The name of the game in manufacturing is efficiency and accuracy. Without an efficient and accurate system, productivity drops, and manufacturing operators lose valuable resources, like time and money. But with the right metrics to guide the way, you can keep the maze of motion control systems, robotics, and human operators running smoothly. By addressing issues along the chain of production, you can cut down on faulty products and keep your system running in tip-top shape.
Measuring Accuracy With the “First Time Right” Metric
There are hundreds of metrics you can use to measure the health and efficiency of your manufacturing center. Every time you add another metric, you get even more targeted insights into your factory processes. This information is vital because it helps you discover bottlenecks and improve accuracy and efficiency. One core metric that provides a bird’s eye view of system accuracy is “First Time Right (FTR).”
FTR is a metric that stems from the Six Sigma management practice. It helps address the central goal of the Six Sigma methodology—increasing profitability by reducing defects. Specifically, FTR measures the percent of total products produced perfectly (that is, without any errors or faults.) You calculate FTR by dividing the number of “perfect” products by the total number of products and multiplying that by 100.
By measuring First Time Right across every stage of your supply chain, you can identify where defaults in your system occur. And by knowing where the problems are occurring, you can investigate why these errors happen and hopefully solve them for good.
Factors That Decrease Your FTR Metric
Many factors contribute to a low FTR metric. Getting to the source of the problem requires a combination of data and in-person insights. In most cases, problems can be attributed to human errors, process errors, material errors, or machinery errors.
As any seasoned facility manager will know, human error is a common factor that decreases your FTR metric. In some cases, mistakes can be attributed to a new employee who is still getting a handle on their responsibilities. Other times, mistakes occur because of poor process explanations or training.
In either case, proper training and support for employees can help improve their productivity. However, it is crucial to recognize that 100% FTR is unlikely if your facility employs people throughout the process (after all, to err is human.)
Process errors are another culprit that might contribute to a low FTR percent. In many ways, innovation is a double-edged sword. You need innovation to keep your facility at the cutting edge. However, it also comes at the cost of accuracy, efficiency, and production speed. You can’t implement new processes without a bit of troubleshooting, which means you will see a dip in FTR percent when you first implement a new process.
Another factor that significantly impacts your FTR is the quality of your raw materials. The simple fact is that poor material quality will inevitably lead to poor quality products. By working with your suppliers to get the best quality, you can cut down on issues down the supply chain.
Finally, mechanical issues are usually the most impactful problems that affect your FTR. For example, out-of-date equipment or mechanical failures can cause products to be off-spec or incorrectly manufactured. Fortunately, these issues are usually easy to solve. And while a perfect FTR is statistically improbable, continuous improvements in technology allow you to shave precious percentages off your FTR by updating to newer, more efficient technology.
How Better Motion Control Systems Can Improve Your FTR
Since the effects of both human, material, and process errors are nearly impossible to stomp out completely, mechanical errors are the low-hanging fruit. And fortunately, there’s one mechanical component that is particularly ripe for improvements: motion control systems.
Motion control systems are utilized at almost every stage of your facility. They’re in the assembly lines that move products through your facility. They’re in the robotic components that build your products, and they’re in the robotics and machinery moving your products in and around warehouses. These systems play a pivotal role in your First Right Time metric, as they influence the flow and movement inside your facility.
So if you want to cut down on faulty products, a great place to start is by looking at your motion control system.
The Basic Components of a Motion Control System
Every motion control system contains the same core components: a controller, motors, motor drives, and feedback sensors. These components ensure assembly line belts, robotic arms, and automated warehouse lines move precisely how they should.
The controller acts as the brains of the operation, sending signal commands to the motor drives. The motor drives (also called amplifiers) then amplify the signals and send them to the motors to create torque and move the machinery. Finally, the feedback sensors keep track of motion changes to ensure the machine achieves the desired speed, movement, and direction needed to complete the process.
If you’re noticing a lower than average FTR, a quick diagnostic can sometimes indicate a problem with any number of components in your motion control system. But one prevalent issue is that of a faulty feedback sensor.
Improving Your FTR With Custom Encoder Components
A poorly performing feedback sensor is particularly problematic. Your motion control system is reliant on these sensors to ensure proper motion. So when these components aren’t up to par, it can lead to significant product defaults and even potentially dangerous situations if the robotic machinery and assembly lines aren’t lining up correctly.
To cut down on faulty products and avoid hazardous conditions, you need to invest in high-quality feedback sensors. These sensors come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. But the best feedback system is one that’s custom-made to your specifications.
Even if you’re not experiencing issues with your encoder, upgrading to a custom encoder disc can help you achieve greater accuracy and, in some cases, a longer shelf life for your encoder. That means you’ll see a decrease in FTR and spend less time replacing faulty discs.
Choose a Custom Encoder Disc from Photo Solutions
At Photo Solutions, we work with manufacturers to keep their facilities running accurately and smoothly with custom encoder discs and scales. We craft custom solutions from various durable materials to help you achieve a long-lasting solution that holds up to environmental conditions. With a custom solution, you can achieve higher accuracy with your encoders and cut down on the number of faulty products you produce.
Learn more about our custom encoder discs and scales today.