Traceability, Error Proofing, and Operator Instructions for Value Chain Quality Issues

Argonaut: Global Solutions with Quality Traceability & Error Proofing

A multi-national Tier 1 supplier was challenged to reduce the cost of quality (COQ) across global multi-facility operations and prevent defective parts from being released to its end-customer; a global OEM automotive manufacturer. The solution would need to leverage serialized material production data to control quality as far upstream as possible with the goal of preventing defective parts from being shipped to downstream assembly facilities, and ultimately, the end customer. The requirements of this project were to integrate both automated and manual inspection processes, i.e “quality gates”, into the production process as well as provide guided operator instructions with an interactive interface to enable operator input and approval. In addition, as the value stream crossed multiple facilities, the receiving facility should be able to validate quality upon receiving the part and before the part is installed into a final assembly.

Key Benefits:

  • Reduced Cost-Of-Quality (COQ) and Warranty Costs
  • Increased Customer Satisfaction and Credibility
  • Full Life-Cycle Material Traceability
  • Real-Time Access to Material Production Data
  • Automated Decision Control
  • Manual (Operator Inspection) Process Integration
  • Serialized Part and Lot Quarantine Management
  • Global Post Production Genealogy and Birth Certificate reporting

Full life-cycle material management across processes and globally distributed facilities

The Argonaut™ platform implemented tracking technology to create awareness of material position throughout the entire production process. In this use case, all material was serialized, and a robust method of material identification, leveraging hand scanners and bar code technology was used to track that serialized material throughout the production process.

One of the Argonaut’s core strengths is a capability to integrate and track process data generated by robots and machine control systems, torque tools, hand scanners, and human touch–screen input, throughout the entire life cycle of a material.

Production data associated with a serialized material can be federated between distributed facilities, resulting in access to all upstream production data for a serialized material.

Access to upstream process data enables real-time automatic and operator-driven quality control decisions

The ability for any process to be able to access any upstream production data for a serialized material enables integrated “Intelligence” that Argonaut uses to drive behavior, automated decision making, and routing.

Argonaut is also capable of presenting an interactive display to operators driven by a dynamic configuration engine that will customize the user interface and screen behavior to the specific attributes and history of the material and the specifications of the process. Operators can use upstream material production data, presented through the Argonaut operation station, to make manual approvals and decision in scenarios where automation is not appropriate or possible.

Configurable, easy-to-use, human interactive capable system

As mentioned prior, the Argonaut platform provides an easy-to-configure human interface that leverages up-stream production data to drive both the appearance and behavior of the screen in real-time. Each operator station interface can be configured to conditionally present process-specific content, prompt an operator for interaction, or dynamically display integrated media based on what the system “knows” about the serialized material, current process and specifications of the operation.

In this use case, operator station screens were configured to guide the operator through several critical operations that had historically been the point of entry for chronic quality issues. The screen design and behavior was dynamically driven by conditional logic using upstream production data.

As part of the process and screen configuration, Argonaut collected data to the material and enforced conditional logic resulting in implementation of quality gates throughout critical operations in the production process.


Configurable Batch Quality Sampling

One of the requirements presented by the customer was the ability to apply a “lot and sample” strategy that would route a subset of each 100 part lot to inspection operations after critical welding operations.

Executing this requirement leveraged Argonaut’s ability to apply metadata to material as it sequentially passed through critical operations. Argonaut’s process configuration provided the capability to create a Lot for every N pieces of material that passed through a pre-defined process or operation, associate the Lot number to the material, and configure a calculation to identify which material within each Lot that would be routed to the inspection process for sampling.

The Lot number and inspection results were able to be collected as production data to each material, providing a historical record of quality control results that is forever associated with each material.

Serialized part and lot quarantine management capability

As part of the quality control, if any of the sampled material failed any of the weld inspection processes along the production route, all material associated with that failed Lot were considered quarantined and a data record of the quarantine status was collected to each serialized material in the Lot. All material in a quarantined state was individually inspected for faults and required a Pass status to proceed, identifying and containing quality-challenged material from shipping and significantly controlling the cost of quality.

Global part genealogy and Birth Certificate reporting

Argonaut’s track and traceability feature, combined with advanced process definition and operation configuration provided the capability to collect production data, automatic routing, and operator data entry, (including manual inspection and approval), to each serialized material. In this use case, the entire life-cycle of each serialized material, including all quality assurance data points, were collected and available in several different standard Argonaut reports including the material Birth Certificate. As the entire life-cycle of the serialized material crossed multiple facilities, collected material process data could be easily validated by downstream operations and facilities.


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