Because of the number of vehicles involved in the program, the work is similar to that of conventional assembly in a high-mix low-volume environment, or that of companies doing semi-custom assembly. Specific challenges include accounting for or reconciling parts; tracking repair information; facilitating communications, especially in the event of special customer requests; providing work instructions to operators; and ensuring product traceability.
To make all this possible, the company implemented Inspect-brand visual-inspection software from quality assurance technology provider ASI DataMyte Inc. (Plymouth, MN), which provides a detailed visual record for each cable as it is processed.
“The system provides a major improvement in communication,” says DRS Laurel Technologies quality engineer Bob Sewalish. “There is no question about what needs to be done. It’s not like somebody putting a tag on a cable that says ‘Do this list of things,’ then having the tagged cable go down to the repair area, only to have the repair person ask, ‘What did you mean by this?’… The communication part of the system is phenomenal.”
The refurbishment processes begins when DRS Laurel Technologies receives a crate with all of a particular vehicle’s wire harness assemblies, after which an operator prints out a complete set of labels based on the vehicle’s serial number. The harnesses are then cleaned, labeled and individually scanned, initiating the visual record for each part.
After the harnesses have been entered in the system, an inspector determines what work needs to be done and marks up the visual images accordingly. He then places the cables in totes for routing. Cables requiring no repair move to the electrical test area. Cables to be repaired go to a repair station, where they are scanned to display a visual record of the work that needs to be done and an employee responds accordingly.
“With the visual image everything is highlighted that needs repair,” Sewalish says. “It’s all pictorial. Team members can look at the picture and compare it to the physical cable in their hand and know what to do with it. When the repair is complete, they click on it and mark it ‘repaired.’ Now we know who repaired it and when it was repaired. It’s all recorded on a simple pictorial.”
Once the repairs are complete, the cable passes on to a testing station where an inspector scans the cable, reviews both the visual record and the physical cable, and logs the inspection into the cable’s visual record. If the item passes, it moves to a shipment prep area where it is packed as part of rebuild kit, comprised of specific boxes packed in a specific order. At the rebuild site, each box is delivered to the workstation where it will be installed on the correct vehicle.
“When we go to pack the boxes again, we scan the cables for serial and part number information, and also input the box number into the system. If the customer has a question about a cable, we can tell them the exact box we placed the cable in,” Sewalish says.
For more on tracking and inspection software, call 800-207-5631 or visit www.asidatamyte.com.