Industry 4.0 Project Walkthrough at Silicon Halton

Esprida provided a real-life walkthrough of Smart Factory / Industry 4.0 project from needs assessment / business case creation / solution design at Silicon Halton. In this talk, we discussed use cases scenarios for production managers, supervisors and operators, and show cased related software interfaces and hardware sensors used to retrofit onto old manufacturing equipment.

Esprida worked with a metal fabrication plant that had a large welding department. The company manufactured a variety of items such as Metal Trellis, brackets and fixtures, and as a result, most metal components needed to be welded together.

The challenge they had was that most of their welding machines were manual and productivity varied dramatically between welder to welder, and day-to-day. They wanted to put in a measurement system so operators could see how they were doing compared to the past, and supervisors could track progress without measuring productivity bothering operators.

The welders they had were very old, purchased in the mid ’80s and didn’t have any network connectivity or PLC controllers to extract data about the operator, part, contacts or number of welds. The welding machines were controlled by a foot pedal that lowered the electrodes until a connection was made.

Custom Industry 4.0 Welding Sensor

Esprida installed a custom sensor specifically designed for welding machines. The sensor is a digital counter that tracks the number of welds made. The sensor was tucked away inside the welding cabinet so it doesn’t interfere with operator functions in any way.

Spot Welding Machine

Operator Smart Factory Tablet

Each station was fitted with a tablet, it enabled operators

  • to lock / unlock the welding machines when they login
  • enter in a part number
  • enter in part quantity
  • enter work order number
Industry 4.0 Operator Tablet

This tablet also provided the operator a constant status on the number of welds per part, number of parts remaining and allowed them to give feedback when things slowed down (i.e. waiting for materials).

Supervisor Dashboard

The supervisor dashboard was configured to show the status of all welding cells within a department. It quickly allowed the supervisor to see which operator was fast/slow, and ask why, and also see how many parts were remaining on an order and quickly estimate when the operator will be complete and ready to start a new task.

Supervisor Dashboard

Results

This project was a quick implementation for esprida, It took advantage of custom sensor technology capabilities we tend to use when trying to get Industry 4.0 automation on old machines and productivity.

The new measurement system and dashboard saved me 30 minutes a day, and increased welder productivity by 12%.

Plant Supervisor

The system made welders and supervisors more aware of welds per part, how long it takes to complete a part, and also reduced the supervisor interactions with welders. The welders who were slower discovered that they were doing extra welds which were slowing them down. Reducing the number of welds made more consistent quality and performance between all welders. Initially, there was some resistance from welders but was better received when they realized the supervisor was interrupting the process less often, and they had an opportunity to explain (rather than being blamed) why things were slow.

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