When you think about next-gen factories utilizing Industry 4.0 tools, advanced automation, big data, cobots, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality goggles probably come to mind.
But it all starts with something much simpler: managing the flow of materials.
So says Panasonic, which claims its latest tool, Logiscend 2.0 with InSights software, can significantly enhance the process—boosting productivity and quality while lowering costs—by adding visualization and analytics capabilities to its existing platform.
How It Works
The paperless system, which uses electronic tags and tablets, allows users to track containers, parts and other assets throughout the manufacturing process—including “picking” parts from the warehouse, line replenishment and providing detailed work instructions.
As a result, manufacturers can quickly analyze trends over time and across areas to identify bottlenecks and improve production efficiency, says George Daddis, Panasonic’s vice-president in charge of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
He estimates that Logiscend can boost operational efficiency by as much as 30% for some processes.
Seeing is Believing
Assembly instructions can be sent directly to electronic devices where they’re needed on the factory floor on a just-in-sequence basis.
In some cases, Daddis says, this can replace hundreds of printed pages for complex operations.
The 2.0 system also offers a larger viewing tag (7 inches compared with current 3- or 4-inch units) to allow operators to more quickly access detailed instructions, according to the supplier.
With the new system, Daddis says, manufacturers can track various performance metrics and analyze material flow data over time and between areas, shifts and plants.
This includes monitoring exactly where parts and containers are throughout the assembly process, how much time is spent at each workstation and prioritizing or holding advancement as needed. An audit log charts movements for easy traceability and compliance tracking.
The system also can alert operators if a container is in the wrong location or quickly identify and address problems. For example, Daddis says, if a shipment of wire harnesses was incorrectly delivered hours or days before, Panasonic’s software can be used to quickly retrieve and/or reprogram all the containers to prevent parts from being used and track those that already have been installed.
“Imagine trying to do that with a paper-based system,” Daddis says. “It would be virtually impossible.”
Panasonic says applications for the Logiscend software—the second update since the supplier acquired the technology from Omni-ID in early 2019—will be launched in the first quarter of 2021.
Several carmakers and Tier 1 suppliers use the current system to varying degrees throughout their plants.
The goal, Daddis says, is to team Logiscend with Panasonic hardware to provide customers with a turnkey solution.
Unlike existing MES (manufacturing execution system) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) tools, which typically are implemented all at once throughout a plant, Logiscend can be a done on a piecemeal basis($50,000 to $200,000 for a picking center system) as needed to prove out the technology and make it more cost effective. The company claims the typical payback period is less than a year.