Bringing Data Visualization to the Forefront in Fastening Operations
By Anthony Borges, Marketing Manager, PINpoint Information Systems
Data visualization is integral to any continuous improvement initiative, and particularly in assembly fastening operations it further enhances error-proofing. Essentially data visualization is a term that describes the effort of helping people to understand the significance of data by placing it in a graphical context. Patterns, trends and associations that might go undetected in text based information can be understood easier with manufacturing execution software that puts data visualization forefront.
The ability to present complicated information to an assembly line worker in a meaningful way only adds to the error-proofing goal. Fastening operations in manufacturing are integral to the successful output of quality defect-free products; any bolt or nut not fastened to the specified tolerances of torque and angle are prone to failure, and potentially warranty claims, and safety concerns once in the field. The importance of quality assuring that each and every bolted joint on any product, and especially safety critical products like automobiles, heavy machinery, and airliners for example, is of paramount concern; safeguards must be introduced to ensure no defects ever pass, and those safeguards must monitor and control all aspects of those assembly operations.
Manufacturing execution system (MES) software provides manufactures of any size the impenetrable defence needed to error-proof. For example, at the line station level the MES interface screens or ‘SmartScreens’ are the first protection to error-proof any assembly fastening operation. Line station workers must first log into the system using their credentials; the system then confirms who they are, and whether they are qualified to do the process steps assigned to that particular station.
Once confirmed, the line worker in the example would next be presented with any pending messages or alerts, such as a Quality Alert, which once read would need to be acknowledged by the line worker to the MES system by pressing a button or entering text. Only after all messages and alerts are observed will the MES system give the line worker the approval to begin work, and turn on the tools and devices needed to perform process steps. From that moment forward cycle and/or Takt time begins, with the line worker being guided ‘visually’ by the SmartScreen to complete the assembly fastening operation.
The latest fastening operation data visualization technology from PINpoint Information Systems provides line workers extremely clear directions and visual feedback regarding the progress of each and every process step they are performing. So much so, it has proven time and time again to be able to instruct newly hired assembly line workers with no previous experience to perform complicated tasks; and to be able to do so in a short timeframe due to the guidance provided by the MES system.
Figure 1 below shows the SmartScreen Rundown Detail window. It comprises all of the information required by the line worker to successfully complete the fastening operation. The fastening tolerances are displayed as they were configured by the production engineers (from a website browser on any computer or phone) and are shown as both the assembly tool Controller Limits, and the MES system [PINpoint] Limits creating the flexibility for two (2) levels of defence in verifying the status of the fastening operation. Easy to identify colored areas in the grid represent the tool controller and MES system limits; the fastening operation Torque tolerance in this example is shown as the blue area, with the Angle tolerance shown as the purple area. Where they overlap distinguishes the target or specified Torque and Angle tolerance for the operation, with the green dot (animated and pulsing) indicating what the result was of the bolt rundown operation.
Figure 1:‘SmartScreen’ fastening operation Rundown Detail window.
In the Rundown Detail window example above, the target Torque and Angle tolerances for the Tool Controller are 0.00 - 8.00Nm and 0 - 8° respectively; with the MES system [PINpoint] Limits for Torque set at 5.00 - 10.00Nm and Angle at 5 - 10°. When the line station worker performs the operation successfully within tolerance, the Status ‘OK’ is indicated in text as shown, but also visually with a flashing green dot located inside the overlapping colored areas indicating the operation was successful and within tolerance limits. If the worker had failed and rundown the fastener outside of the aforementioned Torque and Angle tolerances, then a ‘NOK’ would be displayed as the status, with a red dot, again flashing, but located outside of the overlapping colored areas indicating a failed rundown, or result outside the specification.
An ‘NOK’ status results in a halt to the line worker’s progress, with assembly tools and devices being locked. The MES system may be configured to allow the line worker to try a second or third rundown by reversing the tool and running it down again, or not; the system is completely configurable, so manufacturers can decide exactly how it is they deal with the defects unique to their products and manufacturing operations. In this case the issue with the defective part could be resolved in different ways, depending on the situation; i.e. perhaps the line worker is able to reverse the tool and attempt another rundown within spec for an ‘OK’ status, or maybe Line Supervisor interjection is necessary? If so, help is available immediately when the line worker presses their SmartScreen andon help button; and regardless of the scenario, once the Line Supervisor is involved she/he are able to make the decision on the next steps, such as re-routing the defective product to a repair workstation.
The use of data visualization on the assembly line only strengthens the manufactures ability to full-proof their error-proofing strategy. From the line workers and supervisors point of view, the system is their guide to doing a good job on time. The MES connects all people and machines into a monitoring, process control, and reporting system that tells you, and your team, how they and overall operations are doing at any given time. The motivation gained by the manufacturing team not only makes for a more efficient factory producing quality products, but creates an atmosphere and culture of people who want to do better together and grow.
About PINpoint MES Software
PINpoint Information System’s manufacturing execution system (MES) software is meticulously designed and tested to ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’ (ITIL) standards before any official version release. PINpoint’s andon and MES System software have been developed since 1997 and continue to be evolved and pushed-forward by leading manufacturers.
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