Molded rubber parts manufacturers require very precise measurement of ingredients when compounding materials. It is imperative to maintain consistency while compounding so that the outcome of molding parts is predictable. In addition, accurate measurements yield compounded batches that minimize flash, scrap, and rework when molding occurs. Compounding personnel were required to look up recipes in a recipe book to determine needed ingredients. They would then search for the required ingredients from inventory, many times ignoring partials or the oldest stock. Batch tags would be hand written and attached to each batch basket containing the ingredients to be mixed. Ingredient batch numbers were frequently not recorded due to the difficulty in maintaining the necessary paperwork. Therefore, compounded batches were unable to be traced to their source ingredients. Many customers were becoming very concerned that product traceability was not maintained to the original ingredients.
An industrial PC workstation with a color touch screen, Intermec 1550 laser scanner, and Intermec 9730 wedge reader is connected to an Intermec 3400 bar code printer and two scales. The large capacity Rice Lake BenchMark™ scale is controlled by the PC through an IQ plus® 510 indicator while the smaller Rice Lake BenchMark™ scale is controlled via a IQ plus® 355 indicator.
The operator now selects from a list of available orders that need to be compounded. Once the order is selected, the operator is guided through the sequence of ingredients required, together with the quantity necessary for the compound. The system prompts the operator to use the correct scale for weighing each designated ingredient. As each ingredient is weighed, the system requests that the operator enter the batch/serial number of the ingredient in order to associate it with the batch number of the compound. Unique batch number tags are printed and attached to the batch baskets for the number of batches that will be compounded. As each ingredient is added to the basket the serial number of the ingredient is entered into the system, together with the batch number of the compound. Therefore, the integrity of the traceability from the source ingredient to the compounded batch number is maintained. Mixing station operators scan the batch tag and their employee number when batches are started and removed from the mixing equipment. Mixed materials are then placed on trays with the batch tag awaiting distribution to the presses that will be used to mold the pieces. All information collected is fully integrated with the Telesis business system operating on a UNIX system with an Ingres database.
Production employees are spending more time producing products since they no longer have to write down production information. Inventory personnel are now directed to locate and pick partials first, and ingredients prior to their expiration dates saving the losses associated with unused partials and expired products. Visual cues allow compounding personnel to more accurately weigh each of the individual ingredients. This accuracy is providing the benefit of product consistency, which is resulting in reduced scrap, rework, and salvage quantities from production. Most importantly, the customer's need for product traceability is now being met.