What Retrofitting Is & Why You Need It
Fortunately for businesses that invest in CMM equipment, CMM hardware is built to last. Though the initial cost of investment in a new or refurbished machine may be high, the actual structure of the machine is pretty durable, giving decades of use and a great ROI with the right maintenance.
However, in many ways CMM technology is advancing rapidly. Just over the past few years we have seen huge changes in inspection techniques, production methodologies and operator skill sets to name but a few. Plus advancements in software, probing equipment and electronic controllers.
The result is that a typical CMM is unlikely to physically wear out before it simply becomes obsolete. In fact, some types of CMM technology, such as controllers and software, could be obsolescent in as little as three years. It would be madness to purchase a full replacement CMM every few years, so what is the alternative? The answer is retrofitting.
Retrofitting involves selectively replacing and modernising key equipment to improve a CMM’s accuracy and productivity, while leaving the structural components intact.
Businesses choose to retrofit old CMM equipment for various reasons. This may be due to wear and tear, loss of accuracy or simply due to high maintenance costs. Your scales and reader head encoders may have become damaged or your old electronics may not be compatible with newer motors, or your controller may have become obsolete.
A retrofit can be reactive, in response to a mechanical fault, or it can be proactive to increase the capabilities of an older machine.
Candidates for retrofits are often in the final third of their working life cycle, but this is not always the case. Some businesses choose to retrofit fairly new CMM’s in response to changing inspection requirements or new software releases.
A retrofit can completely transform an old CMM to meet the speed, productivity, accuracy and efficiency demands of a modern business – plus many other benefits. A retrofit can add brand-new functionality to increase its versatility and value. In this guide we will look at how this is possible and the way we approach retrofitting at Status.
Advantages Of Retrofitting
Retrofit your CMM in order to:
- Lower your maintenance costs
- Extend the working life of an old machine
- Repair broken components
- Reduce cycle time
- Increase reliability
- Restore accuracy to an old machine
- Reduce downtime
- Provide a stopgap solution until you can invest in additional equipment
- Take advantage of advanced metrology software
- Increase inspection capacity
- Reduce training requirements
- Take on more varied measurements
- Increase automation options
- Increase operational efficiency
- Lower running costs and maintenance requirements
- Comply with new industry standards or legislation
- Reduce staff requirements / costs
As you can see, there are dozens of reasons you might want to retrofit your machine and an equal number of potential benefits. In short, the goal of a retrofit is to transform a little used, unreliable, obsolete or difficult to use machine into a dependable, fully operable, upgradable, easy-to-use asset for your business.Read More +
Turnkey Retrofitting From Status
At Status, we offer a turnkey retrofitting solution that includes the latest CMM software, five axis controllers, a wide range of probe sensors and full training. Each retrofit is oriented to the goals of your business and is supported by our ISO 9001 accredited quality systems.
In this section we explain how to plan your retrofits around the life-cycle of your CMM, what is included in a typical retrofit, and the types of hardware and software that can be retrofitted to your old CMM.
How do retrofits fit in with the typical life cycle of a metrology system? While some businesses choose to retrofit a wide spectrum of components in one sitting, this is obviously a costly option. Some systems become obsolete more slowly than others, so it makes financial sense to plan retrofitting as an ongoing practice over several years.
Here is a quick guide to when you might want to replace certain components:
- Metrology software: we recommend updating software with annually.
- Computer: Replace after 2 to 3 years.
- CMM 3-Axis Electronic Controllers: Replace every 8 to 10 years.
- Hardware, base and mechanical structure: Replace if necessary after 20 years.
What Is Included
Our retrofitting service is flexible, with different levels available depending on the type of machine and your requirements. A typical retrofit may include some or all of the following:
- New PC and PC peripherals
- New metrology software, for instance, PC-DMIS or latest versions of an already
- installed application
- CMM rewiring to improve electronics
- Upgrade of CNC control system to incorporate the latest technology
- New scales and reader heads
- New probe heads and sensors
Motors, drives and measuring scales are normally left untouched as long as they are in good order and can interface well with the new components. However, sometimes we recommend replacing these components in order for them to work successfully with the new system.
Latest Generation Components
We use the latest generation of CMM products to boost the productivity of your unit, including the following enhancements:
Many of the latest controllers are intended specifically for retrofitting. Our own line of controllers are designed to upgrade the capacity of an older CMM to modern standards, giving significant savings compared to the cost of a new machine. Our RC1, B5 and DC family controllers can be retrofitted to practically any brand and type of CMM.
Probe Sensor Changers
Upgrading your CMM to incorporate touch trigger probing with automatic probe sensor changing will hugely increase its measurement abilities.
Automatic Positioning Probe Heads
New automatic positioning probe heads come with a range of increment options to increase the flexibility of your machine. These can be configured at 2.5° angles, 5.0° angles or 7.5° angles.
High Accuracy Scanning Probe Sensor
The latest tactile probes can increase the accuracy of most old CMM models. Options include scanning sensors, tactile probing or continuous contact scanning.
Non-Contact Camera Probe Sensor
Non-contact sensors are one of the most exciting innovations to transform CMM technology over the past decade. Retrofitting can bring this advanced capability to older models of CMM. Upgrade to a non-contact camera sensor: the 2D light-sensitive CCD and integral LED illuminate an area of a measured component and allow it to be viewed in precision accuracy. This allows fast optical measurement for a wide range of large-scale components.
Non-Contact Laser Scanning Sensor
Laser scanning sensors provide a range of benefits, including rapid point cloud capture, inspection to CAD (perfect for thin-walled and sheet metal parts), free-form surface inspection and reverse engineering.
PC-DMIS Metrology Software
PC-DMIS is the market leading CMM software application from Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. In terms of flexibility, advanced features and price it outperforms all its major competitors, making it our standard choice for all software retrofits. All new retrofits come with the latest version of PC-DMIS as standard.
PC-DMIS is available in three different versions depending on your working style:
- PC-DMIS Pro: A powerful metrology package with a full suite of measurement, analytics and reporting functions – which does not depend on CAD capabilities.
- PC-DMIS CAD: The first CMM platform to fully integrate CAD modelling into the inspection process. Can directly interface with CAD systems through its DCI (Direct CAD Interface) system.
- PC-DMIS CAD++: The enhanced version of PC-DMIS CAD supports the most advanced non-contact probes, laser scanners and optical devices for precision results on complex measurements.
All versions of PC-DMIS are compatible with ‘I++ Client’ and ‘I++ Server’ protocols and can be retrofitted to a wide range of CMM hardware.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is plenty to think about when considering a CMM retrofit. In this section we’ve included some of our most frequently asked questions.
Q: What alternatives are there to retrofitting?
You can choose to upgrade an old CMM. Upgrades are proactive responses to changing business requirements and can be customised to improve a desired
characteristic, such as energy, accuracy, speed or throughput. Upgrades are normally more selective in what they replace than a retrofitting service. If your
inspection requirements have expanded drastically, you may also want to consider investing in a new or refurbished machine.
Most businesses approach retrofitting as part of a goal-based improvement plan, which may also include investing in new kit. When we advise customers on the best path to take, we start with your end goal and work backwards from there, recommending the appropriate action to meet your requirements in the most affordable way.
Q: How much does retrofitting cost?
As each retrofitting solution is tailor-made for individual customers, there is no standard cost. Prices are based on the components used, labour and training. All projects are quoted individually and come with full after-sales support and warranty.
Q: Would it be cheaper to retrofit or purchase a new machine?
This depends on the age, size and condition of the CMM you want retrofitting. The cost of a retrofit depends on what components need changing and to what extent the capacity need upgrading. If your machine frame is well serviced and in good condition, a retrofit can easily extend the value and working life of your machine. If this is damaged, however, you may not get the full value from your retrofit. Also, if your old machine has a measuring volume of less than 700 mm, the cost of a more accurate refurbished or new machine may be equivalent to the cost of the retrofit. If your old CMM is in good condition you may be able to part exchange it for a new one, reducing the cost of a new investment. Have a chat with us and we’ll recommend the best course of action for you on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Will my CMM be more accurate or faster after the retrofit?
Retrofitting primarily targets software capability and functionality, which always leads to an improvement in throughput. If your retrofit includes a new controller it can result in smoother cycle times with time savings of up to 30%. However, retrofits don’t directly target accuracy or speed. For this you may wish to consider upgrading the structure of your CMM or increasing your capacity with an additional machine.
Q: What will happen to my part programs after the retrofit?
This depends on the software you use and the compatibility between your old system and the new system. If you upgrade to PC-DMIS, for instance, you will be able to import any compatible DMIS file from your old system, as well as MMIV, Tutor and Master files. However with some new controllers none of your old programs may be compatible, especially if you are currently using old software.
Q: Do you offer servicing for retrofitted machines?
Yes. We offer a complete maintenance and repair service for all types of retrofitted CMM’s, including spare parts, calibration and breakdown cover.
Q: How much training will I need to use the machine?
This depends on how extensively the retrofit changes the CMM’s functions. We provide complete training for your team with each retrofit. These are 3 to 8 day courses held at our regional training centres.
Why Choose Status?
Established in 1982, Status is one of the country’s leading specialists in CMM retrofits and upgrades, as well as suppliers of high quality new and refurbished CMM’s. We serve businesses in a wide range of manufacturing sectors, including the aerospace, automotive manufacturing, medical technology, power generation, precision engineering, shipbuilding, tool manufacturing sector and more.
We pride ourselves on offering personalised sales advice, suggesting the best solution to meet the needs of your business and enabling you to get the best return from your budget. We offer all the CMM services you need under one roof, from equipment supply to consumables, servicing and consultancy.
We are official strategic partners for some of the world’s leading CMM manufacturers and software developers, accredited to supply and retrofit machines from:
- Hexagon UK
- Romer (France)
- TESA (Switzerland)
- QDAS SPC
We guarantee fast delivery times on all retrofits and upgrades, with a UK based team and a large stock of machine parts, probes, controllers, sensors and consumables.
CMM Accessories & Consumables
We stock a range of accessories and consumables for all CMM machines, including a CMM cleaning kit, probe stylus and Swift Fix CMM fixturing module. Please get in touch for further details of how to order.
Additional CMM Support Services
In addition to retrofitting, our team provide a range of CMM support services. Get in touch to find out more about:
- Consultancy and training
- Outsourced metrology
- Contract part programming
- UKAS Accredited CMM calibration and servicing
- CMM machine hire