TRUMPF has introduced another key component of Industry 4.0 connected manufacturing with its new Track & Trace, which allows customers to determine the position of parts within a a few inches, enabling them to reduce throughput times on the shop floor and increase productivity.
The solution accurately locates sheet metal parts in real time and also tracks and documents the routes they take. That effectively eliminates the costly task of searching for parts on the shop floor, and it makes it easier to pinpoint express jobs in the production facility and prioritize their fabrication as required. The positioning system works not only for parts, but also for tools.
Conventional positioning systems cannot be used in metal-rich environments such as between machines or in sheet metal storage areas because the signals emitted by the transmitters get corrupted or even completely lost. The Track & Trace solution sidesteps this problem by utilizing a robust frequency and by placing tracking devices referred to as ‘satellites’ on the ceiling. These miniature satellites communicate with devices known as markers, which can simply be placed on, or attached to, stacks of parts or load carriers, much like a paper batch of job documents. That enables production workers to track down parts to within just a few inches.
TRUMPF has already successfully deployed Track & Trace at test customer sites as well as in its own production facilities. The solution is quick to install, simple to use, and easy to integrate in existing manufacturing processes.
Track & Trace works using a computer chip installed inside each marker. This chip transmits data to an industrial computer via the satellites, allowing users to access information on the part and its location on the computer screen. They can also transmit data back to control the marker, for example displaying the job number or any other information required for the production process on a small ink display.
All the data can also be transferred to smartphones and tablets. Select a job on the screen, and the corresponding marker will respond by emitting a series of light signals, making it quick and easy to identify. This makes Track & Trace one of the first steps in the paperless manufacturing systems of the future.