QMT Features: October 2016
Check it twice
A US automotive supplier uses weighing to automatically verify parts

Mistakes happen—especially when workers complete repetitive manual tasks, such as parts counting. In an effort to meet customer requirements and ensure its boxes contain the exact number of pieces, a top engine valve supplier to the automotive industry added an automatic second check for each shipment.

US Engine Valve ran into a problem when an important automotive manufacturing customer required the company to upgrade its verification system for counting engine valves.

Although the company has supplied top-notch engine valves to the automotive industry since 1987, its verification process had room for improvement. To meet this important customer’s demands, it had to incorporate a two-step automated check of counts for each shipment. Previously, US Engine Valve operators visually checked the number of engine valves in each box and recorded it manually. As with any manual process using hand-written record-keeping, mistakes can easily be made.

US Engine Valve Manufacturing Engineer Joshua Robinson contacted Mettler Toledo distributor Everest Scale to find a solution. The solution was a combination of the ICS685 Weighing Terminal and the PBD655 Bench Scale Platform. This intelligent combination paved the way to improve record verification, efficiency and accuracy – all while dramatically reducing human errors.

With this new system implemented, electronic verification has reduced the errors that could have cost the company reputational damage and affected the bottom line. The ICS685’s colorWeight feature clearly indicates if the target weight range has been reached. The colour indicator allows operators to quickly determine whether the package weight is correct with a quick flash of a green light. Errors are shown with a red or yellow screen, meaning the count is off and the box either has too few or too many parts inside. In addition, the ICS685 stores accurate weight records of each box shipped.

The terminal’s memory allows the data to be stored and transferred to another device for a third check, if needed. With memory enabled, the scale records all transactions internally and these can be extracted into a CSV file via a USB drive or by connecting to DatabICS software. The memory cannot be edited or tampered with, which helps operators ensure that the results shown are the actual transactions that occurred over the scale. The credible results can be compared to the manually written records to locate discrepancies.

Besides enhancing its accountability, US Engine Valve’s production line has become more efficient and it takes less time to move products through the production line.

Mr Robinson says: “Saving time has been a big benefit and improved record accuracy have been extremely helpful.”

His company has been able to catch errors before shipments get to customers, which has increased overall customer satisfaction. He says this was the first time he had heard of using scales for counting validation.

In the future, US Engine Valve plans to use weighing equipment for complete inventory tracking.
Mr Robinson adds: “Our inventory records have increased significantly, allowing us to look at discrepancies between when we have downtime and when we’re operating.”
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