Category : Manufacturing Process

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What inspection equipment is crucial in manufacturing today

Increasingly complex production processes and ever-accelerating production rates, make the human obsolete for executing the multifarious lightning-fast inspections  necessary to ensure compliance with today’s numerous quality and regulatory requirements. Inspections by human eyes and hands are manufacturing processes of the past. With manual inspection, corrupted products may pass through the entire production process without being discovered until much later. Such a management flaw can put consumers at risk and cause manufacturers enormous recall costs, brand damage, and waste costs.

Automatic inspection processes detect errors at an incomparably higher rate than people can accomplish, bolstering efficiency of production lines. Automated inspections afford reliably repeating inspections. And, they offer precision in capturing performance data, such as rejection rates. These benefits spur quality and conformance improvements that become very significant contributors to customer upgrade and repeat purchase rates, profit margin, and market competitiveness.

Inspections are conducted at so many points along production processes, and by so many interested parties, that it’s dizzying to consider just the number of kinds of tests conducted throughout  the manufacturing industry on an average day—from shop inspections, to second and third party stake-holder site inspections, to ISO and government inspections. Inspection costs alone can represent a significant expense. And, increasingly strict quality standards along with ever-accelerating production rate requirements further increase the cost.

On the other hand, cutting corners on inspection costs predictably prove to be a costly error, escalating risks of comparatively high quality control failure rates and nonconformance rates that can jeopardize a manufacturer’s competitiveness. Optimizing inspection systems doesn’t necessarily mean spending more. However, it does mean manufacturers need to get the most for their investment in manufacturing inspection equipment and processes.

From robotics, to medical equipment and supplies, to food production, inspection and testing plans for incorporating inspection equipment are now driving what has become a robustly innovative inspection equipment industry.

Kinds of inspection

A manufacturing test is performed as part of a particular inspection process for PQR, or for any one of myriad in-process purposes. Just listing, much less explaining, all the tests required for manufacturing is a project far beyond the scope of this article. But, here are listed just a small number of industrial tests, to give merely a sense of how vast the range of inspection types is across the manufacturing industry.

  • Bend, impact, and tension tests
  • Inspection (testing) equipment calibration
  • Radiographic tests
  • Weld Destructive Testing for WPQ
  • Pump, valve, compressor, and pressure vessel inspections
  • Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) of equipment under construction
  • Annealing Heat Treatment, testing temperature change rates and metal properties
  • Corrosion resistance testing
  • Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI)
  • Dimensional inspection
  • Ultrasonic testing
  • Hot working metal properties analysis
  • Electromechanical tensile testing of non-ferrous materials
  • Surface smoothness test (AARH test)
  • Identify breaks or other physical defects on finished products
  • Product mass measurement
  • Package seal inspection
  • Code validations
  • Label affixed and positioned validation
  • Tamper seal closure tests
  • Vision inspection for product conformance and overall packaging integrity
  • Container content and fill level measurement
  • Food, beverage sorting consistency with packaging
  • Product counting

Kinds of inspection equipment

Of course, some inspection technologies can be better investments than others. The challenge is to identify those that can be expected to advance your process improvement and quality objectives, and yield the highest ROI. This is especially true in today’s dynamic environment, in which innovations are so rapidly advancing process capabilities, that state-of-the-art equipment can quickly become obsolete. We have identified a few that appear to have the broadest range of applications across manufacturing, and the greatest overall value in terms of ROI and contribution to branding goals.

1. Barcode scanner

Barcode scanners are used at throughout the supply chain, materials management, production, packaging, warehousing, and shipping, processes, and further at wholesaling and retailing points of sale. Scanners can be linked to materials management systems in order to increment materials inventory counts as products are being produced. As material inventories are depleted, stock counts are updated in real time. Scanners can even interface with database software to confirm a match between a product unit and the barcode assigned to it. Scanners can be used for barcode inspections on:

  • Individual items in bottles or cartons
  • Pallets for X-ray inspection
  • Adhesive printed label sheets for later application
  • Inventory tracking lists and paper ledger entries containing barcodes
  • Stamped or printed barcodes

2. Vision

Vision inspection system equipment automatically identifies a vast array of quality problems that human inspectors cannot detect with comparable consistently. And, these automated camera processes are increasingly fast and wider ranging in the numbers of tasks a camera can manage. The equipment is advancing to produce ever-higher resolution to capture subtle defects. This reduces rates of false rejections by the automated system. Additionally, a vision inspection system can be integrated into automated line processes to catch errors that might otherwise ruin entire lots. This benefit may be enough to account for enough loss savings to realize a favorable ROI.

3. Checkweigh

Checkweigh inspection systems consist of automated checkweigh equipment, usually stationed at the end of the production line. The checkweigher rejects underweight or overweight product units and immediately removes them from the line. The rejection triggers an alert that prompts line workers or supervisors to attend to the fill weight problem, before perhaps thousands of nonconforming products are produced. Some features and benefits of automated checkweigh equipment are:

  • Meet AQS as well as non-AQS (UTML) requirements (But be aware of retailers’ standards.)
  • Constrain tolerances to ensure increased fill process precision
  • Reduce waste to increase profit margin, which cumulatively can add up to staggering savings

4. X-ray

Bits of debris such as rubber, metal, glass, stone, and other opaque that contaminate products can be detected using X-ray technology fitted for manufacturing applications. X-ray equipment can see through a product and its packaging to assess density of contents to distinguish foreign materials from product. X-ray inspection can be used with many packaging types, including cans, jars, bottles, foil, and pouches made of a variety of materials. And X-ray machine is higher priced than metal detection equipment, but it precisely locates the contaminant and shows the line operator exactly where it is to be found inside the product. Modern X-ray equipment is optimal for high-speed manufacturing lines and for producers who need to minimize contaminates to guard against recalls. Today’s sophisticated X-ray equipment for manufacturing quality control can be stationed in-line to:

  • Detect contaminants
  • Identify physical defects
  • Detect broken products
  • Detect missing products
  • Validate integrity of package seals
  • Measure products’ mass

5. Metal detection

Currently, a major issue in food production is contamination by stainless steel and other metals. Modern metal detection equipment for manufacturing can detect metal contaminants in products with high fluid volume. This product inspection equipment is good for use in production systems with need to inspect only for metal contaminants in products. Metal detection equipment is usually stationed at or near the end of the production line to inspect the final product. They are not useful for products in tin cans, or in foil or aluminum packaging, or metallic film. Metal detection machinery works well for inspection of:

  • dry goods like sugar, flour, salt, and others
  • frozen food products
  • numerous other products

For your QM team to ensure quality in daily operations by confirming that processes are optimally efficient in conforming to Operating Procedures, manufacturing inspection equipment affords ideally controlled repeatable inspections. Updating your Quality Management Program technology with automated inspection equipment can take your program a great distance toward:

  • ensuring customer satisfaction
  • overall efficiency of QC systems
  • reduce operating cost
  • minimize material waste
  • reduce instances of product non-conformance
  • reduce risk to customers
  • reduce risk of recalls
  • improve regulatory conformance
  • accomplish PI objectives

If your plant is still using outmoded manual inspection processes, it is probably time to discuss with your SME in manufacturing machinery, possibilities for implementing quality and conformance inspection and identification technologies. You may discover that it is more affordable to procure the equipment and implement its use than it is not to do so.

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Reasons for Optimism in the Manufacturing Industry under President Trump

One of the most polarizing elections in American history is now over and Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Trump promised to boost the American economy by bringing back jobs; however, the manufacturing industry has a right to remain skeptical of this promise. After all, it has been decades since American manufacturing was a strength of the economy. On the other hand, there are numerous reasons for Americans in the manufacturing industry to remain optimistic that manufacturing is on the rise. Numerous polls have already demonstrated that Americans are optimistic about the manufacturing outlook. Why is that?

President Trump has Promised to Lower Corporate Taxes

One of the biggest problems with the loss of manufacturing jobs to overseas is the high corporate tax rates imposed on American corporations, notably 35 percent. President Trump has promised to lower this tax rate to around 15 percent. This translates into more money in the pockets of the companies that they can then use to hire more employees and invest in the company. Companies may be interested in investing money in CNC automation technology. With lower corporate taxes, this can happen.

President Trump has Said he will Increase Infrastructure Spending

An increase in infrastructure spending will demand an increase in manufacturing jobs because, without the increase in manufacturing, there will be nothing to build this infrastructure out of. This means that companies will need to produce the materials used to build this infrastructure. This means more jobs in the manufacturing sector and more dollars heading into CNC manufacturing. There will be a significant amount of pressure on manufacturing companies to deliver the goods to fulfill the promises of the new president. This means a heavy investment in manufacturing jobs and manufacturing technology.

President Trump is Going to Renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Also called the TPP, this agreement has drawn the ire of the entire manufacturing industry because this is seen as the culprit that led to the massive job loss and movement of manufacturing opportunities overseas. President Trump has promised to renegotiate this deal, leading to bigger benefits for US corporations that keep their jobs at home. This means that more companies are going to need to hire skilled manufacturing workers to fill these positions. Those interested in positions in the manufacturing industry should keep their eyes open for changes to this agreement.

President Trump will Alter the North American Free Trade Agreement

This deal has been called NAFTA and has led to a significant trade deficit with our trading partners. This deficit has placed a significant amount of pressure on American companies, specifically the manufacturing industry, because they feel they are fighting an uphill battle in the global market. A renegotiation of this deal in favor of American manufacturing could help to keep more companies in business, keeping more jobs available in the American economy. All of these reasons have combined to generate a positive outlook for the manufacturing industry under the new President.

Contact Tag Team Manufacturing today for all your cnc manufacturing needs. 303.841.5697.

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The Wave of Robotics Manufacturing

It’ll be a long time before we see the rise of Skynet, the global artificial intelligence that controlled an army of robotic warriors as depicted in the movie Terminator, but robots are already very much a part of our lives and will be even more so in the very near future.

There are already almost a million robotic machines at work around the world in a variety of automation manufacturing roles, and with rapidly developing technologies, and falling costs, that number is expected to grow almost exponentially over the next two decades.

In the 1980s, almost all robots were used in the auto industry. Today they are used in many different industries for robotics manufacturing, as well as in warehouses, hospitals, laboratories, nuclear power plants, and more.

Some futurists are predicting that by the year 2055 at least 50% of the manufacturing jobs that are now performed by humans will be done by robots. Ready or not, robots are the future of manufacturing, and the future is here now.

Robots And CNC Manufacturing

Yes, robots can do many things well, and they are constantly improving their skills. One part of the manufacturing process that they have proved particularly effective at is CNC machining. When you need precision parts made to exacting tolerances, over and over again, no human can match the tireless performance of a robot.

Of course, robots could do nothing without humans to program them and tell them what to do. Artificial intelligence may get to the point some day that they’ll be able to do it themselves, but we’re not there yet. That’s why we employ professional machinists with years of experience, who also understand the technology behind the robots they direct. That’s a tall order, and you could say our staff is among the elite in their profession.

Robotics manufacturing not only increases productivity and produces and produces an exacting product every time, it also significantly lowers costs. That’s why we can deliver superior OEM parts at the lowest cost, every time.

Meet Sawyer, The Newest Member Of The Team

Sawyer is a robot, and he has amazing capabilities. Even though he only takes up about four square feet of space, he can accomplish many tasks. Sawyer is a collaborative robot, with a visual interface that allows his fellow workers to communicate with him, and to anticipate his actions. He has seven degrees of freedom, extremely advanced in robot technology, and he has over a four-foot reach, can lift almost nine pounds, and can be controlled to the most exacting specifications required for high-tech CNC machining. Sawyer can work independently, and requires very little supervision. He is one of the most valuable members of our team, gets along great with his co-workers, and is our leading edge in providing you with the highest quality OEM parts.

To learn more about how Sawyer, robotics manufacturing, and high-technology CNC machining can help your business, contact Tag Team Manufacturing today.

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Lean Manufacturing at Tag Team

At Tag Team, we believe that “lean” as a concept is more than just a way to streamline and simplify the manufacturing process. It’s a way to shine a powerful light on the areas of manufacturing that add value in a way that lets you support them and strengthen them. It’s a methodology that lets you get the right products into the right places at the right time. Most importantly, it’s a way to guarantee the type of competitive advantage necessary to be able to constantly grow and evolve within the ever-changing demands of the market as a whole.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

At its core, lean manufacturing is a concept built on the idea that if you take steps to identify and eliminate waste and overburden within a system, you immediately identify the core pillars that are truly adding value to your organization. It’s a philosophy that was spearheaded by Toyota during the 1990s and is also directly responsible for that company transitioning from a small, niche company to the largest automaker on planet Earth.

Lean focuses on eliminating three core types of waste from within the manufacturing process:

  • Muda. As a term meaning “futility” in its original Japanese, these are all the steps within your process that may get you the results you want, but in the least efficient way possible.
  • Muri. This is the type of waste generated by overburden. These are decisions that may have seemed great when you made them but that, over time, prevent you and your team from working “smarter, not harder.”
  • Mura. This refers to the waste in your process created by uneven workloads.

By overhauling a manufacturing process with an eye towards these three simple ideas, you don’t just improve the quality of the work you’re doing – you improve costs, delivery times, stability and absolutely everything in between.

The Lean Manufacturing Approach

At Tag Team, lean is the very foundation on which our entire manufacturing process has been built. We use one of the best manufacturing software systems available in the world today – E2 – to track everything from machine and employee efficiencies to material and labor costs. We automate wherever possible, allowing us to not only use technology to do things we couldn’t have dreamed of even 10 years ago but to free up the valuable time of our employees so that they can focus on the things that matter the most.

At the end of the day, lean manufacturing doesn’t just allow us to support our own growth and profitability. It lets us support yours, too.

Tag Team has over 30 years of experience serving customers just like you by way of a highly trained, passionate staff with a commitment to quality that is second to none. If you’d like to find out more information about how lean manufacturing can benefit your organization, or if you’d like to sit down and speak to someone about your situation in a little more detail, please don’t delay – contact Tag Team today.