Emerging Technologies

Innovative tools of the trade

By Daren Maynard

Clean workflows

Manufacturing is the birthplace of industrial engineering – where the discipline started its quest for continuous improvement. Standardized workflows are created from the drive to review processes regularly. In the automated process/manufacturing industries, product cleanliness is an important aspect of the quality control and regulatory framework. It can affect the next stage of the production process. This month’s article covers FFD’s Sequence Enterprise iPad App for Kaizen events and MechWash’s Midi/Maxi line of industrial-grade washing systems.

FFD created the Sequence Enterprise software for use in military, aerospace and other documentation-heavy manufacturing industries. The software electronically transmits labor steps to the production line. On the shop floor, the factory workers execute the instructions.

During production, workers often see recommendations for improvements. These improvements can be shared during kaizen team meetings. The iPad app integrates into Sequence Enterprise software to capture those worker suggestions. It allows the factory worker to make a simple note and take a photo on their iPad, which is connected to the enterprise software. The suggestion is submitted to the line/process manager for review. If management agrees with the suggestion, the recommendation is implemented and added to the system (e.g., inclusion/removal of an additional tool/step).

This provides documentary evidence for all of the changes made to the workflow. The approved changes will be released to the production line as the latest approved workflow instructions.

Part of the manufacturing workflow includes cleaning and sanitizing machined parts that get contaminated by lubricants and debris from the machining/pressing processes. Before moving to the next step, the company can use the U.K.-based MechWash’s Midi/Maxi customizable industrial-grade washing and cleaning system. The washer can be configured to work with fully automated, semi-automated or manual material transfer systems.

The washer's adjustable dimension between the Midi and the Maxi models can be automated to suit the customer’s needs. Although water-based, the system can clean and degrease various machined parts, including those containing ferrous material.

The washer integrates ultrasonic, flood, spray and dedicated jet washing, purging, and hot air and vacuum drying. This creates a flexible and effective cleaning system that can remove oils, fillings and other contaminants. The pieces are stored in a basket and undergo a rigorous cleaning process that targets specific challenges in cleaning: blind holes, solution traps, embedded contaminants, moisture traps, re-contamination and debris build-up.

This washer family has a small physical and emissions footprint. The vapors from the cleaning process are captured or liquefied and reused.

Daren Maynard is the portfolio management lead for Novus Tech Limited and F1RST Media Limited in Trinidad and Tobago. He has an M.S. in program and project management and a B.S. in industrial engineering. He is a member of IIE's Young Professionals group.