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Meta achieve 'Millennium Product' status
Meta achieve "Millennium Product" status
Keywords Laser, Welding
The Laser Probe has been selected as a Millennium Product. This is a laser-based seam tracking device for welding machines developed by Didcot-based Meta Technology. It is also on the short list to be exhibited in the Millennium Dome.
The idea behind Millennium Products was best summed up by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, when he said "I believe it is time to show a fresh face to the world and reshape Britain as one of the 21st century's most forward-thinking and modern nations. I challenge companies to demonstrate that the UK can lead the world by creating products and services that exemplify our strengths in innovation, creativity and design."
Products selected come from such household names as BT with Touchpoint, Rolls- Royce with the Trent Engine and Matt MacDonald with the Lantau Link from Hong Kong Island to the new airport. The Link is the world's largest combined rail and road crossing.
To be amongst such august company is heady times indeed for Meta Technology with just ten employees.
But as Mike Wilson, managing director of Meta says "The definition we were given for a Millennium Product was that it is pioneering in its field, forward thinking and challenging; creative and innovative. Laser Probe is all of that; that's why we entered."
The principle behind Laser Probe is simple. A compact sensor head illuminates the seam via a laser stripe. The head also contains a CCD camera which views the stripe and the image is converted, by sophisticated software, into corrections to keep the weld torch correctly positioned centrally over the weld. A filter, located in front of the camera, excludes the weld arc and therefore the sensor can be mounted close to the weld torch.
Once set-up, the system is "transparent" to the operator. In other words he does nothing between assemblies other than start the welding machine. As long as the seam is positioned within the laser stripe at the start, the system will maintain the torch centrally and at the correct height over the seam throughout the welding process.
This not only corrects for deviations in component location but also will accommodate distortion during the weld process. Thereby ensuring the weld is correctly located every time.
As well as being a technically robust solution, the product is highly cost-effective. Its economic viability played an important role in the submission. This was confirmed by Andrew Summers, chief executive of the Design Council which administered the awards. He said "One decisive factor in the Meta Laser Probe being selected as a Millennium Product was that it is not technology for technology's sake. An important element of the submission was the fact that productivity gains achieved have resulted in a pay back on capital investment within 12 months."
The benefits of Laser Probe have been taken on board much faster in mainland Europe than the UK. Last year exports accounted for 94 per cent of sales, with Germany taking a dominant 45 per cent.
Commenting on this, Mike Wilson said "German industry has always been willing to invest into the best equipment to improve productivity. Being nominated as a Millennium Product will help us get this message across to UK industry."
For further details contact Mike Wilson - Managing Director, Meta Technology Limited, 10 Harrier Park, Southmead Industrial Estate, Didcot, Oxon OX1 17PL. Tel: +44 (0)1235 512215; Fax: +44 (0)1235 512115.