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“We are in the early innings of a technology-driven, decade-long investment cycle centered on data and digitalization that allows businesses to gain insights, improve business outcomes, and drive productivity…the transition to the ‘Data Era’ is accelerating during COVID-19.” (See The Data Decade at MorganStanley.com)

Despite the importance of data to Industry 4.0, most companies are still struggling with data logging in manufacturing and quality control. A recent survey of 260 manufacturers, including some of the world’s largest, revealed that 75%  are still collecting data manually. Of these, an astounding 47% still rely on pencil and paper. (See Manual Data Collection Delays Transformation for Manufacturers” at InfinityQS.com)

Cobots, Industry 4.0, and the Data Era in the QC Department

Assembly Magazine describes key elements of Industry 4.0 that apply to robotics, including connectivity and data. (See Robotics in the Age of Industry 4.0 at AssemblyMag.com)

Collaborative robots and Q-Span Workstations bring the essential connectivity and data digitization tools to the task of contact measurements for quality control.

Embedded in each Q-Span Workstation is electronic logging of part measurements to your Quality Management System (QMS). This capability reduces errors, ensures data integrity and create more timely and actionable information for process monitoring and improvement.

Automate Data Logging to the QMS of Your Choice

Your QMS may be an Excel spreadsheet on a PC or an enterprise-wide networked program on many devices. For all cases, the digital measurements of each gripper/caliper are transferred from the robot controller to your company’s QMS using industry-standard ethernet with TCP protocols.

A standard Q-Span Workstation includes a data logging solution for a Windows PC. An ethernet cable and special software are provided for both the robot and the PC. Measured dimension, date, time and units are transferred to the PC using a comma separated value (CSV) format. The data can be displayed in the PC using the demonstration program provided or any other program that can read CSV files, such as Excel or Minitab.

Similar solutions are available for other QMS programs such as InfinityQS. Generally these programs have tools that can be configured to receive data from a wide variety of sources. If necessary, New Scale will work with your IT team to create a data transfer solution.

What’s Next? Data-Driven Business Decisions

Logging the data automatically is just the (necessary, and critical) first step.

After the QMS system receives each data set from the Q-Span Workstation, the data can be logged and protected to comply with Part 11 data integrity requirements. Having data automatically recorded makes it easier to create reports and ensure traceability.

The collected data can be used to identify trends and drive business decisions, as well. This is the future of Industry 4.0.

For example:

  • Automating inbound inspection using a Q-Span Workstation for contact measurement of critical features on precision parts allows manufacturers to easily double-check a supplier’s data. Using different analyses to pick up on obscure data trends and abnormalities would indicate if the supplier is cheating or skewing their data to send “passing” parts.
  • Detecting trends in production part measurement data can deliver early warning of process drift due to tool wear or other factors.

All this and more starts with the relatively simple task of automating small-part measurement.

The promise of Industry 4.0 depends on automation of data collection. Collaborative robots and the Q-Span System bring these capabilities to QC teams at low-volume, high-mix manufacturers.

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