In mass production, even one gram of material savings per item can yield substantial cost savings. This is often done on the basis of analyses and (subsequent) calculation, and determined over a longer period of time and a multitude of production runs. Real-time adjustment of consumables during a production run however is, as far as we know, quite unique. We ran into this opportunity while performing a quality analysis for a customer.
In coating plants, pipes are coated with various layers using our equipment. These may include an anti-corrosion layer of fusion bonded epoxy and a plastic coating for mechanical protection. To ensure quality and consistency, these layers have at least a minimum thickness and often a maximum as well. In order to save costs, customers logically prefer to stay as close as possible to the minimum requirement. Together with a fellow company, we have developed a sensor that measures layer thicknesses. Not a static one, because those already exist, but one that moves along with the product very close to the production process.
Adjusting usage during production
The solution consists of a probe that is placed on a robot and, while moving with it, takes about a thousand measurements per second. These measurements are displayed in real time in a graph so that the layer thickness can be adjusted during the coating process by making the machine run faster or slower. Because previously measurements were done afterwards by one or two employees, personnel costs are saved as well as material costs. As the employee(s) no longer have to maneuver on and around the tubes, safety is enhanced on the fly.
Logging and applying all relevant production data such as diameter, layer thickness, date and time of production on the product by marking also offers the possibility to improve traceability and to simplify the approval process. As far as we are concerned, it only makes sense that machine builders are becoming increasingly proactive in the field of quality control towards Industry 4.0. With all kinds of great applications that come along with it and that can be applied far beyond the piping industry.
Wondering how quality inspection with robots can help your organization too? Just call your sales contact or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org