Lighthouse reveals MES software for Tool Management functionality

Lighthouse Systems has enhanced the Tool Management module of its MES software, Shopfloor-Online, to address complex tool management requirements.

Tools are key components in manufacturing industries utilising injection or forming processes. Many quality issues can originate from defective tools and consequences can be far-reaching, from wasted material to production delays and product recalls.

Despite this, Tool Management has been a largely neglected area of manufacturing operations systems and manufacturers have been forced to use either niche applications or home-grown solutions such as complex spreadsheets to manage their requirements.

“Lighthouse System has been offering a tool management module as part of its Manufacturing Execution System for a number of years. However, we recognised that in some industries such as can making, plastic injection moulding and glass production, the manufacturing process uses a collection of tools and sub-tools that are more complex to manage,” said Paul Barber, director, Lighthouse Systems.

According to the company, the enhanced Tool Management functionality of Shopfloor-Online addresses these needs. “It is now possible to track tools and sub-tools over their complete life cycle from purchase, through use, refurbishment and to their eventual retirement” concluded Barber.

The Tool Management Module allows the inventory creation and classification of different tool types. Tools can be assigned a location and state so production operators know at all times of their current condition and where to find them.

The module also gives the ability to create a template showing how tools should be assembled (i.e. BodyMaker Tool Pack = 1 Punch, 3 Ironing Rings, 1 Redraw Iron; Injection Moulding Tool = 48 Cavities each with an Insert).

In the case of can making, there are specific rules within a progression table that determine the combination of Rings that can be used with a specific Punch. The progression table is also managed within Shopfloor-Online’s Tooling Module and is unique to each permutation of can size, material/material gage and can profile

These complex tool packs can be assembled and disassembled, tracking which sub-tools are in each high level parent tool. Sub tools can be swapped in/out as required.

Tool inventory reports show current stock levels in more elaborate implementations and can also forecast tooling requirements according to the upcoming production schedule (taking into account the expected remaining life of those existing tools).

All production jobs are tracked and production cycles are automatically recorded against the assigned tooling. Subsequently, Shopfloor-Online knows the lifetime cycle counts of each sub-tool between refurbishments.

All tools have a user definable set of “states” for example: Available, In-Use, Requires Checking, Requires Repair, etc.

For the purpose of Tool Maintenance, each tool can have specific critical dimensions with permitted tolerances that need to be tracked. Using the Quality Module within the Shopfloor-Online suite, these critical dimensions are recorded against the unique ID of the tool so that the tool can be automatically graded.

All tools can have maintenance carried out on them. The maintenance procedures can be defined in the Maintenance Module, and all maintenance work is tied to the tool.

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