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Renishaw: Production of accurate components will promote low-carbon cars

Helen Zhang From Gasgoo.com| July 15 , 2010

On 24th, June, the UK business UK sophisticated high-end engineering industry forum, which was organized by UK Trade & investment Department (UKTI) was held in Shanghai. Gasgoo.com interviewed the assistant of the CEO of Renishaw Public Limited Company, Ben Taylor, who talked with us about the application of Renishaw's technology in the Chinese enterprises and the application of accurate measurement technology in the auto industry.

Gasgoo. Com: You have many technologies in many industries, so we'd like to know that what kind of industries or what level of customers are you going to cooperate with them?

Ben Taylor: Because of the nature of our products, which in many cases are helping manufacturing, it turns out that any body, any company that is involved in manufacturing probably uses Renishaw products. It could be aerospace, but it might actually be some body-machining health care parts, like knee joints, so anything associated with metal cutting, Renishaw usually is involved in supplying a measurement solution.
For that element of our business, it's associated with automotive, it could be that we are involved in the metrology measurement part of machining the components, but we also make devices that get mounted to the machines, that might be involved in the assembly of the car, because they are using the feedbacks to improve robots, or assembling systems. So it is not only components, some cases is in machines themselves use our feedback censors for motion control.

Gasgoo. Com: You major product, touch trigger probe, compared with the similar products, which are the competitive edge?

Ben Taylor: The original product, that was developed many years ago, it was the only touch trigger probe, so the competitive edge was we had patent surrounding it, so no body else could make it. So for 20 years, 25 years, we are the only person in the world, and we have 100% of the market worldwide.
Now since the patent expired, we do have some competition, they are making copies of our product, but we believe that we have learned how to make them, so they are very reliable, and they have a very long life. So even though there's no patent, the touch trigger probe, we are by far the largest manufacturer and we have very few competitors that have actually entered the market and I believe if you are going to measure the part, and the devices are going to touch it to take the data, you will want it to be the most reliable and we have the reputation as the most reliable producer of touch trigger probe in the world.
I'd like to add one more thing, the original technology, the design of touch trigger probe, we continue to sell that one, but we now have touch trigger probe that have strain gauge sensors, so they are much more accurate than the early design. We also have probing that can be easily, automatically swapped out or changed on the machines so one could have long stylet for deep hole, and then it could be changed to one with short stylets for more accurate mensuration in the shallow holes. So we not only sell the initial technologies, we now sell new and much more advanced technologies, but it still operates as a touch trigger probe, it just has a different sensing system inside.

Gasgoo. Com: Renishaw entered the Chinese market in 1994 and you have built your procurement team in 2008, what do you think the level of development in the technology in China?

Ben Taylor: The majority of our development is still done in the UK, what we want to learn, and is very critical that we do this is understanding the applications that are leading to be solved within our Chinese customers, so this is why we have 60 people now, supporting our products to learn from the customers what is required and work closely with them. And China now is our biggest market from many of our product lines now, it is our biggest market for probing on CMM, biggest market from machine to probing, for many years, it has been our biggest country for calibration products, the most accurate product that we sell is Laser Interferometer. China has been our biggest market for over five years now. So it has been extremely important and we work with the application engineers in China to make sure that we are able to support the requirement of your market.

Gasgoo. Com: What are you advices for the suppliers in China?

Ben Taylor: What we have seen is a rapid increase in both the technology and the quality of the products. I believe it is important that continues and that the development and researches in China are now we have seen actually developing the next generation as well, so as long as they continue to improve the quality and then become the developer of the advanced technology, which is happening now, I believe they are already taking the crack steps and of course we would like to see them using Renishaw's products to assure the quality of the products that they are manufacturing and also use the development of the technologies that will be introduced in the future.

Gasgoo. Com: I'd like to know your plan in China and also after operating in China for dozens of years, what are the key to success in doing business in China or successful cooperation with Chinese entrepreneurs?

Ben Taylor: I think when we started in the market, we learned we needed to be very patient that we had to develop the relationship with customers, quite of them needing or wanting to be involved with our products. First, you have to develop the relationships. Secondly, we need to be assured that we have broad coverage all around China, because it was impossible to support all of China from any one location. So we have set up multiple offices because regionally, it appears that the companies in certain regions might act differently than a company in another region. So we require much broader coverage, and we have to give very good service as well, including repair, so we have to build up not only the selling team and the support application team, but also being able to calibrate and to repair products. So we have to bring everything to China that any market needs, but mostly, you have to start off with developing relationships, and having great products.

Gasgoo. Com: As a leading technology company, what do you think are the driving forces for your continuous innovation?

Ben Taylor: Since the start of the company, the driving forces have been our chairman, Sir David McMurtry. He is still an active chairman, he is 70 years old, but he still everyday at work, everyday driving us and he has developed below him, a team of people who are driven for technological solutions. We enjoy, even if he didn't make money, he would do it anyway, because he is driven for the best way to be able to control processes like manufacturing, developing health care products like a robot for a brain surgery.
It really is an inner drive that our chairman and now many more people within the company have and we are willing to spend a lot of money to develop these products. So if we are trying to do things on little money, people will get tired, but by willing to invest and invest, sometimes, it takes 15 years to develop a product, but if we believe in it, we do it. As a result, we get products like new Revo head that I showed on my presentation, to be able to do high speed measurement. So really is a love of our chairman that have now been spread throughout our organization for technical advancement.

Gasgoo. Com: Could you talk something about your cooperation with automotive companies in China?

Ben Taylor: As you might know that the requirement to be able to produce and develop cars in China is now becoming stronger and stronger. We are working directly with the machine tool builders that supplying the machine tools in the China automotive industries to understand how to most accurately make parts for the requirements of the company. So we are working directly not only with the car companies themselves, production company, we are working with suppliers of their systems, so we believe that we are trying to do balance both.
We are also working with the car companies to understand how to measure the parts after production. So we are supplying and understanding the products like the Revo, that can very accurately measure a component in a car called a valve guide and valve seat for the exhaust belt and intake belt, so we are working directly with them to have them understand our technology, have us understand their requirements and then apply applications together, solutions and examplications. That's very important for Renishaw.

Gasgoo. Com: How can the pursuit of accuracy change people's live?

Ben Taylor: If you look at automotive applications, more accurate production of components can result in a more fuel efficient engine, an engine that pollutes less and an engine that lasts longer. So it could very well be if you can control the process, you can enjoy three, that is, what every car company is seeking and that is: more efficient, less polluting and a long life engine and accuracy can turn that application is a big contribution.
But I have to add this as well, if I am making a component that has a tolerance on a feature, you know, the allowable deviation in size, let's say that the allowance in terms of deviation. If I can measure it to a tiny little uncertainty, that I can be more assured of it falling into correct tolerance of the measurement, but the uncertainty measurement is too big that it is very difficult to hold the tolerance. So it is important that the accuracy might be ten times more accurate to measure than you mean in terms of tolerance. So this is why measurement should get tiny in terms of uncertainty, so you can give the most effect of tolerance.

Gasgoo. Com: What do you think of the trend of metrology in the 21st century?

Ben Taylor: I think one of the trends we believe we contributed to is high speed measurement with high degree of accuracy. So things like blisks, which are used in jet engines, one of those rotating devices, we can now measure those with a very accurate understanding of validating and treating the engine blisks prudently, we can now measure that. We have now one customer once taking 27 hours to measure a complete blisk. We can do it in two and a half hours, so tremendous improvement in speed with high degree of accuracy, in some cases, the high speed way is more accurate.

Gasgoo. Com: Do you think that high speed measurement is a future trend?

Ben Taylor: Yes, accurate high speed measurement.
So you don't just simply inspect one at a hundred, you might be able to measure 25 at a hundred depending on the fraction rating. In that way, you can better control your processes.
Now these aero-engine parts I mentioned , they have to do 100% inspection, so they can reduce the inspection time from 25,26 hours to two and a half hours, they need a lot less machines, a lot less people to do the inspection. So it is a big cost saving, and you got more accurate data.


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