An electronics manufacturer produces thousands of different part numbers of high value electronic products intermixed on the same assembly line. The large number of different products built on the line, coupled with the fact that many of the parts that distinguish these products are so similar, made it difficult for assemblers to verify that they were assembling the products correctly.
The difficulty in identifying parts, combined with the fast pace of the assembly line, resulted in a large number of assemblies that required rework or had to be scrapped. The electronics manufacturer previously experienced several hundred thousand dollars a year in losses when incorrect parts were added to, and/or the wrong operations were performed, on assemblies. An additional issue was the inability to easily track the WIP inventory which resulted in large amounts of money tied up in raw materials in process.
The manufacturer asked Claire Lasers and several other laser identification system suppliers to provide their ideas on how its problems could be addressed. The application was particularly challenging because the space to apply identification was limited on many assemblies and the high value of the assemblies demanded 100% accuracy. Another concern was that the assemblies were not positioned and fixtured on the assembly line with the level of accuracy normally required for laser inspection and image-based ID reading.
Denis J. Gendron, President of Claire Lasers, worked with the manufacturer to define the requirements of the application. He developed an application of his company’s ClearMark laser marking system that can generate a 2D Data Matrix code in the required space. Gendron and his team designed a motorized platform that moves the reader into position based on the location of the assembly or part prior to reading.
“I picked the Cognex DataMan fixed-mount barcode ID reader to address the 2D Data Matrix code reading challenge because, in my experience, its software consistently delivers reliable readings even when the appearance of the code has been degraded,” Gendron said. “The DataMan user interface is exceptionally easy to use. The small size of the DataMan readers makes them ideal for cramped assembly system applications. The Cognex sales team provided us with excellent information during the selection process and their service and support has been excellent.”
“The laser marking and [image-based ID reader] has helped the electronics manufacturer substantially improve the performance of its operations,” Gendron concluded. “The identification of the part at each critical station of the assembly system provides the ability to accurately track the assembly process, avoid operator error and has dramatically reduced scrap and rework rates on the line. Marking the incoming inventory with the unique identifier also enables real-time inventory control. Manufacturers are quite pleased with the results of this application, and many are looking for other opportunities to apply laser marking and [image-based ID reading] to generate more quality and productivity improvements.”