Metrology Software Drives Down Suppliers' PPM Rates, Ensures QualitySat, 09/01/2018 - 10:49
In vehicle production, meeting dimensional specifications is necessary to ensure the quality of components and their effective performance. If suppliers fail to comply with these specifications, OEMs may fine them or altogether expel these companies from their supplier base, making a metrology solution crucial for operations, according to Miguel Arias, Director General of PolyWorks México, the local subsidiary of Canada-based metrology software company InnovMetric Software Inc.
“Automakers push their quality requirements down the whole supply chain to prevent expensive halts in their assembly lines and the only way to ensure components are perfectly suited for assembly is through dimensional metrology inspection,” says Arias. As the new subsidiary of InnovMetric Software, PolyWorks México offers a variety of metrology software tools for both OEMs and suppliers to detect defective components and ensure quality is kept throughout the value chain.
Before it was purchased by InnovMetric in February 2018, PolyWorks México was known as Prefixa Vision Systems, a Mexican company focused on software development and an official distributor of PolyWorks in Mexico. The company had successfully grown PolyWorks’ presence in the country and according to InnovMetric, Mexico became the fifth most important market for the company behind Japan, the US, Germany and China.
Its acquisition by InnovMetric has helped the company to boost its technical support and sales, as well as to strengthen its R&D team. “Software development is part of our core business and as part of InnovMetric we will continue developing software to support PolyWorks products’ evolution,” Arias says. “Our business model is oriented to creating solutions that add value to automotive and aerospace companies.”
Among the challenges the company faces to introduce its solutions is companies’ reluctance to invest in improving manufacturing processes. “Mexico is a late technology adopter because companies tend to focus on reducing costs rather than on improving processes,” Arias says. While 3D scanners have been in the market for over 20 years, they only became popular in the automotive industry around 2008 and in Mexico since 2012. “Technological evolution takes place slowly in Mexico because companies lose interest in introducing significant changes to their production processes when things are already working well,” says Arias. “Mexico could use better metrology practices and increase quality delivery certifications. Companies are gradually becoming more open to adopting these solutions.”
PolyWorks México curbs the problem of resistance to technology among SMEs by giving its clients access to technical support and organizing training workshops. “The added value of increasing training and technical support is helping companies improve the quality of their components through their production engineers,” he says. Technical support and training lets PolyWorks México’s users rise to the level of other companies in Germany, Japan or any other advanced manufacturing country. “Our solutions are relatively pricey but their features are worth the price and can lead to a return on investment of approximately six months depending on the client’s operations,” says Arias.
Looking ahead, PolyWorks México plans to boost its sales force, as well as its R&D operations in Queretaro and its software development unit in Puebla, according to Arias. Metrology equipment suppliers generally sell an integrated solution of hardware and software but users tend to prefer PolyWorks because it is easier and more comfortable for users to create metrology reports and to trace and follow up defective components in production lines.
As technology evolves, however, PolyWorks has found itself needing to develop software solutions that adapt to new metrology hardware and increase demand of tools and features from the final users. According to Arias, the company released a version of its software designed for coordinate-measuring machines as a strategy to expand into new market segments beyond probes and 3D scanners. “The cloud, mobile apps and augmented reality devices are the next step for metrology solutions for the automotive industry,” he says.