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In a breakthrough for wireless real-time data collection on the factory floor, a new South American assembly plant has chosen a combination of the GaugeFlex wireless data collection system developed by I&R Partners, and rugged mobile computers from Janam Technologies.
The GaugeFlex system collects variable data using digital torque wrenches with a wireless transceiver, with data sent wirelessly to a mobile Janam XM60+. From there, the data is transferred across the wireless network to the host PC. Calipers, micrometers and any other digital or serial measurement instruments can also be connected wirelessly.
Other assembly plants have proven the technology: “The tool is working great, and we have only begun to scratch the surface of the capabilities. We are using it for our daily body measurements including gap and levelness and we have already got the CSV files set up to transfer to our graphs,” said Toyota Motor Manufacturing in a testimonial. Adds Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America: “The entire team at I&R Partners has been very supportive and I look forward to working with them again in the future.”
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Paul Iannello, CEO of I & R Partners, to tell us about the benefits, for automotive manufacturers, of using the GaugeFlex system along with Janam’s XM60+ rugged mobile computers.
Iannello: For decades manufacturers have relied on archaic tools and methods for controlling manufacturing processes. From paper and pencil to manual data entry, the lag time from measurement to analysis created extensive waste. Scrap, rework, sorting, lost customers, liability, and warranty claims resulting from the inefficiencies cost manufacturers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
GaugeFlex eliminates the data lag time and puts control of the manufacturing process where it belongs, in the hands of the operator. The system, powered by the Janam XM60+, delivers immediate feedback, allowing plant operators to make adjustments, address problems and prevent production lots from falling out of specification. GaugeFlex, which is the only wireless mobile gauging solution, helps reduce or even eliminate waste. In the automotive manufacturing industry this is essential “because Lean always starts at the Waste”.
AI: How did the South American OEM zero in on your companies’ products?
Iannello: The South American OEM had purchased torque wrenches from I & R Partners’ South American distributor. This OEM, a large automotive manufacturer in Bogota, Colombia, also asked about a wireless gauging solution for collecting data from torque wrenches. The OEM found the GaugeFlex wireless data collection system met its requirements, including ruggedness and an ability to perform in challenging environments.
AI: How will your products be used in the South America plant?
Iannello: With GaugeFlex Shopfloor software, an operator can request inspection files while on the shop floor, which are promptly downloaded from the wireless network. Pictures, specifications and instructions are at the operator’s fingertips. After entry of critical traceability information, the operator is ready to start taking torque readings, and the break-away torque value is captured automatically. Samples, which appear on the 3.5” color touch screen display, are presented so the operator can check for warnings, as well as well as a number of control charts such as Xbar/Range, Histograms, Cpk Evolution and statistics. If quality issues arise, the operator is immediately notified and prompted for causes and corrective action. When the subgroup is complete, the operator can send it back on the wireless network, which does a double error check to insure data integrity.
This particular customer also plans to implement the GaugeFlex attribute analysis capability, which uses the 1D/2D barcode scanner to collect data like Go/NoGo, and visual defect data. Scratches, dents and other attributes can be collected, weighted, and location identified. Finally the defects are charted on P, Np, C, and U charts. Quantitative as well as qualitative pareto analyses are very valuable.
AI: What are some of the recent tech¬nological innovations made in the data collection systems for manufacturing?
Iannello: In the past, data collection systems for manufacturing utilized proprietary operating systems. Now, with Windows CE and Windows Mobile operating systems, other applications can be accessed on the same system. As a result, production, inventory, assembly, quality and any other departments can use the same system.
Another innovation is wireless technology. Problems with cabling for gauges and networks, such as cost, interference, and accidents, are now history. Operators can work anywhere in the facility, and information is available at the point of activity. Also important to note is that GaugeFlex developed a 900 MHz wireless transceiver because of the growing concern within the automotive manufacturing sector regarding potential robotic interference from 2.4 GHz devices. We are currently the only company that offers a 900 MHz mobile wireless data collection system. Janam has helped GaugeFlex take this one step further, with cable cups that enable GaugeFlex to collect wired data from all types of gauges with outputs.
Automotive Industries asked Harry B. Lerner, CEO of Janam, what makes the relationship with I & R Partners such an effective collaboration.
Lerner: Janam and I & R Partners work together on many levels, from creating technical solutions that excite customers to generating marketing materials that support those solutions. Communication is, of course, a fundamental component of this highly effective collaboration. In addition, I would highlight two unique and seemingly contradictory factors underlying the success of the partnership: shared purpose and distinct expertise.
Janam is focused on rugged mobile computers and I & R Partners knows manufacturing processes and quality control inside-out. The skilled know-how and proficiency each team brings to the table broadens the resulting solution’s impact as a whole. We share a results-driven mentality, but come to it from different angles.
AI: What do your rugged mobile solutions offer automotive OEMs?
Lerner: Janam delivers rugged mobile computers with the right features at the right price. What this means for the South American manufacturing facility and automotive OEMs alike is that we build high-quality, affordable products that survive in tough environments and have the features needed to get the job done. Furthermore, the fact that this deployment occurred in South America shows that automotive OEMs in any part of the world can count on Janam to support large-scale rollouts in the most remote geographies.
AI: What are some of the benefits for automotive companies in using your products?
Lerner: A high level answer to that question is increased efficiency through real-time decision-making and support for mission critical operations. In more detail, benefits include:
Optimal overall size/weight to screen size ratio – Mobile workers require a device that is fully rugged, small and light enough to carry all day but also has a display that maximizes viewability and enables comfortable application use. The XM Series is the only fully rugged PDA that weighs less than 10 ounces and has a full 3.5” display.
Computing performance – With their powerful processors and double data rate (DDR) memory platform, the XM66 and XM60+ deliver rapid memory access, fast data acquisition and reduced power consumption, all of which lead to enhanced productivity.
Ruggedness – Mobile businesses need handheld computers that will survive continual operation and heavy wear, impact, vibration, dust, moisture and other environmental extremes. Janam’s XM Series products withstand multiple 4’ drops to concrete and are sealed to IP54. Their ability to withstand extreme use protects against downtime and leads to faster return on investment.
Advanced barcode scanning – Omni-directional scanning enables users of XM Series products to scan barcodes from any orientation. This speeds throughput and enhances productivity. The products also feature field-upgradable 2D barcode scanning. This protects companies’ investment because the devices are ready to adapt to changing business needs.
Fast reliable WLAN communication – Summit WiFi radios deliver fast roaming, unparalleled range, security, network performance and radio control.
AI: What are some of the technological advances Janam is planning for its rugged mobile computing solutions?
Lerner: Janam’s top priority is to extend the benefits that customers experience from adopting the right features at the right price. We will continue to make technology advancements that enhance the value proposition of enterprise-ready rugged mobile computing. For instance, adopting mobile double data rate (DDR) memory from the cell phone industry, as Janam recently pioneered in its product line, enables products to run faster and last longer on a battery charge without any degradation or sacrifice in performance. As an example of Janam’s commitment to value-driven mobility, this is in stark contrast to the adoption by some, of the two-finger touch displays for zooming in/out which may result in increased display failure rate and/or much shorter product life than the usual 5-7 years.
The level of interest in our value-driven mobility model has been highly rewarding. We intend to broaden the reach of this philosophy with products and support for partners like I & R Partners that embrace the message and meaning behind it.