Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2011 (Revised September 2012)

Industrial Metrology: Getting In-Line? (A)

by Willy Shih

Abstract

Metrology plays a key role in the manufacture of mechanical components. Traditionally it is used extensively in a pre-process stage where a manufacturer does process planning, design, and ramp-up, and in post-process off-line inspection to establish proof of quality. The area that is seeing a lot of growth is the in-process stage of volume manufacturing, where feedback control can help ensure that parts are made to specification. The Industrial Metrology Group at Carl Zeiss AG had its traditional strength in high precision coordinate measuring machines, a universal measuring tool that had been widely used since its introduction in the mid-1970s. The market faced a complex diversification of competition as metrology manufacturers introduced new sensor and measurement technologies, and as some of their customers moved towards a different style of measurement mandating speed and integration with production systems. The case discusses the threat of new in-line metrology systems to the core business as well as the arising new opportunities.

Keywords: Transformation; Machinery and Machining; Measurement and Metrics; Product Design; Planning; Quality; Opportunities; Competitive Strategy; Diversification; Segmentation; Technology Adoption; Theory; Manufacturing Industry;

Citation:

Shih, Willy. "Industrial Metrology: Getting In-Line? (A)." Harvard Business School Case 612-004, July 2011. (Revised September 2012.)