Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tape Timer

As I mentioned before, we built a special harness assembly board to teach new operators how to apply spiral tape to a harness. We wanted to be able to time them as well so we could see improvement etc.
They wanted a timer that would be activated when the operator picks up the tape, and deactivated when the operator puts it back.
So I used a make controller, and a sparkfun LCD screen to do the job. I built some firmware that would do the timing. I connected a light sensor so that when light was detected in the holder, the timer would start, and then stop when it went dark. See it in action below!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Live Floor

So recently I had an idea about monitoring production in our plant using Xbee modules to collect data from the assembly boards. For example, i wanted to be able to know if an operator was at their station at any given time, also how long it takes to build each harness, total downtime of the board, how many pieces built, etc.
So my changito and I designed and built some Xbee boards. We used the xbee board from makingthings as a jumping off point, and then drew up some plans for what you see here:
thing of beauty

Then we added the Xbee module

Here is the make controller with the receiver Xbee in place, I may look into another option for receiving the packets, possibly one of the USB xbee adapters from Sparkfun, but for now, this works.

Anywho. We then mounted it onto a prototype Assembly board that we built.

It has the 2 holders for the harness connectors. So the way it works is that when the operator is there, the movement is picked up and also as each piece is approved, a message is sent back to the receiver that talks to the PC and database.

I wrote some software that would juggle the information around a bit and keep track of things. I'll write some more about that next time.

Spoiler Alert! Barbie makes a special guest appearance...

Tape Timer

We're working on an assembly board for training operators on how to assemble harnesses. They wanted me to build a cheap timer that would output the time that a roll of tape spent away from its dock. In other words, time how long it took for the operator to use the tape. So i took some time and built this dock with an integrated sensor and indicator LED. I hooked er up to a make controller and set up the serial port to send out the time.

You can see the indicator LED goes on when the tape is removed

Right now I've got a serial cable running out from the controller that goes to the computer (which shows the time). Next week I'll be getting a little LCD screen that will show the time.
Here is the serial signal coming out of hyperterminal:

So, next i'll add this little gem here, when i get it, and we'll be rolling:

It was a pretty quick project, a little embedded light activated timer, but they wanted quick and cheap, and when we sent it of to get it quoted, the quote came back as $900 US dollars, but mine cost less than 300. Kind of a shame to use such a powerful board for such a dinky little project, it could do so much more, but maybe they'll ask for more next, who knows.