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Lock Out Waste With SPC

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 7:04am

Eugene, OR — The quality department at Yale Commercial Locks and Hardware takes its job seriously — assuring that the products they manufacture meet the strict requirements of a name synonymous with security. But in an ultra-competitive environment, simply meeting those requirements isn’t enough. You’ve got to do it while increasing profitability and reducing costs. That is exactly what Jason DeWitt and Wayne Furniss did when they implemented a statistical process control solution from I&R Partners that features the Datalogic Falcon rugged mobile computer.

Yale Commercial Locks and Hardware develops and manufactures a comprehensive line of door hardware and locks, including an extensive range of mortise and cylindrical (bored) locks, exit devices, door closers, cylinders, electromechanical products and key systems. Their plant in Lenoir City, Tenn. is an impressive manufacturing facility with skilled machinists, operators, and the latest in CNC equipment. There they manufacture locking hardware that relies on tight tolerances and precision to provide smooth operation and security. Slight deviations in materials, wear on equipment, changes in temperature, and the dulling of cutting tools could lead to imperfect parts. That’s where quality checks, tooling, gages, training and procedures come into play to keep parts within specification.

Yale has a strong commitment to quality with programs and procedures in place for operators to check parts as they are produced. Secondary independent sampling is performed by the quality team. Data collected is plotted to show trends and to make improvements in the process. Unfortunately, in the time it takes for the data to be collected and recorded by hand, then entered into a spreadsheet and graphed, several hundred out-of-specification parts could be processed. Those parts would need to be reworked or scrapped. But this is not the case at Yale today.

I&R Partners are pioneers in the area of mobile data collection for statistical process control (SPC) in manufacturing environments. Leveraging Datalogic Mobile rugged computers with wireless communications, I&R Partners’ DC-Stat software products have shown they can save manufacturing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars. “We didn’t invent statistical quality processes,” says Paul Iannello of I&R Partners. “That started in the 1920s and was popularized by Deming in the 1940s and ‘50s. What we have done is take the power of SPC and make it useful in a revolutionary way that cuts costs, cuts time, and impacts the bottom line with a reduction in waste. We put computing power in the hands of the operators so they have the information they need to make adjustments and prevent imperfect parts before they happen.”

During the manufacturing process, parts are checked using the instruments and gauges at a machining center by the operator. In the past, the values for critical measurements were recorded on paper. Records would be collected at the end of the shift, or at the end of the day. The collected data would be entered into a spreadsheet and graphed to show trend lines. This analysis was completed in some cases several days after the parts were created. By this time the number of parts that fell out of specifications could be significant. Quality personnel would need to identify complete lots to be sent to rework or be identified as scrap.


Automated electronic instruments and gages such as digital calipers, digital micrometers, digital height gages, and others have integrated serial ports for transmitting data. This port is connected to the Datalogic Falcon running DC-Stat software. As components are manufactured, machine operators inspect critical dimensions using the gauges and instruments. The measurements are transmitted via the serial port to the Falcon. DC-Stat software, executing on the Falcon, gives instant feedback to the operator. Trend lines and analysis show the operator what is going on in real time. This allows corrections to be made during the manufacturing process before parts are made out of tolerance. Simultaneously, data from the instruments and gages is transmitted via wireless communications to a PC in the Quality Department office. The same analysis is automatically performed there indicating the performance at each manufacturing station.

At Yale, the manufacturing facility is separated into four profit centers, Cylinders, Mortise, Exits, and Bored Locks. Jason DeWitt is the Quality Technician who supports the Cylinders profit center and Wayne Furniss is the Quality Manager overseeing all four units. “Jason was new to the position when the equipment came,” says Furniss. “He quickly implemented the system and the results have been remarkable.”

 “I wanted to put it into use and it was easy,” says Dewitt, who has been with the company for more than 15 years. “The guys at I&R Partners were very helpful and supportive. Once I had the system set up it was easy to set up each operator with a mobile computer and show them how to use it.” 

It was clear the system was improving quality and reducing scrap but it wasn’t easy to see how much of an improvement there was. The data collected prior to implementing the I&R Partners solution was not as easy to interpret. Jason decided to tackle this question too. “We had a Christmas shut down of the plant so I took all the old records home. I was able to separate the hand written data to match up with what we collect automatically now. What I learned was incredible. We have basically eliminated scrap from several of our processes,” says DeWitt.

 “When I saw the numbers Jason calculated I was amazed,” says Furniss. Overall scrap is down 80 percent and assembly rework is down 60 percent. The actual reduction in scrap cannot be published but the value is greater than $25,000. “These savings are for only one profit center. I am looking to see how we can implement this system across our whole plant.”

Datalogic Mobile is a global manufacturer of mobility solutions for retail applications, assisted shopping, warehouse solutions, and field-force automation. They can be found online at www.mobile.datalogic.com. I&R Partners, LLC is a manufacturer of Quality Control software designed for systems integration of turnkey data collection solutions: www.iandrpartners.com.

Yale® Commercial Locks and Hardware, with plant operations in Lenoir City, Tennessee, develops and manufactures a comprehensive line of door hardware and locks, including an extensive range of mortise and cylindrical locks, exit devices, door closers, electromechanical products and key systems. Online at www.yalecommercial.com.

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