Metrology is the science of weights and measures, determination of conformance to specification or technical requirements, and development of standards. And it is of high importance in the automotive sector. Accurate measurement and alignment of components and parts ensure the reliable performance of a vehicle, and this measurement is now carried out digitally with the help of coordinate measuring machines.
FARO Business Technologies India Pvt Ltd develops and markets portable measuring machines and 3D imaging devices to solve dimensional metrology problems for various industries. In an interaction with Amrita Gokhale, Senior Marketing Specialist, FARO Business Technologies India Pvt Ltd, we learn of the company's offerings, growth plans and development, among other areas of business. The key differentiator of FARO's products when compared to competition is the high level of portability of its measurement devices, Gokhale said.
FARO's business is divided into metrology and 3D documentation. While metrology has abundant use in the automotive sector, the 3D documentation vertical mainly has its adoption in the piping industry and for use in forensics. Under the metrology vertical, FARO has three products – FaroArm, FARO Gage and FARO Laser Tracker – which find good usage in automotive and ancillary manufacturers.
FARO accounts automotive as the leading industry for its business in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, and puts that number at 80 % in India. Within the automotive industry, FARO caters to OEMs and component manufacturers at an equal proportion, and works with all segments within the industry. The machine tool industry is the second largest area of business for the company.
The main USP of the FaroArm family is in the form of ergonomics that it provides to users, with machines with six-axis and seven-axis arms. While the six-axis arm is identical to a human arm, the seven-axis arm performs even more functions, with better reach to all spectrums of measurement. Gokhale said the accuracy with repeated measurement of the same component or part is much higher on FARO's products than that of the competition.
FARO Arm products are used by OEMs in the first article inspection, which includes inspection of the entire vehicle for purposes like alignment and fitment. Meanwhile, the FARO Gage is a touch probe machine that is used to measure smaller parts and components accurately, with a high level of mobility.
The most recently-launched product from the company is the latest version of the FARO Edge ScanArm HD, which is the latest addition to the flagship FaroArm product line. The FARO Edge ScanArm HD combines the power of the laser line probe with the flexibility of the FaroArm, and was developed with the end-user in mind, Gokhale noted. The contact/ non-contact device also supports rapid point cloud collection with high resolution and accuracy. It features an extra wide scan stripe that increases scanning coverage, in addition to a new blue laser that offers noise reduction.
The major advantage of this 3D system is that unlike 2D devices, this machine can be taken to the components for measurement, making it highly portable. This leads to reduced time involved in measuring components, which in turn cuts the labour time involved. Customers have noted that measurement times have reduced by almost 50 %, which also means the time to recoup investments have gone down, Gokhale said.
FARO carries out R&D for the APAC region through its headquarters in Singapore, with assistance from its global headquarters in the US. The Singapore centre carries out development work with regards to the Arm, Gage and Laser Tracker, while the US facility undertakes the R&D work of the laser scanner. Gokhale said that FARO carries out country-specific development of products and technologies, even though it has two major facilities that take care of R&D. Although FARO invests a large amount of revenues into R&D, Gokhale could not provide an exact number on the same.
FARO manufactures its products at its manufacturing facility in Florida, US, and exports it to markets across the globe. All the hardware and software of its complete product portfolio are developed internally by the company. Gokhale said FARO has recorded a growth of 25 % year-on-year for its automotive business in the APAC region but the current year growth is at about 15 %, owing to the global impact on the industry.
In the Indian automotive sector, FARO continues to grow, mainly as a result of the after-sales services that it provides. These are the same teams that gather feedback from customers on the required products and developments, which are then transferred to the company's R&D teams. She added that the company is looking to focus more towards the needs of the machine tool industry, in order to diversify its business in the country.
FARO also believes that the ship-building and energy industries will begin to see growth in the next five years or so, as a result of the Make in India initiative. The other sectors that FARO India is looking to tap into include the medical and infrastructure industries. However, Gokhale believes that the automotive sector will be the driving force of development and business for FARO India, just as it is globally.
Text: Naveen Arul