When customers come to the experts at AIMS Metrology for their inspection and measurement requirements, they can count on one thing: The solution will be a team effort.
“We attack every project as a team,” said Mark Gearding, vice president and co-owner of AIMS. “It’s not just one person. We have a cross-trained group of engineers, programmers, and service technicians able to meet a customer’s CMM needs from design-build to aftermarket support.”
AIMS Metrology does this by offering quality machines with a history of making the precise measurements expected by each and every customer.
Equipped for Renishaw technology
AIMS is an original equipment manufacturer that designs and produces its own 5-axis Revolution Series CMM line — the mobile shop floor HB, the lab-grade LM, and its newest multisensor Summit 10.10.10 — in house. Its CMMs have been engineered around Renishaw technology. This includes probe heads, touch probes, scanning probes, incremental encoder scale systems, change racks, styli, MODUS software, and more. AIMS is also ISO/IEC 17025:2005 certified by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.
“With different applications and requirements from different customers, we really look at each opportunity with our engineering group,” Gearding said. “In many cases, if not all, customers who come to us for measurement, no matter what that feature or characteristic requirement is, we run it through the engineering group. Then we invite that customer into our facility for a product demonstration.”
A customer will bring a part or a print to AIMS, where the company would use one of its 5-axis Revolution machines to inspect the features, according to Gearding.
“We show them the capabilities of our machines using the Renishaw probe head — that’s either a 3-axis scanning head or a 5-axis scanning head — that allows us to get down, in some cases, where it’s very difficult if not impossible for other CMM manufacturers to get into,” he said. “We treat every opportunity that way.”
The Equator 300
Beyond the CMM machines offered by AIMS, the company also produces a mobile device called the Equator 300, according to Gearding.
“An operator can pick this up and move it from station to station or from plant to plant even,” he said. “It is a comparative device like a gauge. It gives the customer, the end user, the ability to measure, in this case gears, very quickly. Cycle time can be an issue for customers, and the Equator gives that customer that requirement or the need for throughput.”
The Equator can also cut the cost of scrapping parts. Its high speed enables operators to move from ordinary sample inspection to inspecting 100 percent of all the parts. It can also quickly switch between parts with short cycle time, which improves process capability.
AIMS is capable of supplying a customer’s every measuring need; all a customer needs to have is a part, even if it’s just a 3D representation, according to Gearding.
“What we require from the customer is a part print highlighting the features that are required to be inspected,” he said. “Then we come up with what is the best solution. We bring the customer to our facility to view that part being measured on the predetermined technology that we feel is the best solution for their application.”
The Summit 10.10.10
Not only can AIMS meet a customer’s measuring needs, but it does so with equipment manufactured and supported locally, according to Gearding, including the recent development of its Summit 10.10.10 machine.
“The Summit machine gives a large measuring divide, which transmission cases require,” he said. “This shop floor CMM is measuring a volume of a meter by meter by meter. With that, we’re able to measure the transmission cases for various gear characteristics. But we’re able to use the REVO 5-axis scanning head, which gives us multisensors like the RVP — a video probe that can satisfy some of the gear characteristics.”
Gearding emphasized there’s no machine like the Summit in development.
“There’s no other machine out in the industry like it with the capabilities of the measuring bite of that meter-cubed, as well as the utilization of the REVO technology that takes us into that arena for the gear and spline requirements,” he said.
Expanding and evolving
AIMS has been in business for more than 12 years. In that time, the company has expanded and evolved, according to Gearding.
“We sell a lot of our machines through distribution channels,” he said. “We have some strong distribution channels up on the East Coast and down South and now here in the Central region. We grew the company in earnest, as well as through applications and our engineering group.”
In particular, Gearding is especially proud of the relationship it has developed with Honda.
“We have several machines at the Honda transmission plant, and they use those to measure the transmissions, the gear features, with either the Summit machine or the lab machine,” he said. “They use the REVO technology when it comes to that measurement. So, we’re there in the transmission plants.”
A large part of AIMS’ success lies with the company’s MODUS software, the CMM software that is used on every AIMS machine, according to Gearding.
The MODUS platform supports AIMS’ Revolution CMM line and its 5-axis measurement capabilities. A configurable user interface allows native DMIS programs to be developed offline; the drawing of geometry; embedded dimensions; and tolerance data from CAD, feature construction, and part alignment. It includes full support for I++DME compliant metrology controllers — including Renishaw’s UCC range of universal CMM controllers, CAD-driven offline programming with on-screen probe path verification, high integration with CATIA® (versions 4 and 5), Siemens® NX™, Pro/E®, and Solidworks® CAD/CAM solutions.
“The MODUS gear package is constantly being developed,” Gearding said. “MODUS is utilizing the Dontyne feature for its modules. So, we feel like the development of MODUS, using the Dontyne modules, is advantageous when it comes to gear characteristics or features.”
Looking to the future
As the industry grows and expands into other areas, particularly electric vehicles, Gearding expects the inspection of gears to become an even larger part of what AIMS has to offer.
“I think as the software is further developed and the sensors are brought out to be supported by the REVO, I just see that part of the business growing,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about it, especially the further development and the utilization of Dontyne software when it comes to MODUS.”
Gearding considers AIMS to be a small business, but a business that has the potential to offer many advantages to its customers.
“We have a good core of engineers on staff,” he said. “We just acquired a group that extends our service footprint, although our focus has always been: Whatever we sell, we support to the highest level. In many cases, no matter what the application is, if it’s a turnkey with customers, you’re seeing more and more of those requirements because companies are lacking individuals with those skill sets.”
Simply put, AIMS Metrology can offer a total package, according to Gearding.
“We provide the programs with the machines to measure a manufacturer’s parts, as well as the tooling to support those parts on our machines,” he said. “And now we’re taking it to an even higher level, and that is through automation. Our machines are now at that level at a variety of different corporations.”