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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

Hexagon Looks To The Future With Manufacturing Intelligence

June 16th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

We were in the land of Disney this week in Anaheim, California attending HxGN Live 2016, Hexagon’s international user conference. Millions of kids are now out of school and it seemed like a good percentage of them were in town to visit Mickey Mouse and company.

A little over six months ago, what was known as Hexagon Metrology became Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, a major rebranding to reflect its increasing capabilities in data-driven manufacturing. Much of the rebranding was enabled by Hexagon’s acquisitions that broadened its historical scope, such as the acquisition of Vero Software, a diverse CAD/CAM vendor. Surprisingly, Vero had a relatively minor presence at HxGN Live this year, but that is supposed to change at next year’s HxGN conference.

The brand name change aligns the manufacturing metrology business more closely with Hexagon’s overall strategy of offering software-centric information technologies that improve quality and productivity across manufacturing process workflows.

As a leading measurement equipment provider, Hexagon Metrology set out to offer complete quality assurance solutions, building an extensive portfolio of metrology equipment through a combination of innovation and acquisition. The company’s investment in research and development has yielded technology revolutions that first moved measurement from the quality room to the point of production and then brought metrology data into the wider factory workflow.

HxGN Live 2016

 Other recent acquisitions beyond Vero Software, include statistical process control vendor Q-DAS, have further expanded the business’ offering into broader manufacturing technologies – prompting the decision to rebrand as Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.

“The approach of our business is to listen to customers and evolve to meet their needs, and our rebrand is the next stage of this evolution,” said Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence President and CEO, Norbert Hanke. “Manufacturers need to work with speed and confidence, which is why they prefer integrated systems and single-supplier solutions that give them the process efficiency they need to compete and lead their industries.

“As Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, we are ideally positioned to support these aspirations. We have moved beyond the isolated data capture of traditional metrology, enabling customers to analyse and leverage data for more informed decision making – sensing, thinking and acting, as we call it. We intend to focus our research on connecting these capabilities to offer customers a closed-loop manufacturing approach where quality drives productivity, as well as continuing to develop our core competencies in dimensional metrology.”

Angus Taylor, president and CEO, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, said that the name change signifies Hexagon moving into a new space that is bringing data together for the next generation customer who is working in a different environment and has higher expectations. He said that although there is a growing manufacturing skill shortage, just as vital is that manufacturing customers do not want to wait for information because they need to make decisions quicker. Many of these same customers have become very interested in how information flows and they expect things to be done differently.

Taylor thinks CMMs and other metrology equipment may become commodities; user experience will the differentiator, and Hexagon is working very diligently in this area. He also said that the majority of Hexagon’s metrology equipment can be operated by one person. He also posited the possibility that in the future one person might run both CAM and metrology software, eliminating many standalone metrology positions.

On a really encouraging note, he said that metrology software will become more machine agnostic and less specific and proprietary. I’m all for that!

Finally, Taylor said that total workflow is  becoming much more important to Hexagon than just metrology – a message repeated several times this week.

One of the most interesting exhibitors we visited with and video interviewed was Gamma 2 Robotics. At the show the company introduced its new security patrol robot, RAMSEE, a machine that they hope will change the world of security because it never rests (beyond being recharged) and operates at a fraction of the cost normally paid for cameras, technology, and human security services.

Gamma 2 Robotics at HxGN Live

RAMSEE is a physical presence that autonomously patrols without supervision; provides real-time data from intruders, motion, heat, fire, smoke, and gases; and has a human-machine interface that creates what the company calls a force multiplier.

RAMSEE was designed, built, and is ideally suited for the overnight dull, dirty and dangerous patrols nobody wants to do. Not surprisingly, these are the jobs that the security industry struggles to find staffing.

As with PTC’s LiveWorx 2016 last week, there was a ton of information I gathered and people I spoke to this week at HxGN Live 2016 – way more material than I can cover here – so in the coming weeks look for details on what I saw, heard, and learned. I’ll also explore the increasingly strong connections between the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, and metrology (the science of measurement).

As this week draws to a close, I’ve experienced that Hexagon is becoming much more than a metrology company and is opening itself up to a much bigger world and prospective customer base

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