Interactive production line assistant

Area of application

  • Manufacturing mass-production components
  • Maintenance of production and assembly lines
  • Information shared between employees

 

The company’s most important customers are automotive suppliers and other automotive companies, to whom it provides HID components. The production and assembly lines stand out with their rapid production rate and consist of many complex process that are controlled by a PLC. With this great complexity, line maintenance is both crucial and time-consuming. It’s vital that employees can collaborate with one another and have a quick and efficient solution ready at hand to remedy problems that occur on the line.

Core functionality

Malfunctions and solutions

The solution offers access to a database of solutions for the most-commonly occurring production problems. It is designed with a direct connection to the production line’s PLC, which allows for the clear and timely classification of problems. The operating personnel are recommended the optimal solution. Solutions are created from the bottom up: Employees create the solutions in the system to support each other and help shape a work environment that is conductive to collaboration. With an evaluation function for solutions and the opportunity to add documentation (videos, photos, texts) to existing solutions, the solution environment constantly develops to better assist the workers.

Process monitoring

Process monitoring offers the operating personnel continuous feedback on the process status. The operating personnel can initiate improvement measures as soon as a negative trend becomes apparent. The process monitoring module is based on a direct connection between the F4W solution and the measurement devices and process parameter logging solutions fitted on the assembly line. This approach “connects” the operators to their machines and increases their awareness of certain process elements.

Shared documents

Employees can immediately access shared documents, which offers them more autonomy and reduces stress caused by missing information. The documents are available in an online library and contain manuals, quality control datasheets, and all the documentation necessary to service the individual components on the assembly line.

Potential application scenarios of the interactive assistant to set-up and service a production line

HID support for complex tasks

After

When Michael begins his shift, he first prints the maintenance checklist to inspect his tasks for the coming week. These instructions on necessary inspections guarantee seamless machine operation. He then schedules a morning meeting with the operating personnel to run through the tasks of each employee. The maintenance processes contain a lot of manual documentation and error corrections of the current IT system. A machine on the assembly line warns that an element should immediately be inspected. Michael has gathered a wealth of experience working on almost all different lines, so he knows how to repair the machine. An operator in the team attempts to solve the problem by replacing a defective part, which takes thirty minutes. Michael subsequently logs the exchanged part in the machine logbook. The internal maintenance team takes care of more comprehensive and complex problems. This ensures that production can be resumed as quickly as possible. Michael sometimes needs to request the assistance of a product technician or electrician. In the afternoon, the production plan requires for the conversion of the assembly line to produce another product. The machines must be adjusted and calibrated for the production of the new products in accordance with the specifications. This requires very precise steps with a host of different inspections. Besides the conversion processes, special adjustments must sometimes be made to the machines to compensate for deviating incoming parts.

Before

Michael starts his shift by assessing recent production events using his new F4W tool. Just like the other members of his team, Michael uses his own F4W tool to access the instructions on the necessary inspections per machine over the coming week. The team members assign inspection tasks to each other. Each operator logs the activities performed on every machine in the new F4W solution. Machine data can be updated and errors corrected in an uncomplicated manner. Michael is delighted that he no longer needs to log his activities on paper and that he can access all information on the machines through his new electronic machine logbook. In the early afternoon, a machine warns that an element should be inspected immediately. Michael checks his electronic machine logbook to inspect what triggered the warning and how he can solve the problem. In this case, he is informed that the malfunction is caused by a defective actuator. An operator from his team immediately exchanges it. The process only takes ten minutes and the operator, Michael, logs the relevant details on the replacement actuator in the machine logbook. If more comprehensive and complex problems occur, the team of operators working on the assembly line first log their new findings in the new F4W solution. This helps the product technicians recommend a solution. The solution is based on the know-how of the line operators and a proactive process-failure analysis of real-time machine operation data. Later in the afternoon, the production plan requires a conversion of the assembly line to a different product. Michael and his team of operators prepare for the conversion with the assistance of the F4W tool as well as special sensors and devices. To convert the machine and prepare it for a new product, data and product information must be entered into the machine. This also requires knowledge of the entire assembly process. The product information is stored in the i4 software system. At the end of the day, the F4W solution offers Michael the opportunity to pass on his knowledge of the assembly line and help train new employees.

HID – Event-controlled maintenance and information sharing

After

When arriving at his workspace in the morning, Robert first checks if there are any machine malfunctions. He makes his round through the production area and checks to see if there are service orders. After a few minutes, the production head assigns him a service order. One of the machines has experienced a major malfunction and grinded to a halt. Robert is tasked with its repair. He walks over to the machine and has a chat with the line operator, who is at that moment looking for a solution, flipping through the pages of the machine logbook – to no avail. Robert calls up the product technician responsible for the machine, to use his wealth of knowledge on the machine and to find a solution together. He then calls up the machine manufacturer who might provide him with more insight into the problem. After the meeting, a solution is found with the help of the information provided by the manufacturer and the collaborative know-how of the operator and technician. Robert orders the special parts from the machine manufacturer. He adds a note to the service order. This note contains some information that might help with future orders. Robert gives the documentation on the service order to his team’s maintenance personnel. The maintenance employees perform the necessary maintenance activities on the machine. They then log the time this takes them and the replacement parts they used in the service document. After completing their activities and the machine is up and running again, the document is returned to the technician responsible for case documentation in the electronic LN software system. Robert consults the system for a breakdown of the costs for the service orders, including all invoices, personnel hours, and materials used. Later in the afternoon, Robert drafts a preventative maintenance checklist and schedule for the machines. Two employees approach Robert to tell him that two machines experienced further malfunctions. He decides to add these two maintenance tasks to the top of the maintenance checklist. Afterwards, he assigns the service orders to his team’s maintenance technicians.

Before

When arriving at his workspace in the morning, Robert first consults his laptop to check if there were any machine malfunctions or service orders assigned to him and his team. A few hours later, Robert’s F4W tool notifies him of a new, urgent service order. He checks the notification and sees that a machine has been halted; the immediate action of him and his team is required. The line operator just added his two cents on the problem in the F4W solution; however, he cannot solve the problem himself. Robert runs through the detailed machine data as well as all notes added by the operating personnel on this particular problem. He then discusses potential solutions with the technician. They reach an agreement on how to remedy this issue. Robert adds information on the problem and how to solve it to the F4W solution. This will help the operating personnel and maintenance team solve similar problems in future. Robert tasks one of his team members with solving the problem. The maintenance technician receives a notification in the F4W tool: A new service order has been added. He checks the order. The maintenance technician runs through the necessary steps on the machine and logs how much time this cost him in the system, together with relevant information on the replacement parts. Later in the afternoon, Robert drafts a preventative maintenance checklist and schedule. He analyses the production and machine data stored in the F4W solution. These help him predict future maintenance activities. The F4W solution is fed with sensor data, and one of the sensors indicates that the measured values approach the permitted limit values. Robert adds this task to the schedule; he will respond to this problem later in the week. Robert is delighted that he spends less time on corrective maintenance activities. The operating personnel can now predict and solve the majority of smaller problems that occur on the production line themselves, using their new F4W solution. This allows Robert to focus more on preventative maintenance and development projects.

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