“Automation” is somewhat synonymous to “modernization,” and this a key concept for many high-scale industrial laboratories. Some key reasons why labs push for automation of disparate processes is to better keep up with high production demands, minimize the incidence of human error, and increase the overall efficiency within the lab.
It makes sense to consider automating measurement in particular, given how dependent scientific processes are on the speed and accuracy in which results are delivered. There is also a lot of great news with regard to how this sector has grown—recent improvements in sensor and computer technology now enable automated measurement for various machining processesand machining parts.
Here’s a briefer on what makes automated measurement possible, and on which industries automated measurement is making a significant impact.
Automated measurement: Behind the systems
Automated measurement can cover a lot of groundwork in terms of the process scope. It’s possible to automate the measurement of either a single critical dimension or a set of different dimensions and forms on one workpiece.
An automated measurement system has two key components: data acquisition hardware and attached software. In order to collect the necessary data, the hardware is attached to sensors that can measure anything from image dimensions to temperature or voltage. Then, without human interference, the software component stores the data for future use of scientists, lab workers, or engineers.
This technology is both accessible and adaptable to various industries. For example, select institutions can choose to commission customized linear stages for the automated processes in their laboratories. Adopting precise motion solutions for higher laboratory efficiency is a sensible strategy for scaling up. The investment toward custom technology is likely to pay off if the pace of operations quickens, improves, and yields more value.
Industries that benefit from automated measurement
A number of industries reap the benefits from automating their measurement processes, as the applications are infinite. Somewhere in the machining process it would be possible to prevent product defects and cut back on losses—or on the flip side of the coin, to save human lives by accurately reading and interpreting vital patterns.
Here are some concrete examples of how automated measurement is adapted by myriad industries and/or disciplines.
- Diagnostics. One field that owes much of its modern success to automated measurement is the field of diagnostics. The ability to gather several thousand datasets of complex anatomical data all at once is of life-saving importance. The automated measurement process can be applied to everything from recording metadata for individual patents (such as height and weight); recording electrocardiographic (ECG) intervals; scanning digitized photographs for retinal vascular change in ophthalmology, and the like.
- The process of automated measurement has also proven key for microbiology and parasitology. Outside of medicine, the process can be used to quantify the anaerobic digestion of microorganisms, and assist in better solid waste or industrial waste water management.
- Automated measurement also proves crucial in the manufacturing sector, as accurate positioning systems are very much needed to keep production consistent. One instance in which this applies is when individual parts are automatically measured before the cutting or grinding steps in the machining process. This ensures that precise cuts are made to the component before it moves onto the next stage of production.
- Earth sciences. Another interesting set of scientific disciplines where automated measurement makes a significant impact is the set of earth sciences. For example, in the field of geophysics, automated analysis of images taken from buoyant, non-stationary cameras is able to quantify the percentage of sea surface covered by whitecaps. A similar analysis can be used to assess the structures of the earth’s natural granular material, or sediments.
Automated measurements works very well in favor of these industries and many others besides. The technology is now much more accessible, scalable, and affordable than it was before the turn of the millennium. This could only mean greater measures of success and foreseeable returns on investment for fast-growing, fast-modernizing labs.