Last week I had the pleasure of attending Hexagon 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Held June 6-9, the conference hosted more than 2,500 attendees from 65 countries. Customers, partners, and members of the press were treated to keynotes, informational sessions in Geosystems; Intergraph Process, Power & Marine (PP&M); Intergraph Security, Government & Infrastructure (SG&I); and Metrology, and some fun activities that included an evening at Universal Studios. (I recommend the dueling pianos at Pat O’Briens® and the Harry Potter ride.
I was there to cover Metrology, and while my proofreader likely does approve of my capitalizing this word, I'm doing so because this science of measurement is of critical importance in fabricating and much of our world, even in locations as relatively remote as Saskatoon, SK Canada.
Hexagon Metrology is part of the Hexagon AB Group and includes brands such as Brown & Sharpe, Cognitens, DEA, Leica Geosystems (Metrology Division), Leitz, m&h Inprocess Messtechnik, Optiv, PC-DMIS, QUINDOS, ROMER, and TESA.
In his keynote speech, Ola Rollen, president and CEO, Hexagon AB, discussed the importance of Hexagon's technologies in understanding the face of the future. The company's divisional presidents joined him onstage in presenting an integrated story of methodical innovations, new ideas, and creativity.
The visuals were impressive in the opening commentary that addressed the future challenges of a growing population, the ever-changing landscape, and the accelerating need for more effective use of land and resources that have become a global reality requiring a global response. Measurement and visualization technologies play an integral role in that response.
(The only statement in the keynote that didn’t necessarily ring true for me was that the growing population is getting richer and richer. That may be true for developing nations, but it doesn't describe what Im seeing in the U.S. and other developed nations in this economic downturn.)
While I find some of the design visualization technology very interesting and would love to learn more, I was there to cover Metrology, as were many others. Hexagon Metrology President and CEO Norbert Hanke began his keynote with a video of the history of the company that began by making cameras, followed by sewing machines, measuring instruments, and CMMs and systems for industrial measuring. Future technology investments will focus on probing systems and developing more software in conjunction with Intergraph, which is part of the Hexagon Group.
Among the things I learned in Hanke's keynote was its customer makeup. Its largest market segment is the automotive industry, followed by aircraft, general industry, energy, and medical. In my one-on-one interview with Hanke, we discussed whether medical might become a larger market as the population ages. (I brought this up because of my own bionic hips and because a fellow member of the press had just had a knee replaced.)
The most interesting part of my interview with Hanke centered around the value-added services that the company provides. While I promised not to reveal what I found to be the most exciting element—one that directly addresses a leading cause of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association—I do want to tout the company's service, which first was brought to my attention at the breakfast table I shared with attendee Don Newman, quality assurance manager at the New Holland plant in Saskatoon, SK Canada, a Hexagon Metrology customer.
Don told me that his plant had used Leica and Romer equipment for at least 10 years and the equipment was chosen because of Hexagon's service.
Following up on our conversation, I e-mailed Don and asked if he would be willing to go on record with his opinion of Hexagon. He replied, "I am happy to go on the record with my comments about Hexagon.
"They have provided excellent and timely service, both by phone and (when necessary) at their repair location. Our location in Saskatoon is not highly supported and serviced by many providers of this type of equipment, but Hexagon has proven their ability to effectively keep our lab up and running. Turnaround was quick, and they went the extra mile to support our need for the equipment. Their training has been effective and definitely worth the cost.
"We have a Leica laser from Hexagon that we use for measuring our components and assembled farm implements including planters, seeders, and harvesting equipment ranging in size up to 90 feet across. It has proven to be a very flexible and productive piece of measuring equipment, and is especially effective because the large sizes and complex configurations of our products.
"All of our measurement equipment (CMM, Optical Comparator, Romer Arms, etc.) uses PCDMIS software also from Hexagon. This has become our standard for creating and running our measurement routines."
Don's testimony bears out what Hanke said in his keynote about Hexagon Metrology’s philosophy: "Think globally and act locally." It works for Don and it works for Hexagon.
Custom fabricating shops see all kinds of jobs, large and small. Flexibility is important. But when a small job results in multiple changes that require a revised quote and the customer isn’t happy, it might be better to let the job go. Yes, you need to please customers, but you also need to make money.
Practical Welding Today was created to fill a void in the industry for hands-on information, real-world applications, and down-to-earth advice for welders. No other welding magazine fills the need for this kind of practical information.