems following concepts such as Industry 4.0 or Factories of the Future can only operate at their best when they have access to accurate, traceable metrology data. For aerospace manufacturing in particular, this means having the ability to measure over ranges of tens of metres, to sub-millimetre uncertainty, to ensure the accuracy of parts and assemblies in situ. Better dimensional metrology, enabled through the outputs of project like LaVA will lead to reduced need for shimming, thereby reducing unwanted weight, leading to better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions’.

The work of this project is continuing in EMPIR project Dynamic applications of large volume metrology in industry of tomorrow environments (20IND02, DynaMITE), which is developing dynamic tools based on modern sensors and techniques suited to aerospace and automotive production.

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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