Consistent with the aims of Industry 4.0, the new Metrology Gate portal provides remote access to information on the status and performance of all connected metrology devices. Available data includes measurement results and a summary of errors, a record of program changes, uptime of the CMMs and OEE. Historical logs assist troubleshooting and warn when routine maintenance is due, not only of the inspection machines, but of the machine tools or other equipment on which the components are being made.

Delays in data searching are avoided, improving reporting procedures. Comprehensive daily reports include total output per shift and the number of parts measured, sudden changes in process averages, and comparisons between different machines producing the components. Graphical CAD reports, SPC analyses with Cp and Cpk results, and environmental logs including operating temperature are generated and communicated, alongside charts to aid interpretation and understanding.

In the case of critical dimensional discrepancies or hardware failure, the software shares the information with users immediately by sending alerts via email, SMS, WeChat or WhatsApp. Metrology jobs can be stopped and reset if performance is inadequate, maximising yield and minimising scrap.

Normally, data acquired is stored in the cloud but may be held on servers in different countries if preferred, or even on an individual computer. Either way, it is accessible over the internet instantly and globally in real time, on a PC in an office or using an app on handheld devices when on the move.

However, one of the major benefits of LK's Metrology Gate is that it is not necessary to travel at all to gain access to the information, cutting costs and saving time. Furthermore, as the quality control data is acquired automatically and therefore objectively, its accuracy is practically guaranteed, says the company. The risk of human error is avoided, including during the preparation of reports, which are produced automatically rather than manually, and are easily tailored to suit customer requirements.

A hierarchical permissions structure can be built into the platform so that personnel have access only to the information which is relevant to their seniority and requirements. The system can be phased in by implementing it in one factory and gradually expanding the network with additional licences.