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‘Digital’ Solutions Connect Manufacturing Processes

Manufacturers are increasingly looking towards digital transformation and how Industry 4.0 technologies can be embedded in all processes. However, the big question remains. In the formative stages of the roll-out, how does a business ensure it gets a return on its investment, whether that is increased efficiency, cost savings or reduced lead times?

Through innovation and advanced technologies, UK based MetLase is scaling up the production of a suite of disruptive smart solutions that can deliver this crucial competitive advantage. Richard Gould, Business Development Manager at MetLase explains:

Human error remains a leading cause of machine downtime in factories

Metlase offer process solutions that have no room for error. Using a variety of sensor technology, MetLase experts have designed and built a series of smart products that can be customised to suit the manufacturing process. Non-human error, such as equipment moving out of tolerance, can cause massive production problems – MetLase technology can also detect these failures before they becomes an issue.

‘Factory of the Future’

The ‘Factory of the Future’ is a more efficient factory that always delivers products to its customers on time – but how can businesses implement this concept?

MetLase products can be introduced at different stages of the production process, with its most recent launch being the Smart Gauge, which was developed to solve the complex production issues of one of its customers.

“Imagine a production line where an existing 90-minute quality check can be achieved by simply using a 4-second quality check carried out by a MetLase Smart Gauge” – that’s the transformation that MetLase’s smart product has delivered.

One of the UK’s largest plastic fuel system manufacturers challenged MetLase to fix a production problem. Its multidisciplinary team of engineers we were able to design and build the right solution. And the solution didn’t only rectify the problem, it also delivered extra functionality that transformed the process.

Around 49 points of data to inspect, the manual inspection process can take around 40 to 90-minutes to complete. If the production line stops due to a fault, a substantial amount of scrap can occur. Turning to a digital solution that automates the inspection process would provide an instant assessment of the fuel tanks.

Rapid 4-second Quality Check

A Smart Gauge, which has over 50 different sensors, was the solution inspecting the fuel system instantly and reducing the time taken from potentially 90 minutes to just four seconds.

MetLase engineers developed the technology to include a ‘plug and play’ feature, which integrates into the Smart Gauge fixturing system.

Smart Assembly

Also in development at MetLase is a Smart Bench. Recognising the benefits of using digital sensors at different parts of the manufacturing process, sensors have been embedded in workstations to guide workers to the next step in assembly or alert workers if the wrong part is picked, providing Standard Operating Procedures at every stage.

Building the Factory of the Future

MetLase’s strategic plan will see the development of a suite of digital technologies, including digital twins, process modelling and simulation, control automation, industrial robotics, artificial intelligence, software programming, sensing, 3D printing, machine learning and augmented/virtual reality systems. All of these can be used in key markets such as automotive and aerospace, as well as emerging sectors such as off-site modular construction and renewable energy.

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