All photos courtesy of Ingersoll Rand

Automotive manufacturers have had to adapt to a tremendous amount of change since the start of 2010. And now, amid a global pandemic, we are focused on the future and how we will serve our community, country, and industry. When faced with the need to quickly change production lines and maintain quality output, lean on digital connectivity and insightful data to navigate and keep up with demand.

Manufacturers can improve takt time and costs with a connected tool controller. In 2018, a leading car manufacturer finished the year with an award-winning vehicle model and decided to launch a hybrid version of it. As the company began making the hybrid, the demand for conventional vehicles remained high. For every 8-to-10 vehicles they made, only one was a hybrid. With high production demands, reducing takt time became a top priority during the pilot period, focusing on continuous improvements.

The manufacturer relied on data to ensure every car component, down to each fastener, was secured properly and efficiently. As vehicles rolled out of production, the tools captured torque, angle rotation, and additional cycle data, providing traceability and a history on each car.

Supporting continuous improvement, the ability to review manufacturing data to gain actionable insights is crucial when producing any kind of mission-critical equipment. In the event of a product recall, the company can use this data to provide proof that parts were fastened correctly.

While the company had data collection processes in place, they experienced hiccups with the product’s complexity. Smart tools and wrenches connected to a corded control system for trim application, finish work, interior installation, dashboard panels, and components under the hood and around the engine.

The connected tools were supposed to make employees’ lives easier by providing intricate customization for every application, valuable data for review, and a faster process. Yet, the system cost more than $10,000, and the downtime required to set it up was time consuming. A confusing interface made the controller difficult to install and learn. The company spent an excessive amount of time trying to learn how to use it. And once the tools were mastered, the system frequently experienced glitches. The corded controller could not keep up and hindered production, so the company searched for a new solution to give employees more control over their tools and to speed takt time.

More control, larger data pool

A new flexible technology allowed the company to connect workers to their tools. Working with Ingersoll Rand, they implemented the cordless Insightqcx controller and saved more than 50% on assembly system cost.

The system offers manufacturers the same torque, angle rotation, and other customizable configurations, but includes a user-friendly interface with intuitive features that reduce employee training time.

With a system that is simple enough for multiple employees to use, as opposed to the previous practice of designating one or two software experts, many employees can initiate adjustments on the controller. This flexibility allows the company to implement necessary changes faster – improving uptime.

Speeding up production and takt time is an obvious benefit for any manufacturer. However, this is only valuable if the quality of the vehicle remains intact. Using the Ingersoll Rand cordless controller, the company was also able to store and analyze a large data pool to ensure accurate fastening, problem-solve, and spot trends that could contribute to lean efforts.

Adaptable, flexible tooling

The Insightqcx cordless controller works in tandem with Ingersoll Rand”s QX series ergonomic tightening system tools to make the car company’s new pilot model a success. With technologies like these, automotive companies can easily adapt manufacturing lines and collect data to support continuous improvement.

Ingersoll Rand

About the author: Tom Hutchens is Precision Fastening Sales Leader at Ingersoll Rand. He can be reached at 586.322.9851 or tom.hutchens@irco.com.