Equator training at Renishaw, 04-10.02.2018

My job is not thrilling for the most of the time, but it can sometimes be the best one. It can offer you some opportunities that you simply cannot miss. Our laboratory, Laboratory of Robotics, University in Ljubljana, is involed in a project where the main idea is to develop a completely automated measuring cell used in an industrial environment. I must admit that we had to lower our goals, but we are nevertheless trying to use the latest technology that is available in 2018. Of course, without robots nothing can happen, even in the measuring field. To enable high resolution measurement we have chosen a measurement robot...eeee, wrong! It's a parallel robot called Equator that has a measuring probe attached to its end. It is not an absolute measuring machine, but it works as a comparator, so we need a part called primary or golden part, previously measured with some other absolute measuring systems. Equator is produced by the Renishaw company. The Slovenian company called Kolektor, the main player in this project, bought an Equator and some degree of knowledge needs to be obtained to operate it properly, so we took a one week training course. The training took place in the New Mills near Bristol, England, UK, where Renishaw headquarters are located. The training allowed 4 people to train at a time, so we filled all available places. Let's take a journey through this week where we shall see that pleasure is also an important part of work and business.
Parallel robot Equator with a touch probe attached to its end is not an absolute measuring machine, but it works as a comparator. This means that we first need to have a production piece that is measured. Ok, 4 possibilities are offered to master the robot, but it is not the intention of this blog to go into details.  Where is Bristol or should I say the headquarters of Renishaw? In New Mills, a 45-minute drive from Bristol. We had training there, but the hotel was in a really small village/town named Chipping Sodbury.  Our journey started with a drive to the Marco Polo Venice airport, where the crew of four (Aleš, Neven, Dejan and me, Jure) waited for a flight to the main Frankfurt airport.  We were on an Airbus 320-200. I must admit that it is quite a small plane.  The takeoff from Venice airport. Smooth!  The takeoff was fine, but it got quite loud since I was seated near the motor.  In just a few seconds the islands of Venice showed up.  We must admit that the UK is famous for its beers, so we started tasting at the beginning of our flight to Frankfurt airport. After the whole week experience... German beer is crap. :)  A person who likes mountains and skiing I had quite a problem observing the Alps from the flight altitude. So much spaaaace!  The romance of the Alps went by too quickly.  Just before Frankfurt the weather went from good to worse.  But under the clouds there was a scene of almost no snow, so I really don't know why we had an hour delay from Venice?! It was told to us that it is becasue of a snow storm in Frankfurt.  Frankfurt solid ground.The landing was perfect!  Aha, can you see the end of the hall? These parts of the airport can be really interesting when some people need to catch the connecting flight. Like the guy on the left.  In Frankfurt airport we had time to look around. We stayed here for almost three hours. 
Is this an airplane? It's so small! :) Yes, it's our plain to Bristol, the Embraer ERJ135.  I should lose some weight. :) Even buses have four seats in each row.  Once again it was proven that size doesn't matter. The beer was much better on this plane than on the Airbus.  Over the seas.  Just before the landing procedure at Bristol airport we were above this "mlakuža" in Slovene language (mla-'kooh-zhah).  Landing in Bristol airport was not as good as in Frankfurt. We had quite a bit of turbulence, but the pilot seemed to have everything under control. From the Bristol airport a taxi drove us through the center of Bristol. This picture was taken before we arrived at the center.  From the Bristol airport we were heading towards Chipping Sodbury near Bristol. These guys are really driving on the wrong side! :)  At Chipping Sodbury we were booked in a hotel named Moda house. Don't worry, this picture shows a pub named The Horseshoe, just across the steet from our hotel.  The main street of this lovely town Chipping Sodbury.  Double room in an antique style (or not?!).  Bathroom. First evening when we came back to the hotel after grabbing a few beers there was no hot water. Brrr...  "Working place".  The tea section of the room. I must admit that they were all positively fantastic.  After settling in at the hotel we went to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It's not a pub, so we drank beer from the bottle. I had some meat strips with a lot of vegetables. Nice place and just like everything else in Chipping Sodbury it is not far. Just a few minutes from the Moda house hotel.  After the Mexican restaurant we went to the Horseshoe pub to taste some local beers. Beers at local pubs are without any additives, so they last only a few days and it's almost impossible to get it with the same taste the following day or in a few days. 
Monday morning in front of the hotel with a view on the Chipping Sodbury main street. I really like this street.  As proof that we were staying at the Moda house I took a picture of the sign attached to the wall outside the hotel.  Nice hotel. Warm, cozy...about the prices...we wouldn't know.  :)  Nick, our driver for Monday morning, was late, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures.  Just a picture.  Oh, another one. :)  Good beer.  This picture of the Horseshoe pub is beter than the other from last evening.  Monday morning, and almost all of others mornings, we had a drive to the training location at Renishaw headquarters in New Mills. Yes, in the Jaguar. Each day I was sitting shotgun and I must admit that after a few days you get used to driving on the left side of the road. In the background we can see the initial Renishaw building and it is from year 1730, plus minus few years.  We started the Equator training at 9.00 and after we had lunch with a traditional English meal. It's ok for English cuisine. Delete Pepsi from the memory.  After lunch the tutor Robin took us for a walk where we spot this monument on the top of a hill. It is somehow related to the travelling around these places a few centuries ago when this part of the country was known by trading, expecially Bristol.  The main Renishaw building was built in cca. 1730 and is still used today. It is so old that when the wind picks up it's quite impossible to be on the top floor becuse everthing is moving. We hadn't tried it, but there must some truth, a?  Spring is in town. Not quite...  I am really sorry for not having any pictures from the training (yet), but we didn't have time. After the training I went for a jog nearby the hotel to search for secret places of this lovely English countryside.  Classic red-brick neighbourhood. Maybe it can get boring after a while?! 
Ok, after 8 km of running I am back and ready to go to the nearest Italian restaurant. It is really far from the Moda house hotel, 15 seconds. We chose pizzas, lasagnas, macaroni and their "traditional" beer. Hm...  It is still working!  On the only street of Chipping Sodbury there are 6 different pubs and we needed to check as many as possible. Of, course not all in one night. The pubs are an oldfashined type of Facebook Messenger where people meet and share information. It's a far better solution than internet!  Nice place. With a vast selection of local beers. The bartender was a young chap and he sang and danced all the time.  The sign on the glass does not present the right beer. I am really lousy remembering names.  On Tuesday the locals were freaked out because during the night 0.1 mm of snow was on the floor, cars etc. They said that snowing is really rare in this area because the Atlantic ocean is so close and the country stops if there is a little bit of snow. In the meantime, my home received a parcel of at least 60 cm from Friday to Saturday and another 25 cm on Wednesday...  I managed to take a picture of our training class. In this room 5 Equators are available and each participant had their own Equator. The first two days we were learning and doing exercises to perform the initial and primary alignment of a piece to be measured inside the robot working space. I must admit that I had (still have) quite a problem distinguishing certain software functionalities because the terminology used in the Modus software is quite different from the terminology used in robotics, even if the Equator is a robot. But we are all making progress.  After lunch a walk around the Renishaw facility is mandatory and Robin (the tutor) took us to see this jet engine. Why a jet engine? The Renishaw company was founded by Sir David McMurtry and John Deer in 1973. They were both working for Rolls-Royce and at some time there was a need to measure fuel pipes on a prototype jet engine (in the picture). At that time, coordinate-measuring machine sensors featured a rigid stylus (probe), which required manual positioning on the surface and which yielded poor repeatability when measuring delicate components. To meet this need, McMurtry invented a touch-trigger probe device, which he then patented. The probe featured an elegant 'kinematic' location for a spring-loaded stylus, providing a highly repeatable seated position for the stylus combined with the compliance needed to measure such components. (from Wikipedia) Stylus is a touch probe attached to the end of an Equator or CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine).  After a really intense training session where Robin gave us 6 different exercices and after another jog, we decided to go for a drink and to eat something. We decided on a pub that we visited on Sunday evening, which also serves food.  On the menu we saw an offer to get 2 hamburgers for 20 pounds (or 14 pounds each if ordered separately). As engineers we quickly calculated that we can save money and money not spent for food can be spent for beer. The hamburgers were delicious. Once again beer was not Cornish as stated on the glass.  This week we did not have a holiday, as can be maybe seen from the pictures, but it was hard work at the Renishaw facility. From 8.30 to 16.30 with a lunch break. After the break Robin (the tutor) took us for a walk around the company to strech our legs. As you can see we had the experience of authentic English weather...  Nice, isn't it?  After the hard work we needed to relax and the proper meeting point was the Horseshoe pub (again) just across the street. Today besides Jamie (front left) also Nick joined us (rear left). Next to Nick is Neven, then Dejan, me and Aleš is taking this picture.  To check as many local beers we went to another pub where different beers are available.  Hm...what the hell is this? Aleš and Dejan ordered ribs, but the waitress didn't warn them that these ribs are so huge. 
What can I say? We are having a party. :)  This delicious dinner was taken in, guess, pub with really good steaks, fish and of course ribs. This pub is split in a pub and dinning area and two days ago we were having hamburgers in the other room.  We all couldn't believe that Aleš and Dejan managed those ribs.  Jamie Lord, really nice guy! Oh, Jamie, I am really sorry, Lord Jamie Lord! I am not kidding. He's a Lord!  The Germans would say: "Noch eine Runde."  The Renishaw showroom where almost everything that this company produces is on display.  Drilling through the skull and putting some probes into your brain...uf, it's hard to imagine.  3D printed titanium part of the face to reconstruct a biker's skull. Not a demo, the operation really happened!  The Equator in action in collaboration with an industrial robot serving a CNC machine.  Light lunch after yesterday's dinner.  This week's work place.  So, to illustrate what we were doing ... the Equator is a robot that performs contact measurements in regard to the known part dimensions. So, we need a golden (master) part or part measured on an absolute measuring machine (CMM) to be comapred with the production part. Ok, what does this means? The Equator is not an absolute mesuring machine, its just compares the values in regard to the golden part or part whose dimensions are known. And what's the benefit of using the Equator? It's light, it can be transferred to another room, it is fast, cheap etc.  Mr. Robin Palmer. He knows what he is doing!  Shopping time before we leave. It's not a huge shopping center, something like City Park in Ljubljana.  Ah, we are eating again. Yes, we definitely gained a few kilos. Today Jamie took us to one of two Indian restaurants on the Chipping Sodbury street. 
Yes, it's Indian.  Jamie is in his mood. Taking "sebeks". Jamie, you should write this word down, it's a selfie ('sae-beck). I must admit that this Indian food was really spicy, much more than I expected. And it kept burning the following day in the chamber where even the emperor goes on his own.  Aha, we are back at the meeting point bar (the Horseshoe), where also Nick joined us. At this point I need to say thanks to Jamie who arranged that I bought T-shirts with the Horseshoe pub logo printed on the front.  Even though I was full I needed to try the traditional English breakfast.  Picture for the Kolektor newspaper, taken on the last day, Friday. :)  Polonca Pagon, I can give you the original. :)  Our own test program. It's not much, but it's a start.  At 13.30 we took a taxi to the Bristol airport. The weather was really fine for this part of England.  Ok, nothing special about this picture. Just the mindf*** of driving on the left.  Good memories of Bristol, I had quite a hard time leaving it.  Is it this one? No, the other, the last one on the edge of the airport.  OK, we know that there is almost no space.  Over Bristol.  Toward Frankfurt the daylight was almost gone and the night was taking over.  From Frankfurt airport to Venice we took a flight with Airbus A321. Ok, the biggest plane out of four.  The last picture of this week. It was really nice to be at Renishaw and meet Jamie, Nick and of course our teacher Robin. I hope that we meet again some day. I know that I will be with Jamie on Monday becasue he is at an exhibition in Ljubljana. Really nice people to work with. I can say the same thing for Dejan, Neven and Aleš as well.