Family affair: Assembly Control Node – the control center of the Assembly Control Node production
Discover how process control techniques optimize the production of the industrial PC AC Node
What at first sounds like a play on words is anything but gimmickry: in the production of the Assembly Control Node, the latest generation of Atlas Copco industrial PCs, its "siblings" ensure that production is made more efficient, product quality is increased and the traceability of all data becomes feasible.
The industrial PC for process visualization, known as the "AC Node" for short, does not achieve this alone: the SQS process control software with operator guidance, MicroTorque Focus controller and hand-held screwdrivers ofl MicroTorque series screwdrivers also play their part in delivering optimum product quality, process results and documentation. Take a look behind the scenes of the AC Node production in our Swabian product company and discover Atlas Copco's comprehensive process control solutions: literally a family affair.
It has been launched in the market since October 2019: Assembly Control Node, the latest generation of Atlas Copco’s industrial PC. This industrial PC is developed and manufactured as the central control point of each assembly line at Atlas Copco's Southern German product company Synatec GmbH. In Echterdingen near Stuttgart, innovative software and hardware solutions for industrial assembly have been developed and produced for decades.
In the summer of 2019, production of this extremely robust, yet user-friendly and stylish industrial computer started, which is intended to advance automation and process control. Four models of the AC Node with different power levels are available, reducing downtime in industrial assembly and increasing productivity through process visualization. Atlas Copco's manufacturing operations rely on additional in-house process control solutions to make assembly more effective, simplify and document processes, in line with Industry 4.0 strategies. This reduces production costs and ensures optimum, zero-defect product quality.
So what could be more obvious than to install some of the first series-produced devices of the Assembly Control Node at the assembly stations in the product company after testing and approval.
Alexander Staff, Product Manager Hardware, as well as Ingo Henzler, Project Manager for the installation of the assembly stations, were not only pleased with the trend-setting connectivity of the AC Node, but also with the extreme flexibility and the low dead weight, which allows installation by a single person.
After the installation of the process control software ""Scalable Quality Solution"" (SQS software), every step in the manufacturing process is clearly visualized and errors in the assembly process are avoided by using predefined assembly sequences. Components are scanned by the operator, automatically checked (component part check) and documented. The operator then manually confirms the assembly steps and tightening processes carried out via the touch screen of the AC Node, which can even be operated with gloves.
Due to the already integrated I/O level of the industrial PC, interaction with the workstation, e.g. component locking, is possible. This could also be used to query external buttons, switches, foot pedals or the like and integrate them into the process. Many of these applications, which previously required a separate PLC, can now be easily implemented.
By using the latest, hand-held transducerized range of screwdrivers ETD-MT of the MicroTorque series, problems during the assembly process are automatically detected and eliminated by intelligent tightening strategies such as the " seating control strategy".
The additional angle monitoring detects wrong or misaligned screws and missing components. By means of LED and tactile feedback, the ETD-MT screwdriver in combination with the MicroTorque Focus 6000 shows the worker immediately whether the pre-defined tightening parameters have been adhered to. The ergonomic and compact MicroTorque series, especially developed for screw assemblies with low torque values, is particularly suitable for assembly tasks in the electronics industry, medical technology and aerospace.
A similarly designed rework station enables simple and efficient rework of incorrect or missing assembly steps thanks to the immediate documentation and display of previous assembly results via the SQS software.
The operator guidance provided by the SQS software enables new employees to be quickly introduced to assembly tasks with minimal training. Assembly processes are clearly defined, simplify the work steps and thus lead to better results and higher employee and customer satisfaction. In the medium term, it is planned to add a pick-to-light solution for more efficient component picking. Pick-to-light racks signal to the operator via software-controlled light signals in which compartment the components to be used are located. These pick-to-light solutions are also controlled and documented by the SQS software.
Tatiana Smirnova, Supply-Chain-Manager
"Thanks to our AC Node and the process control software with operator guidance, we increased our FTR (First-Time-Right) from 95% to 98%, with the remaining 2% not being attributable to the production process. We were able to virtually eliminate complicated rework processes and largely eliminate human error. Thanks to the worker management, the training time of new employees was almost halved, as not all product variants have to be trained anymore".
Thanks to the comprehensive Atlas Copco software and hardware solutions, all future siblings of the Assembly Control Node will also be manufactured efficiently and with the highest product quality - just a family affair.