Rethink process control with MES software technology

Monday October 16, 2017
Written by Anthony Borges
Oct. 16, 2017 - The most successful manufacturing companies develop a culture of full-accountability in their operations where it matters the most, on the plant floor.

It is the physical assembly line afterall where the complex dance of human and machine takes place to turn individual parts into products. Gone are the days of assembly line management and process control where software does not play a major role in achieving this goal — it is now essential. The latest manufacturing execution system (MES) technologies afford any manufacturer regardless of size the means to improve product quality while optimizing cycle time.

Rethinking the way you control your assembly line processes means evolving into the new methodology of manufacturing operations management (MOM) and error-proofing that ties together all branches of the complicated world that is the plant floor, into a command centre that is a configurable solution manufacturers can access from the Cloud. By using software, the manufacturer is enabled by knowledge; i.e. raw data that is transformed visually into meaningful reports manufacturers use to improve their business.

MES/MOM software is the tool necessary to accomplish the highest standard of quality control, which is only possible by managing the human and machine interactions with the products and their timing. The process control strategy becomes tangible when it is clearly represented in easy to navigate and use websites that let you create, configure, monitor, control and report on every single process step. No matter how complicated the product you are making the solution is flexible and scalable to handle an unlimited number of processes. The MES/MOM software critiques every input and output; each activity is recorded for instant feedback, or real-time reports that quantify how you are performing against the manufacturing goals you set. MES/MOM allows manufacturers to quickly and accurately determine key performance indicators (KPI) including Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by closely monitoring and adjusting cycle time and Takt time, versus your production goal and work time scheduling.

MES/MOM software is designed to error-proof assembly line operations and optimize cycle time by controlling all assembly line processes. Monitoring and verifying the success of every process step only leads to the manufacturing of quality products with zero defects, finished on-time. Figure 1 shows a screenshot of the MES system’s assembly line worker user interface or touchscreen for a product fastening operation. This example shows the user was instructed to perform 10 fastening operations (rundowns) within the systems’ pre-configured parameters of torque at 6.00Nm and angle at 6°. The history of process steps the line worker performed are shown as lines 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37.

In steps 33 and 34, the worker performed a successful fastener or bolt rundown as indicated by the result of torque at 6.00Nm and angle at 6°. Green checkmarks and red X’s also signify the DC tool controller’s measurement versus the MES system’s additional verification of that measurement.

Ultimately, the MES system is the final authority on whether the process step passes or fails. On line 33 you can see the fastening operation passed, even though the controller reported an error or no measurement; versus line 37 where the controller passed the process step in err, and hence the MES failed it sensing that torque was too low at 4.00Nm and angle was too low at 4°.

Having passed process steps 33 and 34 we then see step 35 was not successful (as shown with the system reporting an over-torque at 20.00Nm and a high angle tolerance of 20°). Given the result of over torque and high angle the MES system failed the operation and locked out the tool. The worker’s next instruction and recorded process step was to attempt to reverse the fastener or bolt (step 36), and then try the rundown again in step 37 (which the MES did not pass). As the assembly line worker progresses in their daily activities, all the data generated by the worker and devices is recorded in the server database for at-a-glance metrics reporting; which is also accessible from this touchscreen as indicated by the ‘graph icon’ buttons in the right most column.

MES/MOM software empowers manufacturers to turn their product assembly plans into measurable actions on the plant floor. It enables manufacturers to rethink the way they physically control the assembly line by creating a closed-loop of accountability on the plant floor, by monitoring and controlling every single process step performed in the making of the finished product. Only with this high level of process step and cycle time critique can a manufacturer ensure total error-proofing with maximized product quality and improved manufacturing efficiency. It is the physical process step activities by human and machine that ultimately make a finished product; therefore, any manufacturer that fool proof’s their assembly line activities is guaranteed improved product quality and manufacturing efficiency.

Anthony Borges is the marketing manager at PINpoint Information System. He offers more than a decade of manufacturing optimization knowledge, with an aptitude for solving problems which increase manufacturing efficiency. He has successfully provided solutions to various multinational manufacturers involving the latest technology in sensors, laser (detection, measurement, welding, cutting, and marking systems), PLC, machine vision, microscope and software solutions.

PINpoint Information System says its MES/MOM software is meticulously designed and tested to ‘Information Technology Infrastructure Library’ (ITIL) standards before any official version release. The MES/MOM and Andon communications products have been developed since 1997 and continue to be evolved and pushed-forward by their customers, notes the company. Headquartered in Burlington, Ont., PINpoint services industry internationally from offices in Canada, the U.S., and China.

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