Body Weld Data Capture and Analysis Drives Improvements
This large, global automotive OEM worked with GE Digital to help digitize the weld inspection process within the body shop. The inspection process is important to ensure that defects do not make it further down the process.
Challenges in Body Weld
The current weld inspection process was a labor intensive process. Vehicles came into the Inspection station and inspectors had 55 seconds to review a set of welds. Inspectors had trouble determining if each weld was good or bad. They did this for 400-500 vehicles per shift depending on the model.
Since there were ~1500 welds to verify, this automotive OEM had a sampling process that allowed them to cycle through all welds every 15 vehicles. The process was paper based which meant the inspector captured any defects on a clipboard that after the shift would be manually entered into an Excel sheet for analysis. Additionally, with only 55 seconds in total, the operator had to also fix any welds while the vehicle was in station or mark the vehicle for repair. With this situation, there were a lot of opportunities for error.
Automotive Body Weld Data Capture and Analysis Solution
To address these challenges, GE Digital’s Professional Services team developed an application based on CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA and Tracker software to digitize this process. In this application, the manufacturer can read data directly from the robot welders to determine which welds are bad. The software presents the weld visually on a screen for the operators to see quickly and easily which welds need focus. Operators can then review the few bad welds and mark them as fixed in the application.
No more clipboard to fill out and a big reduction in number of welds to validate, saving time and reducing errors.
In addition the GE Digital solution is collecting diagnostic data from the robots that can be used by engineering teams for further analysis of False Negatives/Positives collected.
The GE Digital solution:
- Collects weld status (OK/No good) from the robot
- Collects weld diagnostic data for each weld
- Uses this data as background info for false negative/positive (Engineers that support process)
- Provides two screens at each weld quality station (Left/Right), and these present welds to be inspected at the station
- Helps operators focus on problem areas faster – within their tight time
- Offers the operator three simple choices when a weld is highlighted: REPAIRED, GOOD, NO GOOD.
- Provides Defect Quarantine component (Bad Robot Programs)
Weld Quality ANDON Display
Additionally the application has an ANDON display that can show weld defects in real time by different dimensions such as by Robot, Line or vehicle. With the paper-based process, information such as this took days to accumulate. This view can help management see which robots may need maintenance and calibration. This helps improve first time quality of the welds in a real-time process.
The manufacturer can use easy-to-read Pareto Charts that can draw attention to the most critical data, which can help ensure that the right problems are being focused on. For instance looking at Defects by Robot shows an operator which robots will need attention soon based on the number of defects they have created. his Pareto is updated in real time, so as time goes on, the focus will change.
As a result of using this CIMPLICITY and Tracker application and working with the GE Digital Professional Services team, this major automotive OEM has realized:
- Reduction in time and effort for inspection activities – by pinpointing where to focus and removing paperwork
- Improved the quality by focusing on the welds that need attention
- Reduction of errors by removing paper from the equation and more up-to-date information at their fingertips for real-time decision making
- Improved overall inspector efficiency as they have better quality in less time expended
Additionally by taking the first step of collecting the data, the company can look at further projects around SPC and analytics to further improve quality in the future. This could include being able to predictively see degradation of robot weld quality and reduce the number of weld defects.
With success of this project, the automotive OEM is working with GE Digital and the Professional Services team to roll out the CIMPLICITY / Tracker solution at more plants around the world.
Paul Adams, Principal Customer Success Manager, GE Digital