Using In-Process Testing for the "Perfect" Assembly Lineby James Rawstron on January 19, 2017 From News And Comment, Technology
In-process testing is a new approach to quality control that is extremely effective in helping manufacturers perfect the assembly line. It involves monitoring each station, storing data about each component, confirming functionality at the point of production, and uncovering insights that can improve the organization’s process and drive company-wide efficiencies. By tracking assembly line activity in this way, manufacturers can accomplish a variety of important objectives:
Identify defects as soon as possible.
If a problem occurs on the assembly line, in-process testing increases the likelihood that the issue is discovered immediately – before it affects the end product. If the problem is identified downstream, the stored data may be used to perform root cause analysis, which can pinpoint the process step in question and prevent a recurrence of the defect.
Reduce costs and complexity.
In-process testing is very different from the end-of-line testing many manufacturers continue to rely on, which involves waiting until after a component is assembled to check for functionality and quality.
When end-of-line testing is used exclusively and a defect is discovered, cycle time and materials are wasted and the assembled parts need to be completely reworked to correct the issue. By catching the defect while the part is still on the assembly line, in-process testing reduces both labor and material costs and complexity for manufacturers.
Enable process traceability.
Process traceability provides manufacturers with detailed records about how each component was assembled. If a part is defective in some way, these records allow engineers to easily fix the problem – eliminating any guesswork.
Improve quality control.
Tracking individual parts along the assembly line makes it easy for manufacturers to improve quality and isolate components that don’t meet their standards. For example, the information collected via in-process testing can limit the scope of recalls by tracing defects back to an isolated batch of parts.
Ensure reliability on the assembly line.
Through in-process testing, manufacturers can measure the functionality of each individual component while it’s being assembled. This ensures that the assembly line is as reliable as possible and consistently delivers parts that work as intended.
James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.