Blog Post By Ian Mogab, Controls Engineer
A heavy equipment manufacturer had an issue with a manual grease dispensing application causing quality control issues in a powertrain system. The customer had a grease pump with a very old grease dispensing handle which had no interlocks to ensure the proper amount of grease was dispensed at the correct time. The operators would read the work instructions to dispense a certain amount of grease and then apply what they thought was the correct amount, which was incredibly inaccurate. The result was that some systems requiring grease would not receive enough grease and even worse, some systems would receive none at all. The customer was having issues with these systems failing in the field costing the company a significant amount of money.
Patti Engineering designed and installed a turnkey system to guarantee that each part received the correct amount of grease, with a repeatable tolerance. We designed and installed a new electrical panel and grease handling panel for the workstation. The grease system consists of a pump, grease capable solenoid valve, grease meter, and interlocked dispense handle. Using commands from the customer’s manufacturing execution system (MES), we were able to interlock the grease dispensing process meaning that the operator is now required to dispense the exact amount of grease required for that operation before moving on to the next step of assembly. After a grease dispense is finished, messages are sent back to the customer’s quality system. If a failure does occur they can check and see the exact amount of grease that was dispensed for that part number.
The customer has a repeatable and reliable method of dispensing and tracking grease output, resulting in fewer quality control issues. If any quality control issues do arise, they now have data from the system to help narrow down the issue.