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Why Automate Measurement Data Collection?

May 24, 2023

If you don’t collect measurement data when performing quality-control (QC) checks on parts, the measurement process will not be documented or traceable, and further analysis won’t be possible. As measurement data collection is a critical step to ensure parts meet specifications, the question is really, “How will you collect data?”

When entering data from handheld gauges into a computer, manual transcription errors can negatively affect data quality and part integrity. Precision measurement data acquisition and collection for QC applications significantly benefit from automated wireless and mobile retrieval. Wireless data collection software working with wireless electronic gauges can increase productivity, reduce errors and provide full documentation.

Wireless measurement data collection systems should be complete, scalable, secure and robust. Automation benefits include ease of operation, streamlined scalability, robust data encryption and protection, unrestricted distances and unencumbered use for transmission. Using the latest wireless networking technology enables much faster speed, greater bandwidth and longer range for higher data throughput. Compatibility with a wide range of tools and brands is also helpful.

Modular systems make it simple to expand or contract QC data collection processes. Data is transmitted from wireless gauges and is operable on Android and IOS mobile platforms, as well as Windows-based computers, thin client PCs and servers. Repeater and bridge components can connect directly to PLCs and other high-speed automation equipment for real-time data collection or remote machine operation. The latest systems are extremely adaptable, including 100% measurement of all parts in highly regulated industries.

Scalability enables manufacturers to set up data collection systems ranging from simple to extended enterprise layouts. A simple “portable scheme” features a wireless app running on a mobile device. This setup can have one wireless measuring tool with an embedded radio transmitting data up to 30 feet [9.1 m] to a mobile device. A portable scheme may have five to eight measuring tools that connect to the mobile app for similar capabilities. Users can easily transmit measurement at that distance from wireless tools to a laptop or PC with a USB port.

In a typical scheme, a device may be running the measuring data collection system to support 20 measuring tools at up to 200 feet [61 m]. In a large factory, 20 measuring tools can use a bridge and remote gateway to expand transmission to hundreds of feet or yards. In an enterprise scheme, measurement data transmission can be increased to over a mile. With remote gateways, bridges and repeaters can incorporate 100+ measuring tools.

Robust data encryption and protection is critical. While QC measurement data by itself might not be valuable, cybercriminals can still spoof networks to transmit QC data to gain general access to digital infrastructure.

Measurement data collection systems address this in a variety of ways, including highly secure wireless platforms. Transported data is encrypted using a multi-layered approach that prevents any outside access. And mobile apps don’t connect to a device’s OS, restricting unintended access at a critical point.

Using gauges with internal wireless measurement is very efficient. For those without such capability, backpack radios can expand functionality.

Rechargeable measurement tools eliminate battery replacement and associated costs. In harsh shop environments, wireless electronic measurement tools with IP67-level protection ensure accuracy and maintain functionality.

Supplier knowledge, service and support are key when choosing a measurement wireless data collection system. A deep level of experience combined with expertise in QC will go far in establishing a successful implementation.

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Tim Cucchi