If personnel shortages or financial issues prevent you from coming up with your own metrology solutions, your company can turn to specialized service companies instead. Dimension 3 is one such company, headquartered in the Roanne region near Lyon. Dimension 3 utilizes ROMER articulated arms both locally and internationally, offering its customers high-quality on-time service.
René Chapuis, who was in charge of dimensional accuracy at Giat Industries, used a ROMER arm for inspecting the interior of the Leclerc armored vehicle. This was in the late 1980s. The arm’s flexibility, its accuracy and the fact that it is easily moved around won Chapuis over, turning him into the arm’s chief user at Giat.
Years later, a government-sponsored start-up program for small and medium-sized businesses allowed Chapuis to make the leap into self-employment, founding Dimension 3. The basic reasoning behind his start-up was simple: lease a ROMER arm and offer the businesses in the area an option to subcontract metrology jobs.
As with all companies, the first few years were hard. Not only does one need to find customers – which is hard enough without a formal business education – but one also has to procure the measurement equipment. The change from being employed to being self-employed was also a challenge of its own. After several difficult months Chapuis was able to obtain an articulated arm under very good conditions, thus getting out of recurring monthly leasing payments. Regional trade shows, word of mouth and direct contacts to ROMER allowed Dimension 3 to gradually establish itself on the market. The first customers were the subcontractors to well-known companies who were already using ROMER arms, and who mandated that all their subcontractors also use the same metrology equipment to guarantee comparable results
By the end of year 2000, the Dimension 3 “one-man-show” was slowly but surely becoming well-known in the region. Then, a car accident forced Chapuis to hire an unemployed friend as a driver. Over the following months, the driver inadvertently received an informal practical education in metrology and started liking it. A large job for a subcontractor in the automotive business, lasting several weeks, enabled the “driver” to become a full-fledged member of the Dimension 3 metrology team. Nowadays, a total of three colleagues make up Chapuis’ team, and they work with five ROMER articulated arms. These arms have different measurement radii, thus letting Dimension 3 cover practically all kinds of metrology tasks and expand the scope of services offered by their company. G-Scan, G-Pad and G-Surf software are used as a reference, and a G-Scan scanner as well as a digital rail are used to broaden the measurement range, further expanding the list of available services.
“Our company conducts basic measurements, and we deliver raw data to our customers. We also cooperate with an engineering office in Lyon that performs data analysis for us, thus allowing us to offer our clients a complete service spectrum on a per-need basis,” explains Chapuis and continues: “The fact that Dimension 3 is a small, very specialized organization with just one type of measurement equipment that we have a perfect grasp of gives our customers a special kind of flexibility and quality.”
Giat Industries, called Groupe Nexter today, is still a very important customer for Chapuis, and various automotive manufacturers and their subcontractors have over time been added to the customer roster. Dimension 3 prides itself on having both “standard” and “big-name” customers in France and abroad, helping raise the firm’s profile.
Some of the measurement tasks undertaken by Chapuis over the years have included some spectacular jobs, such as inspecting the inside of the Ariane 5 rocket nozzles, working at a nuclear test facility, alignment jobs for the Korean high-speed trains and inspecting the pumps on oil platforms in Egypt!
“The arm’s flexibility and mobility allow for all kinds of measurements in many different settings, such as inspecting sheet metal, casting molds or finished parts in the automotive, aerospace, railroad and defense industries. Every customer is different, which makes our job very interesting and exciting,” adds Chapuis. “Performing jobs for manufacturers of model vehicles is surely one of the most interesting jobs we do. Often, we perform measurements on old-timers or on completely new models, whereby models on the scale of 1:43 are often done as the full-size vehicle is released to the market. When working with old-timers, we sometimes visit vehicle collectors all over Europe or visit museums.”
“A measurement job of an old Fiat 2300 owned by a Swiss winegrower was completed in just a couple of hours. We collect somewhere between 8000 and 12000 points. You have to concentrate on the size of the measurement object and inspect the exact contours of the vehicle. The manufacturer may then modify some minor details to accentuate them on the miniature model,” explains Chapuis.
The most common types of measurements performed by Dimension 3 are, for example, the measurements done when automotive manufacturers rent vehicles from their competitors to analyze them. Often, a potential customer for a ROMER articulated arm contacts Dimension 3 to learn more about the product before getting an arm of their own. Thanks to the contacts passed on by ROMER, Dimension 3 has been able to expand their operational radius from the 200 km in the beginning to an area that nowadays includes
most of France. Chapuis continues: “The fact that the ROMER arm is a French product is surely one of the criteria used by our customers in deciding which service company to hire. The product’s quality improves the positive image of our company and vice versa. With ROMER, we have a true partnership going on.”
Chapuis has been a passionate user of the French articulated arm for more than 12 years. His company can rise to practically any challenge in dimensional inspection. If asked about his company’s strengths, he’ll mention the time that he takes to attend to every customer: “You have to listen to the customer in order to offer the best measurement solution for his particular problem.” Full of confidence about the future, he concludes: “Our goal is to further expand our services with another measurement software in order to be able to fulfill the expectations of our customers even better. We are also thinking about utilizing other products from Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence that would give us an even larger measurement radius.”