By Jim Romeo
Hexagon Metrology offers a complete Enterprise Metrology Solution (EMS) suite of software and hardware. One of the EMS solutions is PC-DMIS Planner, which allows the CAD designer to convert design intent into an inspection plan regardless of measurement device. PC-DMIS, the EMS flagship software, supports a wide array of measurement devices. The software can import the inspection plan from PC-DMIS Planner and automatically create an efficient, collision free part program. The results can be sent automatically to DataPage+, a statistical process control (SPC) software within EMS with statistical analysis tools and graphical reports. Finally, Web Reporter allows users to view those statistical reports on the web without proprietary software or extensive training.
Joe Zink works with Hexagon Metrology for its CAD and dimensional reporting products and specifically PC-DMIS Planner. We spoke to him to understand the application.
PC-DMIS Planner can convert designs into inspection plans.
DE: Can you explain how your product is used by Chrysler?
Joe Zink: Chrysler has written an in-house software package called eTool. It resides as a module inside their Unigraphics CAD software system. It outputs an inspection plan, just like PC-DMIS Planner, in the same inspection plan file format. PC-DMIS can import this file and automatically create a part program. The inspection plan philosophy allows the engineer to manage only one measurement routine per product as PC-DMIS automatically accounts for the specific hardware platform when the plan is imported. This means the same inspection routine will run on virtually any device with minimal operator input.
DE: How can designers to test and assess their products?
Joe Zink: One of the highlights of PC-DMIS Planner is that it reads in the CAD file directly, displays the part geometry, and shows the Geometric Dimension and Tolerancing (GD&T) notes added by the designer to indicate the critical dimensions and their tolerance values. PC-DMIS Planner is very intuitive and easy to operate. The user just clicks on a GD&T note, and the commands defining the datums, features, and dimensions for that note are automatically added to the inspection plan. This simple step removes any ambiguity in the interpretation of the GD&T note. The user can add all dimensions indicated by all of the GD&T notes on the CAD model by clicking just one icon, or selecting one menu item.
DE: What is the relationship between Hexagon’s product and other proprietary engineering software?
Joe Zink: We have licensing partnerships with all the major CAD software companies. PC-DMIS and PC-DMIS Planner directly access CAD data from CATIA, Pro/Engineer, SolidWorks and Unigraphics through a Direct CAD Interface. Additionally, both products come standard with the ability to import data in a variety of generic CAD file formats; including, DXF, IGES, JT and STEP to name a few. Both products are very CAD-centric.
DE: Do you see any trends in engineering design software?
Joe Zink: The EMS strategy is a trendsetting approach to software development with its big picture focus on design-to-quality solutions. NIST is in the process of creating an industry standard that in many ways mimics the EMS strategy. It is called the Quality Information Frameworks (QIF). Specific standards will be derived from QIF’s umbrella of capabilities. One of these standards will be called QMplans, and its purpose is to define the flow of information from design to quality. For example, this will allow a product like PC-DMIS Planner to create an inspection plan in an industry standard format, so that any measurement software that subscribes to this standard will be able to read the plan. Hexagon Metrology is an active participant in the development of this standard.