Metrology System Manufacturer Grows Revenue 230% with Cobot-based Product Line
the short story
Automated metrology machines—which measure whether components are manufactured correctly—often require a high level of customization and integration. But that can lead to long development times and demanding support requirements, making it difficult for metrology systems companies to scale their business. 3D Infotech standardized its automated product line on UR cobots, and was able to quickly bring that line to market along with related UR+ products. Despite the drop in manufacturing CapEx purchases due to COVID-19, 3D Infotech saw “phenomenal” revenue growth of 230% through 2021. Rohit Khanna, president and CEO, credits his company’s metrology expertise and software along with the UR cobots’ ease of programming, safety and reliability, and worldwide technical support for the new products’ success. Khanna adds, “If we provide any component in our solution that is not performing up to the expectation of our customer, that makes us look bad. In the case of cobots from UR, they’ve actually helped us elevate our brand status.”
- Ability to standardize on family of UR cobots drives efficiencies and revenue
- Fast, easy programming speeds time to market
- Safe, easy integration simplifies metrology for customers with click-and-walk-away ease
- New products developed and launched within months
- 230% revenue growth driven by new cobot-automated products
- Customer hourly costs for metrology reduced by as much as 80%
- Inspection speeds increased by as much as 83%, with greater accuracy
- Complex inspection processes achieve higher accuracy and consistency
- Single system able to automatically inspect multiple parts/geometries
the business challenge
Video — See how 3D Infotech pivoted its business for dramatic growth by standardizing on UR cobots.
UR cobots and ecosystem provides many advantages for machine builders
3D Infotech had developed deep domain knowledge through custom metrology automation projects, but the approach wasn’t sustainable long-term. After extensively researching the market, 3D Infotech standardized its automated metrology product line on UR cobots.
“When we looked at lots of different options for robotics, we almost always had to make some kind of compromise in functionality that we would deliver to the user, because we weren’t able to get the full extent of the technical platform that we needed,” says Khanna. UR provided the ideal mix of functionality, ease of programming and use, safety, and all-around support that 3D Infotech needed.
Full automated metrology product line based on UR cobots drives customer results
3D Infotech’s Universal Metrology Automation (UMA) line is based on its Streamline quality assurance software and a platform of flexible, intuitive, and collaborative UR cobots. With the system, users can simply pick a part and a preset program that has the scan coverage of the entire part, and then press play and walk away. By standardizing on the family of UR cobots, all of which share the same underlying technology platform and APIs, 3D Infotech can easily deploy systems for a wide range of applications.
UR provided a level of robotic capabilities and technical support that 3D Infotech wasn’t able to find from other manufacturers. With this support, the company first became a UR certified systems integrator (CSI) deploying UR cobot-based systems for customers. Later, the company became a UR+ developer, creating its own products for the UR+ ecosystem of third-party hardware, software, and application kits that are certified to integrate seamlessly with UR cobots.
The flexibility of the UR cobots means that 3D Infotech customers don’t have to invest in a dedicated metrology machine that can only inspect one type of part, or perform one type of operation. The versatile robot can be easily programmed to position different kinds of sensors around a wide range of part geometries. And the UR robots’ IP54 rating allows them to be reliably deployed in a factory environment.
“When I look at other companies in the collaborative robot space, they’re not as mature as UR has become in terms of service centers,” says Khanna. “That’s really critical to all our customers.”
3D infotech director of engineering Michael Crowley demonstrates the UMA Smart Desktop based on a UR3e cobot.
3D Infotech’s Universal Metrology Automation (UMA) Smart Station uses a UR5e cobot, built-in rotary table, and Streamline software to make complex metrology applications easy and intuitive, even for operators without metrology expertise.
The UR cobots’ built-in collaborative safety features allow 3D Infotech to confidently mount highly complex and expensive sensors on the robot arm, without concerns of possible damage due to the robot.
UR10e-based metrology system for aerospace components can be deployed within the manufacturing environment for operator-free inspection.
What They Did
Video — See how 3D Infotech was able to quickly and cost-effectively develop a line of products based on UR cobots and the UR+ ecosystem.
Demand for reliable and repeatable results drive need for automation
The stringent and variable requirements of inspection meant that 3D Infotech needed an automation platform that provided both robustness and flexibility. The robots need to maneuver a wide range of sophisticated sensor technologies safely and accurately. Michael Crowley, 3D Infotech director of automation, says, “The collaborative nature of the UR robots allows us to put these expensive pieces of technology on the end of the arm, and have that confidence that the robot isn’t going to run into something and damage the end-of-arm tool. That peace of mind that we get—I don’t even have words for it. It’s incredible.”
Ease of programming speeds product development
The ease of development with the UR cobots was key to 3D Infotech’s fast success. “The programming documentation, as far as integrating with the APIs, was very comprehensive,” Crowley says. “But what I really like about the UR platform is that it’s so intuitive we could pick up the teach pendant and understand what we were doing with it without having to read the documentation.” The initial integration of core functionality of the UR robot into the 3D Infotech product took only about two weeks.
Simulator allows development team to deliver value more quickly and cost-effectively
The URSim offline simulator allowed the 3D Infotech developers to work with a virtual robot that behaves identically to actual robots. That helped them deliver value to customers more quickly and cost-effectively, since they didn’t have to purchase robots in order to work with the functionality. In fact, one of 3D Infotech’s new products was developed entirely on this simulator. Crowley says, “Going forward with UR robots allows us to keep our lead times down and our customer satisfaction up.”
Future plans and expanded business model with UR
By standardizing on UR cobots and URCaps, the company sees a clear path to continue to expand its business model beyond metrology to other types of quality assurance products using machine vision. Those applications may not require high-precision measurements, but may simply need to establish if a label is present, or a barcode reads the correct value. Crowley explains “Having the UR robots in our system means that instead of trying to build a new system from the ground up, it’s just as simple as swapping a scanner for a camera, and you’re off to the races. This has allowed us to grow our business into all of these different applications that machine vision has for us.”
GET STARTED TODAY
Cost-effective, safe and flexible collaborative robots - or cobots- are making automation easier than ever, even for the small and mid-sized companies.