Error-proofing on the assembly line is one of the most critical aspects of quality control for both operators and engineers. Error-proofing during the fastening process is one area that requires special attention because operators can make a variety of mistakes while installing fasteners. These problems range from operator fatigue to inattention or more simply put, being in a rush.
Product errors and defects can arise due to not arranging workstations and equipment correctly, skipping processing steps, incorrect processing, missing parts and selecting the wrong parts. Manufacturers then need to pay the price for what can be costly mistakes over time.
In the 1940s, Edward Deming introduced error-proofing to the United States, but it grew in popularity in Japan in the 1950s. This is where the Japanese concept of poka-yoke (POH-Kah YOH-Kah) became popularized by Shigeo Shingo. Back then, error-proofing was done by inspectors physically standing on the production line. These days, we can enjoy error-proofing using technological advancements in the manufacturing world.
1. Utilizing poka-yoke
Manufacturers rely on error-proofing to proactively stop mistakes from happening, lessen the costs of scrapping, reworking and avoid costly customer warranty claims. A poka-yoke device allows operators to consider the whole assembly process and how it can be improved.
Most poka-yoke devices are affordable and straightforward, with huge ROIs. Aside from assembly design, manufacturers can also reconsider the way the entire line operates. For example, you could adopt a progressive assembly where each operator only adds a single assembly component.
2. Getting more organized can help circumvent errors
Many errors can happen due to disorganization in workstations. Taking the time to label and colour-code part bins will help prevent parts from getting misplaced or misused. Displaying assembly drawings or instructions also make vital information available to operators at all times.
3. Take advantage of automation
Automation is one of the ultimate forms of error-proofing. When using automation, you are far more unlikely to make mistakes. The main challenge with automation is for the assembler to determine whether the production process can and should be automated.
Several factors are involved, including product design, complexity, volume, labour costs, quality, and hardware and software costs. Automation might be necessary because fasteners can be too small to be managed by hand, for example, pins for cellphones or hearing aids. These can be too small to be manually placed.
4. Error-proofing during the fastening process
The fastening process is one area where poka-yoke can help yield tremendous gains. Errors can occur when there are too many screws required by assemblies. Sometimes, fasteners can cause mistakes by missing holes, falling to the ground or inside the assembly or the fastener itself might be defective. Minimizing the amount and types of fasteners involved can enhance error-proofing. But sometimes, it cannot be avoided.
5. Using helpful technologies to your advantage.
Using technologies like smart tool support arms are commonly used in a variety of manufacturing environments. Also known as smart torque reaction arms, these arms allow you to mount power tools onto the arm and track the location of the tool as it moves around the workspace.
How can our Smart Arm and Digital Positioning System help you?
You can take your error proofing to the next level by implementing our smart arm and digital positioning technology at your facility. Our POSITX-3D Torque Arm Positioning System paired with any of our ERGO Series positioning torque arms
With our easy-to-use system, you can upload pictures of your work piece onto the large 7-inch HMI LCD touch screen. You can then program specific tightening sequences with ease. Simply tap on the picture where you want to tag fasteners in your desired sequence that will allow your operator to know exactly what they are doing during the assembly line.
Multiple work pieces can be saved on one machine, and you have the ability to switch between them at your convenience.
The visual feedback will allow you to be sure that your tool is in the correct position, and if not you can easily disable it for reposition. This will allow you to guarantee that no errors are made during the assembly process and keep all of your products up to quality control standards.
The nature of torque or smart arms can also keep the tools properly aligned with the workpiece which can help eliminate cross-threading, broken bits, screw head burrs or out of square fasteners. Smart arms also keep expensive tools from being dropped or misplaced and can also reduce drilling and tapping cycle times.
Error-proofing with the tips outlined above and using a torque reaction arm can help prevent future mistakes. By looking for different ways , manufacturers can lessen or remove errors during the assembly line process.