A modern manufacturing line has a multiplicity of sensors embedded in its production machines and peripheral equipment, all feeding back positional data, measurements and other information on the process. Keeping track of the wealth of information generated can be a problem; an automated quality management system is needed.
So two German firms, measuring technology specialist, HEIDENHAIN and statistical software company, Q-DAS, whose main focus is on quality management applications, have teamed up to offer an integrated system for automatically collecting, analysing and archiving data from up to 250 measurement channels.
In the UK and Ireland, support is provided jointly by HEIDENHAIN (GB) Ltd, Burgess Hill and Q-DAS distributor, Measurement Solutions Ltd, Peterborough. The HEIDENHAIN multi-channel multiplexer, MSE 1000, is at the heart of the system. It comprises a choice of power supply module, a communications module and a variety of interface modules for receiving many different types of signal.
They include sinusoidal 1 Vpp, EnDat 2.2 signals from incremental and absolute linear and rotary encoders, TTL (transistor-transistor logic), RS-485, inductive signals from LVDTs (linear variable differential transducers) and HBTs (half bridge transducers), and analogue signals. For closed loop in-process gauging, I/O (input / output) modules can be provided for digital signals as well as a compressed air switching module for directly controlling pneumatically activated length gauges. Displacement sensors from a number of manufacturers are supported.
All modules are mounted to a DIN rail in an electrical cabinet to achieve an organised and compact measuring station, data transmission being via standard Ethernet. MSEsetup software is provided to allow the user to configure all of the connected channels. It has diagnostics for connected sensors and modules and allows automatic transfer to a PC via Excel for data collection. If an application calls for further integration, the DLL files are made available for custom programming.
Evaluating measurements and transforming them into useable results is where the Q-DAS software comes in. The company's current procella version 11 integrates with MSE 1000, for which driver support has been implemented. The full range of procella software functions have been made available, simplifying handling of the measuring station and enabling all channels to be configured.
Collected measurement and test data are saved into files or stored in a central database. The information is then instantly available for quantitative and qualitative evaluation. Direct visualisation of the recorded values combined with the display of historical data enables early recognition of trends. It allows the operator to identify issues quickly as they arise and implement corrective actions to the process, minimising loss of production.
Individually configured alarms based on tolerances, limits and trends enable the user to control data statistically, even as it is being collected. If a violation occurs, the operator is immediately notified. Events, causes and corrective actions are documented so that the user can track deviations during subsequent analysis.
Test plans that have been created in the enterprise resource planning software, SAP, can be transferred into procella for data recording. Once the test is completed, the data is transferred back into SAP, combining the advantages of real time visualisation and data recording through procella with the benefits of the widely used ERP system, which is also German.
To learn more about this automated quality management system, please visit www.heidenhain.co.uk.