Example of utilizing QUICCA: VOL. 5
To the management and executives of food factories,
Reducing raw materials through automated feedback to the upstream process
Challenges in manual adjustment
In Examples of utilizing QUICCA: VOL. 2, "QUICCA can reduce raw materials," we described that changing the settings of production equipment (we used the example of a hamburger patty forming machine for the description) while viewing a tablet screen can reduce raw materials waste. In this article, we would like to introduce an example of automatizing feedback to and adjustment of production equipment to reasonably minimize the amount of raw materials waste.
We often hear that in factories producing a large volume of products in multiple production lines, the factors specified below make it hard for them to manually adjust the production volume or production speed of production equipment.
- When the viscosity or hardness of raw materials is variable, they need to be adjusted more than expected.
- It is burdensome for workers constantly holding a tablet to go around the factory.
If a full-time worker is assigned to raw material waste reduction, the annual labor cost will be 3 million to 5 million yen. If your company cannot expect a cost reduction greater than this amount, maybe you will conclude that you should not have done it.
Automated feedback to the upstream process
It would be better if a PC in which QUICCA is installed could control equipment such as a forming machine and a slicer in the upstream process; however, this is technically difficult. Therefore, an independent device which can control the forming machine and the slicer is required. A schematic view of the system is shown below. QUICCA constantly receives the data for measuring the end product from multiple inspection machines, calculating the mean value and the deviation. If an option is added to QUICCA, it can send feedback to correct the difference between the standard weight and the actual average weight—more concretely, instructions such as "increase the volume by 10%" and "reduce the speed by 5%,"—to the control part of the productive equipment. Responding to the instructions, the control part operates the forming machine to increase or decrease the number of products to be discharged. Although initial cost is required for producing the control part that can utilize LAN communication, it can be recovered within a relatively short period thanks to the reduction in the amount of raw materials waste.
Fig. 1: Automated feedback
If multiple production lines gather or diverge before they reach the final delivery inspection line, two preconditions are required to introduce an automatic control system that uses QUICCA into multiple forming machines and slicers.
- The weight distribution of products to be produced in each production line must be nearly a normal distribution.
- The dispersion and the mean value must not greatly differ among production lines.
These points need to be analyzed and confirmed, because it is normally difficult to grasp which production equipment produces the product conveyed to the downstream inspection line.
Fig. 2: Example in which the weight distribution of products produced in each production line is similar to each other
Overly accurate correction settings can lead to reduced production efficiency.
The product volume can be automatically adjusted, but if a severe correction is made to make the weight of each product very close to the standard value, many products with a weight below the lower limit standard will be produced. Since the checkweigher rejects such products, yield may decrease. For example, in a busy season, your priority may be producing the target number of products, rather than reducing raw materials waste. The production manager must take reasonable actions depending on the given situation. Accordingly, QUICCA’s "visualization" function will assist the production manager. The monitoring screen allows the production manager to identify the optimum weight correction (or thickness correction) range for the molding machine, slicer, etc. and the optimum timing at which to send feedback to them.
Fig. 3: List of QUICCA functions
As Examples of utilizing QUICCA: VOL. 2, "The use of QUICCA reduce raw materials", describes variation in product weight rarely occurs randomly, but instead is mainly caused by the drift of a sensor incorporated in production equipment or by a change in the hardness or viscosity of raw materials. Therefore, variation tends to occur only in the area below or above the standard. Some of you may have learned this tendency through experience, and in response, corrected the equipment for a certain number of products. However, in production lines that cannot be stopped, differences in the experience of shift workers inevitably comes to the surface. We recommend using QUICCA, a tool which allows each worker to reasonably find the correction range of production equipment and the timing of automated feedback. In addition, even if you work remotely and cannot go to the production site in person, remote control enables changing the correction range and the start/stop of feedback. Please utilize QUICCA effectively to reduce raw materials waste.
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