STEEL PROJECT (IOT)
The Steel project is an automated system that handles multiple different machines interconnection with specially made hardware devices that can always add new machines into the system if requested, making it fully scalable.
By tracking employee work shifts, machine processing efficiency and device activity it can output various reports used for future planning and making necessary adjustments for further production improvements.
From import to export, the warehouse state is always up to date by labeling goods with UHF RFID tags, eliminating paper-based processes and finding the right stored material without wasting time.
With antennas designated to each machine, product managers will always know the type of material the machines are processing. By fully automating the production system its efficiency has increased exponentially and drastically reduced the cost of management and maintenance, making the client fully satisfied.
The main automation parts in this project include:
- Interconnecting hardware-machine
- Warehouse stored goods labeling
- Processing material tracking
- Steel software
- Robotic arm
The hardware device is interconnected with the key components of this project's automation system, including the application, machinery, and printers. It transmits programs to the machinery, which then executes the production managers requested tasks as specified in the application. Upon task completion or in the event of an error, the machinery communicates its status back to the application through the same interface. This device is versatile and can work with machines from various manufacturers and types.
In the event of a successful work order processing, an individual printer associated with each machine generates a card containing relevant information, ensuring accurate labeling of processed goods.
The entire operation is overseen by a worker who logs into the machine using a RFID card. This arrangement enables the hardware to relay critical information such as work hours, efficiency metrics, and the supervisor responsible for overseeing a work order to the application.
Picture 1. Falcon’s hardware
Warehouse stored goods state and labeling
The warehouse maintains real-time accuracy through the utilization of NFC scannable UHF RFID tags for goods tracking. This process is initiated through a mobile application that integrates order forms from SAP clients. During the goods delivery receiving phase, employees are provided with a comprehensive list detailing the items stated for storage. Once all items are manually entered into the mobile application, they are labeled with tags by NFC scanning them with the previously entered data.
Upon completion of the scanning procedure, the mobile application promptly communicates the received goods' quantity to SAP. These tags can later be scanned, allowing warehouse personnel to access critical information such as the type of product, weight, diameter, and other customizable and essential data. Furthermore, tags can be rescanned to update remaining inventory levels, and when a tag is no longer needed, it can be detached and de-tagged for reuse on another product. The wealth of data stored within these tags is continually collected and transmitted to both the mobile and main applications, ensuring that the shift manager remains fully informed about the current state of the warehouse.
Picture 2. UHF RFID tags
Processing material tracking
Antennas possess the capability to track and scan UHF RFID tags affixed to goods currently in the middle of being processed. This functionality enables the application to ensure the accuracy of client orders, guaranteeing the inclusion of the correct material types. Moreover, should an incorrect material be accidentally presented for processing, the system will prevent the machine from initiating the operation and will immediately notify the product manager. The application also provides visibility into the ongoing processing of each type of material on all machines, including a comprehensive history of previously processed items on each of them. Through the integration of antennas within the system, human error and the need for supervision is significantly reduced, being one step closer to fully automating it.
Read more about UHF RFID TAGS
Picture 3. 3D plan of placing antennas
Steel software (MES)
The Steel software was initially developed for a client specializing in iron shaping. This software, whose name derives from that field, now offers a wide range of functionalities that go beyond its original purpose.
The software features turn it to a fully adaptable and scalable MES (Manufacturing Execution System) and much more.
This software provides comprehensive tracking capabilities throughout the entire manufacturing process. It efficiently monitors every step in production, including the creation of orders and their associated data. Users can access a list of all created orders for review and have the option to initiate their processing. Once verified, these orders transition into work orders, which are assigned to specific machines for processing by production managers. Once the work orders are completed, they are dispatched.
Using the MES software, each production step is recorded and linked to the work order, making it easier to control and monitor the manufacturing process. It also quickly identifies any issues or delays and tracks resources for each work order, which improves manufacturing efficiency and product quality.
Picture 4. Work order flow
The initial mission was to make the process of shaping and preparing goods for distribution easier, more efficient, and remarkably user-friendly. Steel software reduces human error possibility and significantly speeds up the system itself.
This software comprises several key components:
- Armature (order and position creation) & hardware - machine communication
- Real-time production tracking
- Warehouse tracking
- SAP-ERP-MES integration process
- Smart workforce & machine management
- Work order management machine learning
- AutoCAD import module
Customizable capabilities of Steel software make it useful for all types of manufacturing sectors and operations in diverse industries.
Read more about STEEL SOFTWARE
The robotic arm operates in collecting processed work order items, maintaining a continuous and efficient workflow. This arm is equipped with a detachable receiving unit, designed with versatility in mind. It comes with many unit shapes to accommodate items of varying shapes and complexities, ensuring compatibility with the diverse output from the processing machines. Additionally, it features an integrated weight sensor, enabling it to maximize item collection before deposit. Once a predetermined quantity of items is collected, it carefully deposits them onto their designated location or stand.
The application analyzes the attributes of each work order, combined with the currently attached receiving unit, to calculate precise coordinates for item collection and placement. The robotic arm is integrated with a newly upgraded hardware device, which acts as the link between the application and the operational components.
This hardware device efficiently handles the data relay from the application, including critical information such as item weight and the arm's load capacity. It then assumes control over the robotic arm and the processing machine, ensuring successful processing and collection of every item. The hardware informs the app with proper work order data when the processing phase is completed or sends a notification when an error occurs.
This integration of the robotic arm not only minimizes the need for human intervention but also increases safety measures. A protective enclosure surrounds both the robotic arm and the machine. When this enclosure is opened, it automatically halts all processes to ensure human safety. Human error is effectively eliminated, and the risk of injuries caused from careless contact with the machines is completely removed. The robot arm stands as a secure solution, delivering efficient, error-free processing while safeguarding the well-being of personnel working alongside it.
The Steel project is an automated system that was made to enable these core features:
- Effective planning
- Maximum reliability
- Real time tracking and reporting
- Increased productivity
- Expense reduction
- Inventory control
- Process optimization
- Staff and machine productivity tracking
- Shipping logistics
- Quality Assurance
In a world of rapid technological evolution, automation is becoming key to success in manufacturing. It brings efficiency, precision and adaptability that are essential for competitiveness in the market. All this advantage of automation can be applied regardless of the type of industry, type of product or even machine manufacturer.
The solutions are adaptable and scalable, creating opportunities for production optimization and real-time monitoring, no matter where and how they work. Whether they are in iron manufacturing, electronics, food or any other industry, automation is the way forward.