Case Studies

Full Traceability Even Sub-Components

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Goal

Ensure accurate records exist for every part and component.

Challenge

Track and log each part as it moves through production.

Solution

Comprehensive traceability to track and record each item produced.

Results

Accurate records of all materials produced aid in plant management and are delivered by sub-suppliers to OEMs to meet changing requirements.

Improving quality often means tracking parts throughout production. Some manufacturers even require their parts suppliers to provide, on demand, full part histories to ensure that detected problems are easy to pinpoint and remedy.

Traceability can be a challenge to manufacturers with little or no automation. In one plant parts arrived in bins and were randomly processed. To add traceability, DataRealm installed a data collection system tracking entry and exit using handheld WIN CE wireless scanners. They capture barcode data at various production stages which in turn continuously updates a centralized database also connected to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Throughout, web delivered reports show where parts are in the process.

In another assignment, a traceability system tracks parts providing a documented record of when and where each part is processed and by which operator. Additional quarantining capabilities assist in locating suspected defective parts to prevent them from further processing or leaving the plant.

Handheld barcode scanners, placed at each operation/machine, capture operator and fixture identification and part serial numbers. Sequence checks confirm completion of previous operations and quarantine checks are completed. Successful checks are added to a build record containing transaction timestamp, serial number, machine info, fixture and operator identification. Users can login and view, sort, add, change, remove or export and build records and add, remove, or modify quarantines. Metal box mounted touch screen interfaces allow operators to setup machine sequencing, mapping or add/remove fixture identifications.

For a manufacturer with a highly automated, parallel manufacturing process, with virtually no human contact, finding and tracing quality problems was extremely difficult. To this challenge, DataRealm added a radio frequency identification tag to each part. The tag contains serial number, part type, component list and a list of stations it has passed through, historical data from test and run-down stations and current status (accept/reject). Data collected at "Read Points" is sent to a server.

With this web-based application, users enter quarantine parameters for suspect parts allowing the server to communicate back to "read points" if a part should be quarantined making each point a "quality gate".

In a fourth project, a supplier of customized engines needed to record and store results completed by in-line test stations, including a vision system. The DataRealm designed traceability system collects test data - including camera images - and controls the progression of parts from station-to-station based on test data. A backup and recovery system was included. Web-based reporting allows for reviews of the number of times a part is tested, the results and images of the part prior to shipping.

At another plant, a traceability system now reads and interprets leak test data for two different engine components, in real-time from two PLCs. Data is stored in a normalized and carefully-optimized database. On demand web-based reports provide tabular data displaying colour-coded test results based on pass and fail verdicts.

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