Torque control is a core process that is often vital to a successful manufacturing strategy. However, fasteners can be a significant source of poor quality and scrap that negatively impacts production. When companies are unable to improve the process in-house, they look for outside assistance - which is usually a search that begins and ends at new hardware. This article explores how to improve torque processes without expensive hardware, and instead how to combine current capabilities with Manufacturing Execution System (MES) control to drive zero defects.
First, a case against over-investment in hardware: while there are modern tooling solutions on the market to solve a variety of torque problems, these hardware solutions have a number of pitfalls. Current “smart” tools are islands of automation and have limited knowledge of overall part requirements or mistake-proofing beyond tightening. Fastening controllers are time consuming to change, especially when adding or adjusting for new models, changes in the line, and different build options. Additionally, hardware solutions lack security and revision control to prevent change of specification and improper change management. Finally, new hardware is expensive, often requiring single-sourcing a vendor which limits cost competition and choice of the best fastening solution for each fastener.
In comparison, Manufacturing Execution System control of fastening solves these problems and more. An MES system connects the entire manufacturing process and has knowledge about every build task, including the following advantages:
Active Mistake-Proofing: An MES station displays the relevant work instructions, and then actively controls all devices to complete the work successfully. For example, MES knows what torque and angle specification is required for a specific bolt and part/model/option, and controls the tightening to specification – while also ensuring the correct parts are used.
Sequencing of Tasks and Stations: MES controls the entire assembly line to ensure incomplete parts or defects are not passed down the line. The same control is exercised in-station to build each part to its required specifications and to enforce the Control Plan for failures.
Advanced Traceability: An effective MES system includes comprehensive Birth Certificate functionality to verify and record every result, including as-built images – and repair results.
Change Management: The ability to record and document changes is an essential part of an MES system. Only certified users can make changes, and only the most current, approved documentation and specifications are used in production.
Return-on-Investment: Oftentimes, the cost of an MES station with a simple Ethernet connected tool is cheaper than attempting to approach similar functionality with new torque hardware, while providing exponentially more features and intelligence such as: visual work instructions, component verification, serialization, defect tracking, OEE and KPI reporting, Quality Alerts, BOM integration, part labels, and more.
Discover how an advanced Manufacturing Execution System solution drives total quality results for your company.