If Industry 4.0 has taught the manufacturing sector anything, it is that improvement and innovation are a way of life. At VKS, we wholeheartedly believe this to be true, and our work instruction platform is a testament to the never-ending goal of continually striving for the best processes and technology. Within any manufacturing job or task, there is always room for innovation!
Under our ever-striving nature to improve our processes and technology, we are proud to announce our new update: VKS 6.4.
We’ll go over the 2 key updates of 6.4, discuss what previous innovations have led us to these improvements, and show you how these updates can be used in real life.
The Tool Lock update is an improvement of our ToolConnect IoT feature that allows users to connect smart tools to their work instructions and achieve the following 4 tasks:
Push Pset values to your tools: ToolConnect IoT pushes the correct parameters to the tools at every assembly step. In the case of torque application, if two bolts need different amounts of torque, the tool will automatically apply the right amount of force to each one based on the specification within the guidebook.
Automatically advance the guidebook: As soon as an operator tightens a bolt, VKS automatically advances to the next step or bolt in the sequence. This capability enables operators to stay in sync with their processes and interact solely through their smart tool.
Monitor actions in real-time: As the data is recorded, VKS verifies the correct torque values. If an operator fastens a bolt incorrectly, VKS notifies the user and prevents them from moving on to the next step or bolt in the sequence.
Collect data: Every time an operator fastens a bolt, the smart tool records that value and sends it to VKS where it is stored for quality assurance. This data collection enables organizations to share valuable information with their customers, providing peace of mind for everyone.
What We Did In The Previous Update
Under the last update (VKS 6.3), we improved these functions with Torque Tool Validation (TTV) which allowed organizations to add minimum and maximum values to the torque assembly step.
In the past, guidebook authors would program different Psets with varying levels of torque. This meant Pset 5 on the smart tool could be set to 15 nm of force while Pset 8 could be set to 24 nm of force. The guidebook author would then specify which Pset to use within the assembly instructions. Despite this incredible capability, someone could change Pset 5 to 12 nm without the operator ever knowing. In this case, the tool would apply the wrong amount of force and the operator would be unaware.
Torque Tool Validation enabled organizations to increase the error-proofing capabilities of this process. Guidebook authors can now program a minimum and maximum value of torque within the assembly step. Operators use the programmed Pset value that has been specified in the guidebook while VKS validates that the proper force was applied and within the proper range, which gives operators and organizations an extra layer of quality control and security.
While Torque Tool Validation (TTV) mitigated the chances of human error, VKS 6.4’s added Tool Lock feature removes the potential for human error entirely.
Tool Lock prevents workers from using the smart tool on steps that do not require it, effectively allowing users, VKS, and their tools to complete the 6 following actions with accuracy, quality, and precision.
- VKS unlocks the tool when the operator is on a step with a ToolConnect (TC) annotation.
- VKS tells the tool what setting to use.
- The operator uses the tool and the tool applies the correct amount of torque.
- VKS validates that the applied torque was within specification limits through Torque Tool Validation (TTV).
- VKS captures the assembly data for quality assurance and control.
- VKS then locks the tool until it is needed again.
And this whole process occurs in a matter of seconds, making it impossible for users to mistakenly apply torque when it is not needed.
VKS work instructions unlock the tool on a step with a ToolConnect (TC) annotation, tell it what setting to use, capture the assembly data, then lock the tool again once the task is completed. This feature guarantees process compliance and further bridges the gap between people and technology, effectively advancing the goals of Industry 4.0 and 5.0.
For example, let’s imagine you are building industrial outboard motors for recreational use. As much as we’d like all bolts to be 10mm which requires the same amount of torque and torque angle, this is not the case. Some Class 8.8 bolts can withstand 55 nm (newton-meters) of force while Class 10.9 can withstand 75 nm of force. Each of these bolt classes are used in specific areas of the assembly. When we add in the other assembly steps that need to occur in between tightening bolts, keeping track of the appropriate torque values can get a bit confusing for operators.
To error proof this process, VKS uses 3 key features:
- Details step-by-step procedures using visual instructions
- Autonomously pushes the torque parameters and validates the process
- Locks the tool when not needed (new)
Let’s go back to our example scenario. The operator finishes tightening a bolt with the smart tool and is ready to tighten the next one. However, the assembly process requires that the operator installs a bracket before tightening the next set of bolts. It is a crucial step that cannot be overlooked.
Failing to realize he’s missing a step, the operator tries to tighten the next bolt but the tool is locked out. The operator looks at their instructions, sees that they are not on a step with a TC annotation, and performs the required step before using the smart tool again.
Once the bracket is placed under the sheet, the operator moves to the next step and the tool is unlocked. The operator and VKS can begin tightening and validating the torque application process.
Update #2: Production Alerts with Added Insight
Though less flashy than the Tool Lock feature, VKS Production Alerts have also received an interesting update.
Production Alerts are pop-up messages that are programmed to appear at a specific point/step in a guidebook. They can be added by authors and supervisors when additional information is useful and when specific information needs to be confirmed before the user moves on.
What makes this an effective communication tool is that the operator must acknowledge the alert and close it before they can proceed when in the first cycle of instructions. On the second cycle, the alert will appear and then close itself after 3 seconds, providing a constant reminder while not being cumbersome or time-consuming for the operator. This constant reminder of essential quality steps and information helps operators assimilate and correctly act on new details.
In-guidebook messaging like Production Alerts enables organizations to notify their shop floor workers with 2 types of information:
Permanent Information: This alert will always display on this particular step. For example, VKS reminds the user to wear the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when dealing with particular substances or performing certain actions.
Circumstantial Information: Alerts can be set up temporarily to communicate circumstantial information like temporary safety reminders, inventory changes, process changes, etc.
Pro Tip: Production Alerts can be added to a guidebook as it is created and after the guidebook has been published. This ability makes VKS an interactive and versatile tool for supervisors, authors, and operators to communicate valuable information at key points in any process.
In the past, alerts could be created and removed but there was little to track this process.
Now with VKS 6.4, organizations can gain greater insight into the use of this feature and see specifically when Production Alerts were issued, when they were deleted, and who performed these two functions.
A Production Alert Example
This new capability adds another layer of control to the Production Alerts feature.
Imagine you are manufacturing high-end tablets for the commercial market. When assembling screens and other components, operators need to wear special dust and smudge-free gloves. However, there is a shortage of gloves in some of the workstations.
To combat this issue, a Production Alert is set up to notify users that if they do not have gloves, they can go and ask Cheryl for extra. She's a bit of a hoarder, which has come in handy a few times.
Once the shortage is over, the Production Alert can be removed.
Supervisors and guidebook authors can then look back at this information and see when the alert was created and when it was removed, effectively tracking how many times similar alerts needed to be issued. At the same time, this tracking feature can determine if an alert was created or deleted prematurely and who is responsible.
This may seem like a small update but it is another step to enabling organizations to gain the maximum level of insight and optimization within their processes and operations.
Pro Tip: Anyone can create a production alert but only supervisors can remove them, which helps to make sure that important alerts are not removed too soon.
Keep the Updates Coming!
In the age of Industry 4.0 (with Industry 5.0 close on its tales), innovation is at the forefront of our minds when it comes to our customers and our technology.
For that reason, we strive to continuously improve, grow, and innovate with every passing day so that you have the best the industry has to offer.
Read Next: Curious to learn more about VKS? Reach out to us and book a demo today to see how you can continuously improve your operations with smart manufacturing technology.