Operator/Tool Assist (poka yoke)

The Watbox™ guides, monitors, and verifies operator and tool actions, combining a skilled operator with a powerful poka-yoke for quality and efficiency.

In this example, the Watbox™ reads sequenced instructions, with part requirements and tool set-points from a production or service database.

  1. For each joint, the instruction is displayed on the screen, part pick verified, and torque limit set on the wrench.
  2. After each step is successfully performed, the Watbox™ prompts for the next step until the sequence is complete.
  3. Feedback is given to correct errors, and information is written to a QA database for logging.
  4. Up to eight tools can be connected to one 3000 series device.

Operator/Tool Assist (poka yoke)

Human dexterity, flexibility, and the ability to adapt and think make a skilled operator superior to a robot for many production tasks or maintenance and repair. Even so, as humans we are not the best at memorizing long complex recipes, and even on simple tasks we may sometimes make mistakes.

The Watbox™ is proven over three years of continuous operation in 100+ installed workcells, in one of North America’s most advanced automotive assembly plant, as an ideal operator/tool assist and poka-yoke.

'Poka yoke' is a Japanese term for for ‘mistake-proofing’ and describes a process or tool that seeks to eliminate the possibility of human error through a visual aid, interlock, or similar. As an integrated HMI, controller, and communications bridge, the Watbox can push information to operators, monitor tools and sensors, to validate that required steps were performed, feedback the results to the operator, and upload the results to a business or QA system for traceability.

In our example, a product moves through the production floor from cell to cell. This might be an automotive, recreational vehicle, appliance, or other assembly facility where each unit might have differing colors, sub-assemblies, or options. It might be maintenance or repair facility where operators work on different products from day to day.

As the product enters the work-cell, the Watbox™ pulls the sequence of steps to be performed from the business information or ERP system.

The instructions are displayed on the built-in color LCD display in sequence, as text, illustrations, photos, even video. Sensors and semi-automated tools such as a torque wrench connect directly to the Watbox™'s serial, digital, or analog inputs.

As an example, the display instructs the operator to take a nut from parts bin “A”, install it at the location shown on the screen, and tighten it to a specific torque.

A simple optical sensor on the parts bin confirms that the operator picked up the right nut. The operator then places and tightens the nut with a torque preset in the wrench by the Watbox™. Some tools contain position sensors, which the Watbox™ reads as an added verification that the tool is at the expected location and angle.

The Watbox™ then confirms that the operation was done as expected and prompts the operator to proceed to the next step, else it notifies the operator to check or redo the previous step. Multi-color stacklight LEDs are built into the front panel of the Watbox™, and a mini 3 or 5 color optional stacklight plugs right into the top of the unit.

When the entire sequence of operations are performed correctly, the Watbox™ clears the product to advance to the next workcell. The Watbox™ sends information directly to a quality database logging that the operations were performed, by which operator, on which day and time, for full traceability.

A built-in HID badge reader restricts a bypass or fault clearance to authorized team leaders only. Also, our PCS™ Permission Control Software allows you to easily set up personnel as operators, team-leads, or engineers, with varying degrees of permissions for operations or settings.

Users can write their own plug-ins for tools, or download plug-ins from ARCX’s ever increasing selection of popular tools, including Stanley®, Atlas Copco® and others.