For years, the standard story about North American manufacturing was that it was in dire straits. Alarms were raised about how competition from overseas, especially expanding manufacturing centres in Asian countries that could operate with lower labour costs, was going to prove an existential threat to the moribund manufacturing sector in Canada and the United States. Some even predicted that the age of North American manufacturing power was over.
Recent data is providing reasons to doubt this narrative. After reaching a low point in 2010 of 11.5 million jobs, American manufacturing in 2016 employed 12.3 million workers. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institute, a major factor driving this resurgence is technology, and especially automation and robotics. Evidence shows that even small operations are benefiting from investments in automating production line processes, and one of the clearest areas of benefit is in quality control.
Quality control is vital to any production line, and automation both frees up labourers while also ensuring the parts your production line producers are in line with specifications. The good news is that with so many high-quality used Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs) on the market, it is easier than it has ever been to make CMM technology part of your production line without making a huge financial investment.
But what is the best way to purchase a used CMM, and what features should buyers look for?
Choose The Right Technology For Your Production Line
The most important thing to keep in mind is that CMMs are specialized technology. Machines tailored toward large-scale manufacturing, like Delta gantry machines, will not be well suited to parts and products that are smaller and more delicate, like microchips. CMMs that use video technology to render an image have different strengths and weaknesses than the traditional tactile sensors that have been the mainstay of the industry for the past 50 years.
It is best to do a little research into the particular needs of your industry, and it can help to talk to metrology experts about which measurement solutions are right for you.
Buy From Recognized CMM Dealers
With CMMs such an important part of production lines across North America, it is not hard to find used models for sale. But given how sensitive and specialized CMMs are, it’s best to trust a recognized dealer who can offer guarantee that the equipment is in good working condition and has been inspected by CMM coordinate measuring machine experts who can ensure all components, including probing systems, air lines, bearings, drive systems, and cabling are functional, and deliver reliable and accurate information.
A 2017 report from the World Economic Forum predicts that in the coming years, robotics will continue to shape the growth of the entire manufacturing industry. Small or large, manufacturing operations that want to stay competitive will need to see opportunities in greater automation and smarter, more interoperable production lines. Used CMMs are an affordable first step to take in 2018.