Factory
Most manufacturers are aware of the benefits that radio frequency identification (RFID) can bring to the supply chain, but they often overlook the technology's opportunity in manufacturing processes. RFID can address numerous manufacturing challenges, including security, quality control, production execution and asset management. When implementing the technology in a manufacturing environment, however, the key is not the tag, the reader or the part identification. Rather, it is the data that can be obtained. The objective is to use RFID to become a data-enabled enterprise, a manufacturer that obtains data and uses the information to further its competitive edge.Production processes are typically in a better position to harness the value and positive return on investment provided by RFID-collected data because they take place in a closed-loop environment where the RFID investment ó the tags ó is repeatedly used. Users can also take advantage of the existing process automation infrastructure inherent in most manufacturing facilities. RFID can bridge the gap between manufacturing execution systems (MES), enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and the production floor. The technology has the ability to provide the enabling data at a much greater level of accuracy, timeliness and detail than other alternatives. The following are some examples of how RFID can be applied in the manufacturing environment. Security RFID can be used to control various aspects of security on the plant floor. It can replace the need for passwords for process control and parameter changes. It can assist in applications where there are issues with operators logging in and leaving; multiple operators working from the same node with different security requirements; or supervisors forgetting to log out. RFID can link the user, machine and task together to verify that only qualified people are maintaining and operating the equipment. It can also allow users to track which employees have done which task, as a means of controlling quality and safety. OPEL, a car manufacturer in Europe owned by General Motors, uses RFID to solve security issues. Its production process requires that systems and computers be specially configured via about 650 programs to initiate different production steps. Today, each worker has a glass transponder on a key ring. The glass shell protects against dirt, moisture, impact and temperature. If an individual wants access to the control panel of a particular machine, the personís transponder must be verified by the reader before new data can be entered. Using RFID, the company achieved its goals of reducing input errors, monitoring and logging security and task information, and protecting sensitive system data. Changes are time- and date-stamped with the tag ID, creating a historical log for root cause analysis in the event of problems. Quality control Companies are continually looking for ways to improve quality. When a process requires certain materials, when formulations dictate certain aspects of manufacturing, or when sensitive materials can expire from exposure to excessive heat or elapsed time, RFID may be the solution. RFID tags can track products through production, reporting data as required at critical stages. In addition, data enabled by RFID can meet Six Sigma or Kaizen real-time data requirements for statistical and root cause analysis. For validation, RFID can provide the data needed to ensure clean-in-place (CIP) or sterilization has occurred. In the life sciences industry, it is not uncommon for work orders to be paper-based, especially with critical documents for validation and history. Tags embedded directly onto documents can become an automatic, reliable method for creating the work order audit trail and ensuring the correct process of the work order. A pharmaceutical company uses RFID for process monitoring and validation. During production, 1,000 bottles are loaded onto metal racks, which are moved into an autoclave for sterilization at 120 C. If there is any doubt about correct time or temperature of sterilization, the complete batch must be destroyed. Previously, product tracking and control measures were done manually, which allowed room for error. To solve this problem, the company installed a conveyor system to automatically move the racks. RFID tags are used to track and validate each rack through sterilization, operating within various environmental constraints including high heat, line of sight and stainless steel racking. Production execution RFID can also provide users with the real-time data needed in production execution. Consider applications where it is critical to ensure correct labour, machine, tool, materials and components are available and ready. The read-write capabilities of RFID can be used to control, modify and reconfigure production steps based on inbound materials and assemblies. For example, BMW needed flexible automobile assembly in a plant where every car is assembled according to the purchaserís custom order. With varying options for colour, engine, trim and tires, there could be hundreds of variations in the line. The solution BMW is using is to attach RFID tags, programmed with each vehicleís specifications, to the skid that carries each car. As the skid moves through each station, the operator or robot reads the information on the tag and manages the steps according to the data received. Genealogy A hot topic in many industries, especially food and life sciences, is the need for thorough product and material tracking and genealogy. Legal requirements, such as the United States FDA Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, mandate that food companies need to comply with product tracking throughout the supply chain. This, combined with other issues such as recalls, creates the need for increased visibility of raw ingredients through the manufacturing process. RFID can be used as an enabler for genealogical tracking by recording such relevant information as product identification, time-stamp, physical characteristics, lot numbers and disposition at each stop through the production process. It creates the ability to retrace when, where and under what circumstances a specific unit was made, and to identify manufacturing success or failure. RFID can create finer data granularity over other types of data collection, right down to the batch, lot or item. Northern Fine Foods, a manufacturer of processed meats and cheeses, uses RFID for raw material and product tracking. Operators install RFID tags on the pallets or containers of raw ingredients when they are received from each supplier. The tags are integrated into a data tracking system that indicates which containers are to be used and when, with alerts if any container is nearing expiration. RFID is also used for their work in process (WIP) requirements. Once the ingredients are mixed, batches are placed in racks for cooking, chilling and aging. Tags are applied to these racks to automatically read and record at each production step, give information for the next step, and alert when the duration of a particular step is not correct. Asset management Manufacturers pursue lean manufacturing and just-in-time methodologies to obtain the benefits of reduced inventory. Some manufacturers, however, build up inventory to handle unforeseen circumstances, or because they do not have an accurate representation of WIP. RFID can improve inventory visibility and tracking within the manufacturing operation. Asset utilization in a closed-loop system is often a great way to gain experience with RFID and drive overall equipment efficiency. Another driver for equipment efficiency in highly automated facilities is through maintenance, repair and overhaul activities. These processes are supported by computerized maintenance and management system (CMMS) applications, and are becoming one of the top priority applications within facilities. RFID-enabled data can fulfill CMMS requirements of providing detailed, accurate and timely data. With RFID, many types of data can be ascertained, including location on the floor, usage or maintenance history, information on cleaning and sterilization, and validation for use for particular lines or ingredients. Let goals be your guide When considering the implementation of RFID, it is essential to avoid the "tag first" approach–looking at tag capabilities and then trying to force it to fit into operations. Before examining any RFID project, manufacturing goals and data requirements need to be outlined. Ultimately, success comes not from the technology itself, but from how it is integrated into an enterprise's systems and business processes to support overall operations and create that data-enabled enterprise. Alix Russell is the manager of new projects at Cougar Automation Technologies based in Woodbridge, Ont. Checklist for implementing data projects For an RFID project to succeed, it is necessary to approach the business problem and potential solution using a systems approach. RFID systems should be conceived, designed and implemented using a systematic development process in which end-users and specialists design RFID systems based on an analysis of the organizationís business requirements. At a basic level, the following eight-step process should be followed: 1) Clearly define the objectives: Establish goals to be achieved or problems to be solved. 2) Education and awareness: Get the functional organization involved to take ownership of the project. 3) Analyse the business case: • Understand the functional process and benefits. The objective is to quantify and measure the benefits and establish the ROI. • Develop a plan for the data management. • Examine data collection, storage and business rules for data interpretation and how this data will be used to improve your current process. • Ensure that the projectís objectives and cost profiles are aligned with overall company budgets and operational plans. 4) Establish the technology. 5) Do a pilot. 6) Analyse results and ROI. 7) Roll out. 8) Keep analysing and improving: Set up an ongoing process to monitor and adjust as changes occur in requirements or technology capabilities. By Bob Moroz, R. Moroz Ltd., and Katherine van Nes, Cougar Automation Technologies Inc.
Canadian manufacturer uses camera sensors as an alternative safeguarding solution
The machine vision systems market is growing, as more and more companies begin to use the technology to meet their ergonomic, quality control and regulatory needs. Today, automatic vision inspection is being used in the industrial automation industry to streamline production, remove bottlenecks, increase throughput, save on labour costs and bolster productivity. Vision systems can work around the clock, resulting in peak production loads and faster order turn around. The systems can act as a substitute for human inspection when performing simple and repetitive jobs. This may avoid injury and costly mistakes that can be caused by human fatigue and bias brought on by the complacency of performing tedious and monotonous work. The technology can also become an effective quality control and data collection tool, since it delivers statistics, status and trends data. Vision systems can provide real-time images, which enable users to monitor operations on-screen or to record digitized images with time stamps for later retrieval. Using these images as a diagnostic tool can assist troubleshooting, reduce downtime and eliminate losses from spoiled products.Compliance is also a large contributor to the market's growth. Most integrated vision systems today provide solutions that enable manufacturers to meet regulatory requirements. The systems provide product quality, safety and security inspection in manufacturing, as well as product tracking. These applications are driven by global regulatory and enforcement policies that demand due diligence towards 100 per cent inspection, and thus ensure product security and traceability from final packaging to delivery.Regulatory compliance, especially for food and drug production, implies that somewhere along the production line a machine inspection system is required, rather than using the traditional human-based inspection station. Original equipment manufacturers are also beginning to require component and sub-component genealogy and traceability information from supply chain partners. Therefore, machine vision systems are designed in accordance with international quality standards such as FDA guidelines, 21 CFR Part 11, good manufacturing practice (GMP) and good automated manufacturing practice (GAMP). The systems play a critical role in enabling current and anticipated regulatory requirements in food and beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Similarly, industries such as aerospace and automotive manufacturing face tightened requirements for unit level traceability for the sake of product liability, warranty costs and regulatory issues.Despite the many applications and benefits, some manufacturers are still skeptical and hesitant to make investments in vision systems. Statistical reports show that a high percentage of new machine vision users have a hard time deploying the technology, since some real-world manufacturing conditions easily upset a vision system's ability to "see." These conditions include inconsistent lighting, and variations in component shapes and surface characteristics. In addition, a vision system will not receive widespread acceptance as an indispensable automation tool unless it delivers a promising performance, no matter how small a footprint it encapsulates and "smart" it promises to be.Deployment guidelinesCurrent machine architecture is moving towards a more "intelligent" approach that strikes the right balance between cost and capabilities. One of the main thrusts of the emerging adaptive technology is to make vision systems easier to use, which means putting customized high-performance solutions into the hands of users without any development work on their part.Adaptive technology for vision systems is part of an evolutionary progression that has improved user interaction with machines. The move to open standards and a Windows-based common interface has made systems more friendly and intuitive for inexperienced users. Using point-and-click tools on-screen to adjust parameters "on-the-fly," without stopping the line, is as simple as operating a camcorder, but flexible enough to cope with process variations. Furthermore, multiple recipe-driven software programs with database management functions can easily support a flexible automation line and handle multiple product manufacturing. All of these flexible features are only available on PC-based machine vision systems.Lastly, one should never overlook the cost to deploy and maintain a vision system before and after it is installed. Total cost of ownership (TCO) is a measure of all costs related to technology assets throughout their lifecycle, from acquisition to disposal. It is not as straightforward to determine some of these costs as one might first imagine, since many of these factors boil down to human issues, rather than the outlook of an initial hardware cost. The TCO puzzle is comprised of many pieces, from a big picture perspective. The diagram below shows a full spectrum of TCO elements that should be considered when deploying and maintaining a vision system in your plant.As any industrial vision system depends on the weakest link within the whole technological chain, a homogeneous turnkey solution is the best approach to avoid failure in vision deployment plans. It is crucial that machine vision experts are involved throughout the entire development process so they can react to problems that occur and help companies anticipate unforeseen problems.Companies that do not adopt machine vision technology as an integral part of their continuous improvement strategy will undoubtedly lose ground to companies whose competing products are virtually guaranteed by machine vision solutions. Facing a competitive global market, machine vision can empower a company with the means to successfully overcome the ever-increasing challenges of high labour costs, Third World competition and a market demand for quality products at a competitive price.Joseph Poon, founder and president of Global Controls, has been in the field of machine vision for more than 15 years. He is also a consultant to ASM Pacific Ltd., an assembly equipment manufacturer for the global microelectronics industry.
Advances in micro-electrical-mechanical systems (MEMS) and sensor technologies are driving the growth of automation in discrete manufacturing industries as users interface their operations with analogue/digital input to control processes.
Manufacturers strive to produce better products, cheaper and faster than their competitors. More companies implement automation to boost output and quality. But with the vast amount of technologies available, it can be a daunting task to identify the leading technologies that will truly make a difference on the plant floor. We asked five experts to list what they consider to be the top industrial automation technologies or trends that will make a difference in 2006 and beyond. A big thank you to Jim Pinto, Don Mahony, Rudy Poseika, Trevor Jones and Sal Spada for sharing their insights. Jim Pinto's top five Jim Pinto is an industry analyst, commentator, writer, technology entrepreneur, investor and futurist. You can read excerpts from his book, Pinto's Points - How to Win in the Automation Business, at www.jimpinto.com/writings/points.html. 1. The networked factory: The vision of fully automated factories has existed for some time now: customers order online, with electronic transactions that negotiate batch size, price and colour, while intelligent robots and sophisticated machines fabricate a variety of customized products on demand. The promise of remote-controlled automation is finally making headway in manufacturing. Today, this is purely a matter of networked intelligence. Ethernet is everywhere, and everything is networked. All segments of manufacturing will start to interact in ways that were previously unthinkable. It's about getting information in and out quickly, monitoring the business as it happens, and making quick, effective, agile decisions. 2. Wireless networks: Wireless connectivity is already wide-spread in office and consumer environments, and manufacturing will move quickly to take advantage of the overwhelming benefits. More production personnel, portable equipment and processes will be networked than ever before. A variety of technology choices are available - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee. In 2006, expect to see these wireless networks throughout the factory floor. 3. Robots: In the last decade, the performance of robots has increased dramatically while prices have plummeted. In North America, the price of robots relative to labour costs has fallen significantly, as low as 12:1, if quality improvements are taken into consideration. As robot intelligence increases, and as sensors, actuators and operating mechanisms become more sophisticated, manufacturing automation applications will continue to multiply. 4. Machine-to-machine communications (M2M): For complex manufacturing equipment, M2M communications will track operating and usage patterns, providing production analysis and predictive maintenance. When breakdowns occur, the equipment itself will provide immediate feedback for rapid diagnostics and proactive service. Equipment manufacturers will be using M2M-connected products to develop super-efficient service relationships and reduce the hassles of equipment ownership. 5. Enterprise collaboration software: More people are working together in distributed, cross-organizational teams, across distances, time zones and conventional company borders. Team members are available from anywhere, at any time, through collaboration software suites. Desktop and intranet search and data mining solutions will allow companies to use more of the knowledge that previously was left untapped in information archives. Collaborating companies will grow smarter and add more value as they refine and reuse their knowledge. Rudy Poseika's top five Rudy Poseika is the manager of technical support for Richmond Hill, Ont.-based automation software provider CB Automation Inc., a sister company to CB Engineering. 1. Microsoft .Net technology: The implementation of .Net in the software environment should increase the reliability and security of software offerings. The technology provides the infrastructure for different applications to share data, and it has the ability to automatically update newer versions of itself. Existing applications can be re-worked to be .Net applications, but these may not be able to take advantage of all of the technology's benefits. There are also other infrastructures that can accomplish the same tasks via Java and network protocol homegrown solutions. 2. Portal: Information processing and summary viewing on the plant floor still have issues providing the big picture. Various Scada, PLCs and instrumentation can now communicate with each other, but when corporate databases become involved, and connections to suppliers and customer systems are required, it can be a difficult implementation task. Web services provide information, such as electricity prices or weather data, allowing the different systems access to more timely information. This becomes a "portal" solution for use in manufacturing environments. Portals are used for customer relationship management solutions, finance, sales automation, as well as on the plant floor. The portal viewer can reside on the present infrastructure of computers with existing Scada, hand-held devices or "tablet" devices. 3. Radio frequency identification (RFID): There has been some press about the "big brother" aspect of RFID, but the benefit in manufacturing is being recognized more and more. Placing RFID tags on pallets, cartons and individual items increases traceability and information flow in real time. There are, however, challenges to implementation. Water absorbs RF signals, while metal reflects the signals. Therefore, tag location on these applications is key. 4. Manufacturing execution systems (MES): MES has been described as the layer of software implementation between the plant floor and the enterprise application system. Now that the infrastructure of Scada exists, MES applications are easier to implement, and can relay data and information up and down the enterprise. MES can also be used for tracking purposes, as it can produce reports detailing the raw materials that went into an item, as well as each process it went through. 5. Wireless communications/networking: Wi-Fi and "hotspots" have become buzzwords these days, and are increasingly implemented on the plant floor. With wireless technologies, cabling can be eliminated, fork lifts and other mobile equipment can be in constant communication with other systems, and information flow is enhanced. Don Mahony's top five Don Mahony is a business development manager for Mississauga, Ont.-based Schneider Electric Inc., specializing in industrial control automation solutions. 1. Ethernet communications: The replacement of various proprietary communication systems with Ethernet will allow multiple manufacturers to use the same communication system. There has been movement towards this standard as more manufacturers provide connectivity using this system. 2. Advanced PLC programming tools: Users have typically defaulted to the familiar ladder logic language instead of using the power of the four standard International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) languages available in modern PLC programming packages. For example, a sequential function chart should be used as an overview for any sequential process; structured text is the most efficient way of handling calculations; function block language is an excellent way of depicting a process application; and a ladder diagram is the best approach when interlocking is required. A project is often composed of multiple applications. The key is to select the language that best suits the needs of the engineering team and the maintenance group. 3. Internet technologies: In the past, automation systems were focused primarily on the control of the process or machine. Today, there is more emphasis on obtaining data from the process or machine, which can then be turned into information for production decisions. Internet technologies, such as web servers and mail servers, can be used to make this information available to all departments on a corporate network. The latest technologies embed these servers into plant-floor controllers, drives and monitors, so the information can be accessed on a browser anywhere on the connected network. 4. Remote machine access: Machinery is becoming more complex as manufacturers strive for better throughput and less downtime. In many cases, this requires dedicated training for maintenance personnel on each machine, resulting in huge costs for major installations. Some OEMs design their machines with built-in communications back to the factory for improved maintenance and reliability. This line of communication not only allows factory technicians to troubleshoot the machine remotely, but also provides the manufacturer with information, such as wear rates, so they can provide more accurate, predictive maintenance programs to the users. 5. Simulation software: In the past, a new product's lifecycle could be expected to be measured in years. Today, it may be measured in months. This means the developmental cycle must be compressed to maximize the time the product is available. A key to minimizing the developmental time is using simulation software for product and process design. Modern control software allows both PLC and HMI applications to be exercised internally on a developmental computer to prove the logic and configuration before they are loaded into the controllers or computers. Trevor Jones' top four Trevor Jones is the director of OEM business development for Thermo Electron, Laboratory Automation and Integration (formerly CRS Robotics) of Burlington, Ont., and president of the Robotic Industries Association. 1. Robotics: Flexibility is the order of the day. Robotics will help in product line switchover when demand pulls new products from the factory. Robots also lend structure to the way products are assembled, and how the factory is laid out. Those supported with computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software for production planning will shorten line change-over time. More powerful controllers make robots faster and more capable of adapting to sensory input than ever before. New robotic controllers will have more dedicated application-centric software to shorten set-up time and provide more optimal in-process control. 2. Automated process feedback and data collection: Adapting processes for constant improvement is key. Robotic and other machine controllers will provide more process control data and will adapt to changing process conditions. Machine vision can be used for process control and for capturing quality data. Analysis software will spot statistical and special cause variations in the processes. 3. On-demand quality documentation: Flexible manufacturing requires on-demand information. Shop floor staff have to be updated with the latest techniques and information about how products have to be built and tested. Final inspection is essentially a "waste" in lean manufacturing theory. The right job has to be done the first time with little waste, scrap or rejects. 4. Wireless communications: I see a more intimate link between humans and machines, supported by convenient communication devices. Wires are a thing of the past. Safety protocols and technologies must be adapted and supported within the framework of wireless communications. Safety standards must address these emerging technologies aggressively. Sal Spada's top three Sal Spada is a senior analyst with the ARC Advisory Group. His areas of expertise include computer numerical controllers, general motion control, servo drives and machine safety. 1. Adaptive machine controls: The manufacturing community is continuously seeking to improve quality in production as the market moves to zero tolerance in defects. Thus, there is a demand in the market for more adaptive controls. There are many forms of adaptive solutions in the market that are working in tandem with advanced algorithms embedded directly in machine controls. Spot welding is a good example of a process that lends itself to adaptive controls. The pneumatic positioning systems that have dominated the industry in the past are now being displaced by electronic servo control. The use of weld tip displacement systems that rely upon electronic motion control to position the weld tip is a trend that is taking hold. Manufacturers are able to control force and measure displacement, thereby adding another dimension of adaptive control to process. Overall, electronic servo control adds another element of flexibility to rapidly improve production processes or quickly adapt a new product to the system. 2. Intelligent software: Manufacturers want to improve the operational efficiency of their existing assets. The primary mechanism to measure and manage asset efficiency has been to use overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) analytical tools, which require visibility and connectivity to equipment on the production floor. The challenge, however, is to take this data and turn it into information that is actionable by managers and operators on the production floor. We are seeing a rapid emergence of software on the factory floor that provides intelligence and guidance on how to balance the load on a production line and fix problems that have the most impact on productivity. The key to improving production efficiency is identifying corrective actions that lead to maximizing uptime. Thus, it is knowledge-based tools that are shattering the traditional notions of managing asset efficiency. These tools employ simulation, as well as weighted analysis, to eliminate objectivity in production floor decision-making. 3. Safety systems: Business and plant managers are actively seeking an intelligent safety strategy that not only protects humans, machines and the environment, but also supports business benefits such as increased productivity, improved machine efficiency and increased uptime. Manufacturers are taking these business factors into account when considering new automation upgrades and installations. A more modern, effective safeguarding strategy is one that is integrated as a system solution using intelligent automation components. The system approach results in minimizing the risk of operator injury to a tolerable level while allowing the operator to work efficiently. Modern safety systems allow operators and maintenance personnel to gain access to machine safety zones or reduce the risk of injury by setting programmable limits on actuator speeds, forces and torques.
For many, today's SUV, with its robust construction and large size, represents the union of tough safety standards for on-road travel as well as the rugged performance necessary for off-road adventures.It's no wonder that a manufacturing facility for one of North America's most popular SUVs would use rugged assembly line conveyors for the vehicles' construction. The company also uses steel frame automated guided carts (AGC) as both travelling assembly stations for the model's instrument panel (I/P) subassembly process, and as the delivery conveyance for the sub-assemblies to the vehicle assembly line.
Advancements in automation technology, the rise in overseas manufacturing and the increased awareness of employee safety have all contributed to the growth of the robotic industry over the last decade. More and more companies are realizing that robots have the potential to significantly cut costs and prevent injuries to employees.
It came out of nowhere, and caught most manufacturers off guard. With little fanfare, the Canadian Standards Association released a new safety code for power presses in 2002.
In today's high-paced society, speed is a way of life. For case packing machines, whereby a machine or person moves a product down a conveyor to be packaged, it is important for manufacturers to move a large volume of products in a short amount of time. The case packer must not only be fast, but also cost-efficient and durable enough to ensure a long lifespan.
For years, Tom Bullock has been one of the most vocal and visible figures in the motion control business. Bullock worked at Giddings & Lewis for 28 years, where he drove many important product development initiatives and left in 1990 to form his present consulting firm, BullsEye Marketing. He has been featured in many trade magazines in the automation business, and continues to shape the direction of our industry. Here, regular contributor to Manufacturing AUTOMATION magazine, Perry Marshall, discusses Bullock's perception on important issues, past and present.
Automated control systems modified for weight-based road marking vehicles eliminate mistakes for customers In the road marking industry, competitiveness among private contractors is intense. Vying for regional and local projects with rigorous specifications, contractors work hard to gain a competitive edge. Implementing strategies that help achieve specification requirements and reduce mistakes can vastly improve profitability and the likelihood of winning future contracts.
At Ford Motor Company, new vehicles accounted for more than half its volume in sales during the past year. Among them are the Freestyle crossover vehicle and the Ford Five Hundred mid-size sedan, which has "crossover characteristics" by way of its vehicle platform, cargo capability and command-of-road seating. With its new product offering, Ford plans to establish itself as one of the industry's largest-volume producers of all-wheel-drive vehicles and a leader in continuously variable transmissions.
Steady growth in its network systems and components business swelled Cabletron Systems inventory of manufacturing components and testing equipment from 850 SKUs to 6,500 SKUs. This growth threatened to push existing storage space to its limit, jeopardizing productivity and plant safety.
Marinette Marine Corporation is a full-service shipyard located on the banks of the Menominee River in Marinette, Wis., just upstream from Lake Michigan. The company was founded in 1942 to meet the United States' growing need for naval construction. Since then, Marinette Marine has built more than 1,300 vessels and is a leader in designing and building technologically advanced vessels. Its facility and team of workers build both freshwater and seawater vessels for commercial and military applications.
In the medical supply manufacturing business, product reliability and precision is crucial. For a medical IV assemblies manufacturer in the United States, quality control involved manually inspecting sample valves as they came off the assembly line and measuring for uniformity under a microscope. The process was not only arduous for workers, but it also ate up a significant amount of manpower and time.
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