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Raising the Bar for ‘Bright’ Returns

Anshul was distraught. This was the sixth request for a refund from the online marketplace this week. All the returns had more or less the same reason; poor quality or defective product. He had just been on the burner in the board meeting. The statistics showed close to 4 per cent rejects in the current year so far!

Moreover, the online marketplaces were very unforgiving. Customers were very prompt in giving negative reviews even for small defects and the brand was losing credibility very fast. The production costs were mounting and the quality control didn't seem to work as expected. They had increased the sampling sizes and added new quality metrics and measures but with the quantum of production increasing, the defective pieces kept leaking, mostly due to human errors.

He was under tremendous pressure and called for an emergency meeting with the key people from the quality and production team. "We have a big problem. Do what you have to, but we need to stop the defective pieces getting into the markets right now!", Anshul told the Quality Head. "That would amount to increasing the sampling sizes, some amount of repeat testing to rule out human errors and at least three times the current manpower" suggested the quality head, "and also an increased time to market". They both knew that the solution was simply not affordable with the already diminishing margins and competitive market!

An Example to Follow

"I think, adopting emerging technologies like IIoT would be a perfect fit to address this situation", volunteered Ajit, the new management trainee. "And what about the costs involved?", asked Anshul. "On the contrary, it should help us bring down the entire production cost, similar to what happened at Bright Bars", replied Ajit. Suddenly, everyone was paying attention. "Bright Bars had similar issues and they decided to seek help from the experts. They engaged with AideExpert Advisory who suggested IIoT based technologies to address the issue."

Bright Bars Limited an auto component manufacturer is a leading supplier in the market. With increasing demands, it was looking towards increasing the productivity and reducing the machine idle time to optimize the production costs. Also, they wanted to reduce the inventory costs by planning the production based on exact customer requirements and schedule in advance.

Then, there were also quality issues. While they had a quality process in place, it heavily relied on human testing. The magnetic testing, they employed for the surface checks was carried out by the operators manually and had a significant probability of errors. The internal and external cracks in the components were detected using ultrasonic testing. There had been cases of rejections which they could not afford.

IIoT to the Rescue

AideExpert did a detailed study of the current processes and then along with PTC suggested ThingWorx platform to implement an IIoT based process. The new process employed IIoT in the assembly line to ensure error-free quality checks. The automated quality checks for the materials were done at the start, middle and end of the process. Also, the assembly line was optimized and idle machine time was minimized. Employing IoT also provides the possibility of automatically switching off the idle machines to further reduce the operating costs. Thus, Bright Bars successfully eliminated the defective components reaching the market while reducing the cost of production.

"That sounds promising! I think we should explore the IIoT path without any further delay", Anshul was excited.

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