Metronics Also Sells Other DRO Brands

June 22, 2010

2010 | June | From Metronics Digital Readout Systems

Metronics has always supplied the Digital Readout System that will do the right job for you. Not only have we supplied a choice of different Brands when you need a new DRO system, but we have always repaired linear encoders and digital readouts of both Metronics and other manufacturer’s DROs to extend the life of your current investment in measurement equipment.

But because excellence and an economical approach have been our company values from the start, we have always maintained that no matter which DRO you choose, in the end, installation methods are as important as the products themselves to prevent damage to the instruments in your workshop.

When you seek our advice we have always helped you with the question of, “How Do You Choose the Right DRO?”

Each DRO System has its own unique advantages. We know that choosing a DRO can be difficult, so in our endeavour to help our customers we usually offer a brief initial comparison of some of the differences – some of the pros and cons. While we try to be as impartial as we can, our interaction with our customers and their feedback has influenced us greatly.

By Leslie Zimmermann | Metronics Marketing

Head of Metronics: Klaus Zimmermann

Metronics Tel: 011 646-8738

Metronics Mobile: 083 268 6074

Visit us on our Website:

Servicing DROs – Does the fault lie with the counter or with the scale?

May 16, 2010

2010 | May | From Metronics Digital Readout Systems

Servicing DROs

When the Counter display indicates that an axis is not counting

One type of service call we get from customers is, “My DRO needs to be repaired. One of the axes has stopped counting on my Counter.”

When this happens, time and money money can be saved by first testing whether it is the Scale that is faulty or whether it is the Counter that is faulty? This simple test will help your DRO service team to bring the correct spares to your factory, saving unnecessary driving back and forth.

To determine where the error lies, move the faulty axis scale’s connector to an axis that’s working. If the error moves to the other axis on the counter, it means that the scale is faulty. If it doesn’t, it means that the counter is faulty.


You have a 3-AXIS Metronics DRO System comprising:




Error: The Counter display indicates that the Y-AXIS is not counting

Simple 6-step test to check whether the error lies with the Y-AXIS-SCALE or with the Counter:

Step 1. Remove the Y-AXIS-SCALE Connector from the Y-AXIS Port in the Counter (this is the axis where the error shows).

Step 2. Remove the X-AXIS-SCALE Connector from the X-AXIS Port in the Counter (this is an axis that’s working).

Step 3. Connect the Y-AXIS-SCALE Connector to the X-AXIS Port in the Counter.

Step 4. Now, move the Y-AXIS Slide.

Step 5. If the error now moves to the X-AXIS display on the counter, it means that the Scale is faulty (i.e. the Y-AXIS Scale is faulty).

Step 6. If the error does not move to the X-AXIS display on the counter (i.e. if the X-AXIS counts), it means that the Counter is faulty (and the Y-AXIS Scale is not faulty).

Saving you time and money

So, save travel time, downtime and money by giving your DRO service team the following information:

  • What make and model is the DRO System that needs to be repaired? For example, is it Metronics, Acurite, Heidenhain, Easson?
  • Is the Scale the same make as the Counter?
  • When an axis stops counting on the Display, have you performed the simple 6-step test to check whether it is the Scale that is faulty or the Counter that is faulty?

By Leslie Zimmermann | Metronics Marketing

Head of Metronics: Klaus Zimmermann

Metronics Tel: 011 646-8738

Metronics Mobile: 083 268 6074

Visit us on our website on:

Why Are Metronics DRO Systems in the Congo?

April 8, 2010

2010 | April | From Metronics Digital Readout Systems

Picture Mike. He lives in Johannesburg. He enjoys working with electronics and machines and he’s an innovative guy. He’s been building up his business of refurbishing machine tools over the past couple of years and it’s going well. Machines and their logic are Mike’s area of strength. He has a natural talent for critical analysis and technical problem-solving. He’s cool and logical when he’s on the job. Lately, his customers have also been asking him to repair and install Digital Readout Systems on their machine tools. He’s tried out a couple of different DRO systems.

Today’s technology has become so good that virtually any product in any given range is good. For this reason, it’s only natural that all the DRO agents claim that their product is the best. So, for the same reason, it’s also natural that Mike has tried a couple of different DRO systems – mainly going for the price. Yes, he’s been called in to replace some failed scanners and parts on different DRO systems. And some of his clients have been unhappy about the downtime this has caused – some of them really annoyed. But these are early days – he’s getting to know the various DRO brands.

But are all products equally good? Let’s have a look at a recent situation Mike was in.

The “Toast and Jam Effect” – a quick spike of energy and then … it’s gone … and another slice is needed

Mike has a friend, Harry, in the Congo. Recently Harry started his own business, operating out of a small workshop. He received an order from a large Congolese power-generating plant which required high-accuracy work from Harry. Because of this, he decided to install a DRO on his lathe to have consistency in quality. Harry organised the purchase of a DRO with a contact in Johannesburg. Going on price only, a cheap, but impressive-looking DRO was duly flown up and installed. After all… with today’s technology, any brand should basically be as good as the next.

But then, the “toast and jam” effect kicked in. At first, the DRO functioned well and production hummed. But, within a couple of weeks the scanning head failed. Work ground to a halt while a new scanning head was couriered to the Congo. Work resumed and Harry caught up with production. But a month later, the scanning head broke down again. This time, Harry agreed to have a technician fly up to the Congo from Johannesburg with a new Head – had he perhaps installed the DRO incorrectly he wondered? An expensive exercise later, all was well again. But in the process, Harry had got somewhat behind with the job, and the customer had started agitating. Harry offered a discount to the customer to sooth his anger. Production was now going at a good pace. Harry was working extra hours to meet the job deadline. His might be a small business, but his customer was one of the big names in the Congo. Harry wanted to keep his customer. Three quarters of the way through the job, the new scanning head failed ….

The Jungle Oats Effect – a sustainable release of energy over a long time

What was Harry going to tell his customer now? Would he lose the job? Harry phoned Mike in a panic.

In the meantime, Mike had realised over time that despite today’s technology, any brand is not as good as the next. He, as many others had, had found that there is a reasonably-priced DRO that really does match its claims of quality. He’d now repeatedly interacted with customers who’d told him that their Metronics DROs had been working without breakdowns or parts failures for fifteen to twenty years and more. This was what Harry needed in his business way up in the Congo.

Harry quickly saw the sense in investing in a sustainable product and asked Mike to go ahead with the Metronics purchase and to bring it to him and to install it as quickly as possible.

Harry managed to placate his customer once more. Using his newly installed Metronics DRO, he finished the job without any further interruptions and has since delivered on job after job without any DRO breakdown hassles.

Why go for the short-term “toast and jam effect” that needs repeated repairs and why suffer the ire of your customers when you can buy a Metronics DRO at just a little more cost, and satisfy your customers by delivering on job after job with virtually no downtimes due to unnecessary parts failures.  It makes economic sense to go for the “jungle oats effect” of sustainability over time.

By Leslie Zimmermann | Metronics Marketing

Head of Metronics: Klaus Zimmermann

Metronics: 011 646-8738

Metronics Mobile: 083 268 6074

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Catching the Wave of the Metronics DRO 10% Discount

March 15, 2010

2010 | Mar | From Metronics Digital Readout Systems

Going back to almost 30 years ago, we knew from the start that when a client installs a DRO System on his machine tool, he wants to feel satisfied and be able to get on with the job. He wants his DRO to be the interface and the upgrade to his machine that will enable him to get his work done efficiently and consistently … again and again and again, without unnecessary downtimes when the DRO breaks down. We knew that and so we designed and manufactured a DRO System that lasts and lasts year in and year out. We knew our Metronics DRO, coupled with a reasonable price, would provide a customer experience far beyond what was expected.

As a result, our customers have been our greatest ambassadors and have confidently advertised our product by word of mouth again and again. To show our appreciation, we are making a special offer available to you, our customers:

If you currently own a Metronics counter, scale or DRO system, you immediately qualify for an instant discount of 10% on any of our products and services.  This offer is valid for one month only. Only orders placed between 15 March – 15 April 2010 will qualify.

If you are going to make a first-time Metronics purchase, you will immediately join our group of satisfied customers. You’ll start experiencing satisfaction and peace of mind from day one of your Metronics DRO installation and you can look forward to future special offers for Metronics DRO customers!

We look forward to hearing from you soon and to being of service to you!

By Leslie Zimmermann | Metronics Marketing

Head of Metronics: Klaus Zimmermann

Metronics: 011 646-8738

Metronics Mobile: 083 268 6074

Metronics Web:

Price Versus Quality

February 12, 2010

2010 | Feb | Price Versus Quality | Metronics Digital Readout Systems

The Gucci Family Slogan: Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.


We’re responding to the topic everyone has been raising about price versus quality with regard to DRO’s during the past year as a result of the recession.

Quality versus Price

An example to kick off with is John. John’s new lathe has been delivered and now that it’s in his workshop, the only thing left to do is to get one of the DRO guys to install a Digital Readout System. He’s thought it through and has settled on a 3-axis system. The question was … which system was he going to buy? Ten years back, it had been an easier decision. There were only a few systems around but today… well today there must be about 10 or 15 to choose from. The Chinese systems are the cheapest of course and then there are a couple of systems that range between medium prices to the absurdly expensive.

John knows that his choices are a reflection of his own values, not something imposed on him by the salesman. For one thing, John looks for value for money and secondly, he gets really frustrated when things break down too often – he wants a thing to work without it being an ongoing hassle.

He also knows of course that quality and price need to be balanced. He’s done his homework. He’s got the quotes and listened to the sales guys.  He knows that in each category of DROs there’s a hierarchy of price and quality from lowest cost to highest cost.

But… what John does not know is that the DRO selection he eventually makes can have a huge impact on the final cost.

When John contacted Klaus at Metronics he told John that being a designer and manufacturer of DROs himself, he has a dilemma. “As DRO manufacturers, we are constantly being asked to achieve two seemingly conflicting goals: assure the high quality of products while keeping costs low”. Klaus told him that in order to resolve these two conflicting issues, a structured approach towards cost and quality can help.

We agreed with John that buying DROs is no longer the straightforward price comparison it once was. For example, our experience over the past decades has shown us that without accurate assessment, customers may buy on price alone, which can lead to high operating and maintenance costs and high upgrades costs. What we at Metronics have found is that overall; customers want reliability, high productivity, and the “lowest total operating costs over the life of a DRO”.

Tracking costs and future costs pays off

1. Replacement DRO parts for cheap imported Readouts are a key expenditure often not taken into consideration. For example, when a scanning head fails, most companies selling imported DRO systems have to replace the entire scanning head – a costly business. Metronics on the other hand is able to locate the exact problem in the scanning head of its system and will repair the specific fault – a less costly business.

Instead of replacing, Metronics repairs!

2. How many times do DRO parts have to be replaced? It’s no secret that many parts of the cheaper DRO scanners break or fail regularly and that suppliers have boxes of failed scanners they’ve had to replace. Someone’s paying for the imports of all these new scanners…and that someone is you, the customer! How many times does your company have to replace failing imported DRO parts over a 20-year period? 3…5….8 times…?

It’s not unusual for our customers to report 15 to 20 years down the line that they have never had a problem with Metronics DRO systems.

3. Most DRO companies import expensive DRO parts instead of sourcing inexpensive replacement parts. For example, for the last 25 years, Metronics has had high quality lips for glass scales made locally – (we even have lips for imported scales).

Instead of adding to your expenses, Metronics adds to your company’s bottom line!

4. Labour and down-time as a result of DRO breakdowns are future costs the sales guys never mention.

In addition to future costs such as,

– buying new replacement parts

– paying to have parts brought in by expensive air freight to minimize downtime

Buying a cheap DRO leads to future costs such as,

– the cost of future down-time

– paying for future labour hours

– paying for future travel costs

It’s difficult to justify these extra expenses when they are not necessary!

Instead, Metronics can supply off the shelf, or can assemble a new part within a day with no freight costs, less down time (if any) and at a reasonable cost.

When John did the maths to find out what the final cost of a DRO was likely to be over a 20 to 25-year period; this is what he discovered –

Option 1: Buying the cheapest DRO. When he tracked the future costs it became clear that the cost over the life of the DRO was not cheap after all!

Option 2: Buying a Metronics DRO. Tracking future costs showed the Metronics System not only cost much less than a “cheap” system over time but he would end up with a good balance of quality and price. He also wanted peace of mind and he knew he’d have basically no hassles with our DRO system.

Is price important, yes it is … but no price is a good price if you don’t like the quality!

Tip of the month

Service your equipment. Just like those unseen enemies of the body, like cholesterol that quietly blocks our arteries and can lead to a heart attack so, a build up of oil and dirt on your DRO scales could suddenly lead to scratched glass, “DRO Failure” & a costly new scale. Service your DRO equipment regularly!

By Leslie Zimmermann | Metronics Marketing

Metronics: 011 646-8738

Metronics Mobile: 083 268 6074

Metronics Web:

Metronics Digital Readout Systems

October 26, 2009

METRONICS has become a well known and much used DRO in the South African engineering and manufacturing industry. It is the only completely SOUTH AFRICAN designed and manufactured range of DRO systems.  Klaus Zimmermann, the owner of METRONICS, started the company in 1989 and the very first scales and counter units were, as now, designed by him and manufactured here in South Africa. The initial response to the METRONICS DRO SYSTEM was quite overwhelming and from those first enquiries, the company has grown to become a major DRO supplier to South African industry at large. The METRONICS DRO system has earned its place and reputation in South African industry. It is highly accurate, reliable, robust and durable.

One of the major advantages of a locally manufactured DRO system is that it is immediately available. When a DRO system fails it poses a great inconvenience to the user and a tremendous slow-down in productivity. Down-time also means a substantial loss of income from an investment due to waiting for imported parts to arrive. The METRONICS range of equipment can be repaired, replaced and supplied within hours. It was designed specifically to integrate with all well known imported DROs. METRONICS scales or counters can be readily inter-changed and substituted with existing imported systems and visa versa. Usually it is only the connector, which needs to be changed, or sometimes the signal type (sine to square wave on counter or scale). The METRONICS service-team is familiar with just about any type of DRO product ever made.

In response to the claims of sales representatives of imported metal-tube-scales, glass scales rarely if ever break. The mechanical damages and breakages are the result of bad installations and scales being too short! The same applies to the metal-tube-scales which are made of a flimsy tube with a wall-thickness of only 0.5 of a millimetre! The aluminium profile of a glass-scale provides enough protection to ensure that any force capable of breaking the glass scale would similarly inflict serious damage to a metal-tube-scale.

The world’s largest DRO manufacturers have continuously favoured optical glass scales for many years now.  This is not because they are easier or cheaper to produce, but because of the inherent accuracy of the product.

With respect to both the robustness and the accuracy of glass scales Metronics has been called upon to replace some of those ‘superior’ metal-tube-scales with glass scales several times. This was in each instance as a result of the inaccuracy revealed when metrology services conducted tests for the purpose of issuing a certificate of standard measuring accuracy. In each case, the verification of accuracy with a laser, those metal-tube scales failed the test. The last case was a jig-borer at very high-tech company. Metronics considers these findings important from the perspective of the correct equipment being installed for the appropriate requirements of its clients. Accuracy requires a high precision measuring scale. Applications that require a lesser precision are suited to less accurate scales such as magnetic or inductive metal-tube-scales.

METRONICS endeavours to improve its products to remain competitive in the modern engineering industry.

Some of the features provided by the METRONICS multi-axis software counter include:

A very robust aluminium pressure die-cast housing!

Inch/ metric conversion via software switch.

Feed-rate indicator in mm per min. on all axes.  This is very useful on variable speed control feed drives.

Preset facilities on all axes.

100 datum points on all axes simultaneously.

Toggle between two positions.

Counting direction up/down via externally accessible software switch

Halving of display for each individual axis.

Radius/diameter conversion for lathes via software switch.

System can be set to any graduation and resolution that is commonly used in industry.

Zero output capability for EDM (Z-axis) or any other axis.

Reference point evaluation.  METRONICS scales have a reference point every 25mm. (This makes reference evaluation easily possible after a power failure).

METRONICS also manufacture their own scales.   These are available in a 40 and 20 micronmeter grating-pitch (GP). This results in a 0.01mm or a 0.005mm resolution straight off the scale. By using a METRONICS 5 or 10 FOLD INTERPOLATION-BOARD the display-step can be reduced, depending on the grating-pitch, to 0.001mm or 0.0005mm. METRONICS linear scales are available with measuring length from 50MM up to 3200mm. Scales of up to 6400 mm have been supplied by METRONICS and are made to the same standards and accuracy as those of any of the international manufacturers.

METRONICS also supplies scales with a short graduated section and the rest of the scale (machine travel) a blank piece of glass. This makes a scale on a long lathe, which is only used for short chucking work (e.g. in a tool room), much more affordable. This special type of scale is also very useful and popular for the ‘Z’ axis on a horizontal boring mill.

The METRONICS’ DRO COUNTERS and SCALES are generally capable of integrating into existing equipment of most other well or not so well known MAKES.  This means that in the event of damage, repair, or additions the necessary replacement or product is available ex-stock from a LOCAL SOURCE.

Visual information and display of the METRONICS Digital Readout System may be seen in the MTM Machine Tool Market journal and can be contacted at their main office in Johannesburg or at one of their agents at:

Johannesburg: Klaus Zimmermann (011) 646-8738 Cell: 083 268 6074

Port Elizabeth: Steve Cooper (041) 360-8171 Cell: 082 854 0486

Kwazulu-Natal: Alan Thompson (031) 764-2419 Cell: 082 450 4361