A major manufacturer of truck engines approached Current Directions to automate their work-in-progress system for their crankshaft line. Their current system was slow, expensive, and prone to errors. Their supervisor could not easily identify where individual crankshafts were within the production line. The crankshafts were often removed from the line and placed to the side in storage racks. This made it almost impossible to find a given crankshaft. The handwritten work-in-progress information, besides being easily misread or misplaced, did not allow the company to detect processing trends. To add to the problem, previous attempts to use bar-coding had failed because the cranks are sent through heat, chemical and shot-blasting processes.
An Intermec 9154 crossbar controller was connected to their host VMS based, VAX system, which runs an Oracle database system. Eight Intermec 9560 bar code transaction managers were installed throughout the production line area.
A control program was developed for the host VAX system to manage each of the 9560 transaction manager sessions via the Intermec 9154 controller. The control program validates and stores the collected data and maintains all aspects of each reader's session.
Temporary, pre-printed bar-code tags are attached to each crankshaft at the start of production. The employees scan the work-in-progress information and temporary bar-codes at each step of processing. As the crankshaft moves through the line, new temporary tags can be added as needed. These temporary identification numbers are all linked to a permanent identification code at the end of production.
Current Directions developed an extensive menu system to query, update, and report on all the files used in tracking the work-in-progress. The provided SQL scripts produce instant access to information (either on-screen or in report form); allowing the quality engineers to track each kind of crankshaft error.
Future plans are to etch the bar code permanently into the crankshaft. At that time the temporary tags may be eliminated.
The company is now able to ascertain the number and condition of the crankshafts at each stage of processing. This information is easily and accurately collected as each portion of the work is completed. The supervisors can locate an individual crank in the process. Because the information is available immediately, the quality engineers can quickly locate any correlation between machines used and crankshaft errors thanks to the detailed error information about every crankshaft. Because problems are noticed and corrected more quickly, the company is saving a significant amount of time and money. Quality control is now possible.