Industry 4.0 and the human factor
The rise of automation and the adoption of Industry 4.0 ‘intelligent’ tools is helping us produce more bespoke solutions to customer requirements, particularly in high tech sectors like the automotive and aerospace industries. Ford’s apocryphal selling slogan that ‘you can have any color as long as it’s black’ has long been consigned to history. Now, even the most basic car brand offers a wide selection of colors and features which make every order unique. This level of customization raises new challenges around the role of humans in the production process, particularly around skills development and error reduction.
In the past, an assembly worker was valued because they could perform the same task competently on the same line day after day. In today’s more flexible manufacturing environment that same worker may be required to rivet body panels one shift and wire up a lighting system on the next. Traditional training in all these skills takes time – and the pace of technological change can render such learning obsolete very quickly. So how can we ensure that modern assembly workers feel valued and competent, and can access the information they need to complete diverse tasks efficiently and without error?
Desoutter’s answer is PivotWare, a comprehensive process control platform that guides operators through a specific set of assembly tasks as part of an automated process. A graphic and textual display shows them exactly what tools to use, what components to apply and where to fix them. The system verifies that each step has been completed correctly before allowing the operator to move to the next stage. The platform is programmable by the customer using software tools provided, so responsiveness to changes in production requirements is unhampered by any need for specialist intervention.
As automation continues to create new roles and new challenges, intuitive human-machine interfaces like PivotWare will become increasingly important. Not only does this platform deliver improved quality, reduced rework and increased volume production in automated environments, it also supports validation and traceability requirements.
Following a controlled launch in the US and China, PivotWare is now available globally.
Small is beautiful – but challenging to make
Miniaturisation has stimulated major advances in design and transformed our expectations about the level of functionality we can expect from products ranging from washing machines to aeroplanes For example, within the last 30 years, mobile phones have shrunk from being the size and weight of a brick to something smaller than a chocolate bar and offer a wealth of connectivity options. Similarly, our cars are no longer simply a mode of transport: they are comfortable, air-conditioned capsules with entertainment and navigation aids built in, capable of self-monitoring and interaction with the user on aspects like traffic conditions, fuel consumption and service requirements.
For automotive suppliers, these advances bring enormous benefits – but they also bring challenges, particularly during production. Electrification and miniaturised components not only require smaller fasteners, but also commonly use a mix of materials; combining advanced plastics with more traditional metals. Today, assembly lines therefore need to be capable of accommodating different fastening strategies by offering precise control speeds and much lower torque. They also need to support the need for traceability throughout the supply chain.
It is clear that we need new assembly solutions to ensure that, while our components and products may be small, they are perfectly formed. Desoutter has responded to the challenge by developing the Nano Driver, a new transducerized electric screwdriver designed to meet the production challenges facing the miniaturization of components within different industries . The tool has numerous features to help users deliver extreme precision in small fastening applications, whether used manually or as part of a full automated production process.
The Nano Driver’s inbuilt transducer directly measures and controls the torque as well as guaranteeing traceability. It features seating detection tightening strategy to ensure that components are fastened perfectly and without damage to the host material and also has a programmable vacuum system with an integral accelerometer, which improves visibility and accessibility in limited spaces.
The design and mechanics perfectly fit automated systems; embedded screwfeeding system are also proposed for complete stations.
Easily programmable, the Nano Driver is supported using Desoutter’s existing CVIXS controller and software. It is also compatible with universal protocols including Fieldbus, Profinet and Modbus, enabling the tool to integrate with most end-user communications platforms.
Car makers accelerate transition from pneumatic to electric reaction-free tooling!
The E-PULSE is the first fully electric pulse tool on the market that offers a complete transformation from pneumatic to electric reaction-free assembling tooling.
The flexibility of modern automotive assembly plants is a sight to behold. These days, it’s not uncommon to see completely different car models being produced on the same production line, with absolutely no delay.
That sort of adaptability requires the seamless integration of advanced robotic systems. Just as crucially, it also calls for assembly line workers to perform their tasks in the most efficient and productive manner possible.
These demands are driving the uptake of new handheld tools across the automotive sector. An example of this is the E-PULSE Low Torque Reaction Electric Tool, already adopted by a number of manufacturers including Toyota and Hyundai, which features a patented pulse mechanism meaning that the tool gives no torque reaction to the operator.
The benefits of the tool are clear. Its reaction-free and fully programmable operation, in combination with low weight and ergonomic design, means operators can go about their tasks with full control. With no judder coming through the tool, the fastening of nuts and screws can be conducted with one hand. This flexibility contributes to greater productivity, delivering a ‘point and shoot’ solution at speeds of nearly 5000rpm (equivalent to an air tool) with a 30% reduction in the time required to find bolt locations.
The torque reaction-free operation also makes the tool more comfortable to use. E-PULSE does not expose workers to the sorts of forces through the hand and arm that can lead to harmful repetitive strain injuries. Ultimately, this can lead to a reduction in the amount of health-related absenteeism, boosting plant productivity.
It’s not just the operators that benefit from using the E-PULSE - there’s a positive impact on user cost and maintenance, too. An air-less electric tool uses less energy than its pneumatic counterpart, and its oil-free operation provides a clear environmental advantage. The tool is also fitted with a virtually maintenance-free electric motor and it comes with a long-life gear box, decreasing calibration frequency on the production line.
Use of the E-PULSE also provides OEMs with full traceability. Programmable torque control and angle monitoring delivers predictable and repeatable quality. Torque output for each job can be recorded and stored, providing companies with a valuable audit trail of production data for future assessment.
Historically, automotive companies have been market leaders in the adoption of electric tool technologies. But other sectors are following suit. The aerospace industry, for instance, also demands extremely high levels of flexibility and traceability within its production plants, and interest in products such as E-PULSE is growing. Domestic appliance makers, meanwhile, are also looking to improve the quality and reliability of their white goods, and the shift from pneumatic to electric tools is a relatively low-cost means of achieving that aim.
Ultimately, forward-thinking companies recognise that they have to invest in the latest technologies if they want to achieve long-term improvements in production efficiency. Put simply, to achieve quality insurance, simplified maintenance and operator comfort, you have to make sure your workers have the right tools for the job.
Discover the Multi Battery Tools Solution by Desoutter!
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Cable transducerised tools have been used for safety critical applications for a long time.
Now with Multi Battery Tools solution from Desoutter Industrial Tools we can decrease footprint on the assembly lines with the same performance and more ergonomics for operators due to no cables. All with 100% full traceability and error proofing which are requested for such demanding applications.