A ‘revolutionary’ approach to manufacturing superior suspension components
Over the past decade, the fourth stage of the Industrial Revolution, or “Industry 4.0,” has emerged, introducing new technologies and manufacturing capabilities that harness digital connectivity to produce higher-quality goods more quickly and more safely than ever before.
Industry 4.0 enables manufacturers to leverage intelligent automation that seamlessly connects machines and people, speeding the flow of information and analysis, and removing the limitation of human-only intervention. Companies that effectively utilize this model will see game-changing improvements at every stage of the product life cycle – design, engineering, production, inventory, sales, customer service and more.
MOOG has embraced this revolution across all manufacturing and assembly operations, using innovative technologies and related processes to deliver a new generation of steering and suspension parts that are safer, more durable and which help deliver a superior driving experience for the vehicle owner.
At the center of Industry 4.0 the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. IoT is the interconnection of machines, sensors and other devices. This vast network allows devices to share data in real time and enables both the machines and their human operators to continuously analyze data and take appropriate actions to solve problems and make other adjustments to ensure efficiency, consistency and, most important, higher quality.
Of course, it takes much more than effective digital communication to improve manufacturing processes. It also requires an ability to consistently harvest the right information and learn from it as a means to make every generation of product better than the previous one.
So, how is MOOG doing it?
At the front line of production is the equipment that actually does the building. MOOG uses smart machines equipped with servo motors and precision sensors, which collect data throughout each step of the production process, taking precise measurements to evaluate quality, both in-line and at the end-of-line, to ensure every part meets appropriate tolerances.
Big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence
Every data point collected from each sensor and interaction is transferred and stored. Using this data, machines can “learn” how to better complete particular tasks and predict future outcomes of specific actions. Data collected in real-time from MOOG product assembly operations includes:
- Poka yoke (A Japanese term meaning “error proofing”) – When a poka yoke is not fulfilled, production is halted until the error is corrected
- Product scrap rates
- Production parameters from servo motors, including force and displacement
- Output parameters (torque checks)
This level of sophisticated thinking helps machines work smarter, faster and better as each MOOG part moves through the assembly process in a cycle of continuous improvement. It also makes measurements more precise, providing the ability to seamlessly repeat actions for parts with matching parameters across production batches. This, in turn, helps ensure greater consistency and contributes to better overall product quality for customers.
Throughout this cycle, equipment also gains an improved ability to perform diagnostics and adapt to resolve its own problems, including functional issues that traditionally would have required human interaction.
Autonomous delivery and collaborative robotics
The level of intelligence enabled by IoT technologies provides an entirely new level of employee safety. Connected machines are able to navigate their work environments and conduct work for extended periods of time without a need for human interaction or service, meaning the potential for incidents and injuries is reduced or eliminated altogether.
And, when human intervention is required, the sensors and software running the machines are designed to ensure these close-proximity interactions are conducted as safely as possible.
Interconnected supply chains
A connected production line also makes is easier to adapt to changing market needs. Not only do Industry 4.0 technologies offer MOOG engineers greater insight and control through robust data visibility – the connected production line can also adjust with more agility, adapting operations and reconfiguring production lines in real-time. The flexible fixturing enabled by Industry 4.0 allows MOOG to produce hundreds of part variations from a single assembly line with minimal need for disruption as changes are implemented.
The ability to leverage these capabilities allows MOOG to introduce new products faster and more cost effectively than its peers.
Delivering a better customer experience
Naturally, greater production and supply chain efficiency can result in more timely releases of the latest steering and suspension parts. But there are many other customer benefits, as well.
Steering and suspension parts are among the most vital safety components on any vehicle. More than simply delivering a smooth ride, they work in tandem with other components to provide precise steering and consistent stability. As a result, steering and suspension parts must meet the most stringent tolerances. Thanks to Industry 4.0 technology, drivers can be more confident than ever that their MOOG steering and suspension parts will meet these standards every time. Quality control is precisely and closely monitored by digital sensors, which are less prone to human error. And as each part makes its way through the plant, every corresponding machine and computer is identifying new ways to deliver outstanding quality more efficiently and effectively.
And, to go a step further, each MOOG part is fully traceable via a serial number assigned to that part’s production parameters. If an irregularity is discovered, every affected part is immediately identifiable, allowing for a quick and appropriate response.
MOOG is so confident in this rigorous new approach to product assembly that it offers a market-leading 3-year guarantee in Europe. As a result, workshops that install genuine MOOG parts can be confident that each component was designed and built to provide superior performance and durability.