The increased digitization in global supply chains as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of smart manufacturing and Internet of Things technologies over the past year.

Data is the lifeblood of efficient and effective Industry 4.0 manufacturing, as it is used to inform predictive maintenance, maximize production capacity, and even develop new products. Thus, ensuring that data is accurate, is vital for businesses to stay competitive in the global manufacturing arena.

Accurate data is the result of accurate sensors, gages, and other measurement instruments that collect data for analysis and interpretation to make smarter business decisions. With intelligence driving manufacturing gains and the slightest inefficiencies resulting in losses, never has high quality inspection, leveling, control and calibration equipment been in higher demand.

Data -- just like a chain -- is only as strong as its weakest link. And manufacturers’ ability to perform accurate measurements and consistently trust that data hinges on the metrology instruments themselves being calibrated to ensure the utmost precision.

In-house calibration leading to shorter downtimes

Fowler High Precision, which has led the North American equipment calibration industry for 75 years, has innovated with the times, via partnerships with global industry leaders such as Baty, Bowers, Sylvac, Trimos and Wyler as well as through constant in-house development of state-of-the-arts electronics that are consistently compatible with the latest Industry 4.0 technologies.

The global pandemic brought with it lockdowns and instituted social distancing norms that upended how manufacturers operate. Maintenance and calibration -- scheduled services that many producers subcontract out for -- now had to take into account local regulations and health concerns, resulting in more time spent, and subsequently, higher costs due to longer equipment downtime.

In response, Fowler innovated quickly, rolling out cost-competitive and easy-to-use precision tools and calibration service teams for in-house calibration. More calibration being carried out in-house resulted in both higher quality control and faster speed-to-market for Fowler customers, a significant differentiator in an increasingly competitive manufacturing market.

Adaptable to different manufacturer types

Manufacturers of all sizes and at different stages of the global supply chain have benefited from using Fowler’s metrology tools as they switch to in-house calibration.

German optoelectronic giant Carl Zeiss’s Industrial Measuring Technology division successfully reduced inspection times by two hours per coordinate measuring machine (CMM) with the help of Fowler Wyler 2D Level Sensors.

Ohio-based pneumatic cylinder manufacturer IMI Norgren saw significant savings after it switched from outside calibration services to in-house calibration using the Fowler Trimos horizontal setting device. Not only does IMI Norgren now save more than $24,000 a year in direct costs, but it has also reduced time taken for calibration from three weeks to just a single day.

In Iowa, agricultural planter and grain wagon producer Kinze Manufacturing has enjoyed massive time savings after switching from standard bore gaging equipment to the smaller and handy Fowler Bowers bore gage. The gage is also more flexible with three available heads, and special anvils for threads, splines and slots.

In England, metrology service provider Mech Metrology has improved certainty of measurement by 50% and increased their capacity for in-house calibration services with the help of the Fowler Trimos Horizon Premium Length Measuring Machine. In short, Mech Metrology -- a customer of Fowler’s British brand partner Bowers Group -- is getting much more work done in much less time.

Solid, repeatable production

A regularly calibrated machine ensures high repeatability, creating solid products and data, while reducing inaccuracies. These translate into high productivity and cost-effectiveness, and ultimately improved bottom lines for manufacturers.

Calibration is a necessary part of the manufacturing process, even more so now with the rise of Industry 4.0 technologies such as machine-to-machine, industrial Internet of Things, smart sensors, and artificial intelligence. Manufacturers have greater visibility of the entire supply chain now, but this visibility is contingent on the accuracy of ‘intelligence’ and measurements collected by their machinery.

An uncalibrated machine would simply result in defective products in the past, and a short immediate pain to profit margins. But now, an uncalibrated machine means defective data that would inform business decisions that will reverberate for years to come.

With in-house calibration tools now valued among manufacturers who want tighter process controls, the accuracy of measurement instruments and subsequent data validity can be ascertained quicker, cheaper and with minimal training and downtime.

About Fowler High Precision

Established in 1946, Fowler High Precision has been a leading source for precision tools and measuring instruments. From 6" rules to some of the most sophisticated electronic measuring instruments in the world, Fowler has solutions for most precision applications. Working closely with its precision partners: Bowers, Sylvac, Trimos, and zCAT, Fowler continually delivers cutting edge measurement technology to an ever-more-demanding marketplace.