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How IIoT, Testing, and Big Data Work Together to Reduce Recalls

Manufacturing recalls are costly for businesses and damage consumer trust. New manufacturing technology can limit their scope.

Throughout the decades, manufacturers have had to issue large-scale recalls of products and the enormous cost to their business, not to mention damage to their brand’s reputation. In the best circumstances, these recalls have been proactive measures taken by companies who have identified an error early and issued their recall before any serious damage was done to consumers. In some of the most famous cases, the cost of manufacturing errors lead to avoidable fatalities. Clearly, the importance of maintaining high-quality standards is of paramount importance.

 

Fortunately, today’s manufacturers have new technologies on their side to prevent manufacturing errors from occurring in the first place, identifying them before they reach consumers when they do happen, and delivering more targeted recalls that can more effectively trace the affected units. Here are three ways these technologies can be incorporated into the manufacturing process for your business.

 

1. IIoT sensors deliver immediate feedback to a central console.

Production line feedback is the first crucial area where manufacturers can make interventions to improve output should quality begin to slip. If a machine designed to press two components together isn’t using sufficient pressure, or if one designed to dispense an adhesive becomes clogged after a certain period of use, then steps must be taken to adjust the equipment in order to maintain production.

 

In the past, operators were tasked with manually inspecting equipment within a set time period, to make sure it was still operating correctly, or a machine might trigger an alarm or stop production if it wasn’t performing correctly. In modern equipment, this feedback is enabled by sensors that can detect these errors and send out an alert to notify operators. Many sensors now use WiFi or advanced communication protocols to send these notifications directly to operators at a centralized console.

 

These WiFi-equipped machines form what is known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The IIoT streamlines the monitoring process, making it easier for operators to see how all factory equipment is running at a glance. With a full operational overview at their fingertips, they can make informed judgments on when to intervene if necessary, and when to plan maintenance to prevent equipment from breaking down during production runs.

 

2. In-line testing identifies verification failures early.

In-line testing systems work within the IIoT framework to deliver verification feedback at key points in the production cycle. If a product fails a verification check at a certain point within the production cycle, then the cause of the failure can be traced back and identified more readily.

 

In-line testing tools can be adapted to suit a range of applications. Camera-equipped systems can visually inspect hundreds of parts per minute, even moving at high speeds along a production line while laser scanners can detect defects. Other checks might include voltage checks or LED tests for printed circuit boards. These also allow manufacturers to test components before they are assembled into a larger product, so that a flaw can be contained to just one faulty component before it compromises the integrity of the assembled product.

Functional end-of-line testers can be added to your manufacturing processes to mimic how the product will be installed and used in the field.  Because recalls often happen as a result of interactions between different system components, these end-of-line testers are your best tool for preventing recalls.  We can partner with you to develop an end-of-line tester that will meet your applications requirements.

Brad Mathis, New Business Development at Eagle

3. Big data traces a production error back to the root cause.

Despite rigorous testing, some manufacturing errors are not detected until a product hits the market. When a factory recall is necessary, knowing which products were effected is key. Businesses who are able to isolate the cause of a production error, and then match that error to a product code, such as a VIN, a serial number, or an identification number for a computer, can issue more targeted recalls to only those products affected by the error. This can be accomplished through Industry 4.0 Technologies and Smart Machine technology by Eagle.

 

This can only be done if manufacturers are proactive in collecting manufacturing data at each stage of the process. It also usually requires component tracking using barcodes, RFID tags, or other vision technology to trace parts through each stage of the manufacturing process. This allows manufacturers not only to collect data but to match it to specific components. So long as the end product receives an identification number that can be linked to the production data on file, manufacturers can retrieve the production records of any product that later malfunctions, or identify which products were manufactured with equipment that was later discovered to be faulty. By identifying root causes and matching them to specific products, manufacturers can greatly limit the extent of a recall.

 

Advanced technology improves the quality of your product while limiting your liabilities.

Every manufacturer wants to be known for the reliability of their product—not for a high-profile recall. By incorporating advanced automation technologies into your production system, from connected devices with high-quality sensors, in-line testing devices that can spot when a product is failing to pass grade, and databases that can keep track of production data for each part, manufacturers and their suppliers can ensure higher production standards that will safeguard their brand reputation while delivering better goods to consumers.

 

At Eagle, our advanced testing capabilities combined with our expertise in using Industry 4.0 technology means we can deliver factory automation equipment that incorporates each of these systems. In other words, we aren’t just automating production—we’re automating quality. If you would like to learn more about our capabilities and how we use them in our design and development process, contact us. We would be happy to discuss our services with you in greater detail.

 

LinkedIn Brandon Fuller Brandon Fuller, Eagle Technologies

Eagle Technologies, headquarters in Bridgman, MI

Eagle builds the machines that automate assembly line manufacturing. From high-tech robotics to advanced product testing capabilities, Eagle offers end-to-end manufacturing solutions for every industry.

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