Bruce Weeks, whose company Q Net Systems in Portsmouth, Ohio, is marketing a new, Adam-brand inspection and data-acquisition software for blow molders and rotational molders, speaks from experience - he used to own a blow molding company.
Because blow molded and rotomolded parts are large and hollow, traditionally, quality-control employees have pulled parts off and sawed them apart. Many processors upgraded to ultrasonic gauges for measuring thickness and weight.
But the problem then becomes: What do you do with the data?
Weeks said too many small and midsize molders still rely on plant workers to keep logs or jot down notes for the next shift.
Enter Adam, which stands for automated data accumulation module. ``We've automated the whole inspection, so a person can be trained to use Adam in a matter of hours,'' Weeks said, explaining the product in a visit to Plastics News' offices in Akron.
Weeks founded Portsmouth Plastics Inc., which extrusion blow molded large parts on three accumulator-head machines. He ran into common problems of small blow molders - caused, he said, by incomplete, sometimes inaccurate data collection. Weeks developed Adam for his blow molding operation.
He sold Portsmouth Plastics in 1999 and formed Q Net Systems, working with Janna Gallaher, a professor of computer engineering at Shawnee State University. ``It's totally paperless and real-time,'' Weeks said.
Factory employees measure parts using ultrasonic instruments and/or a digital micrometer. The information is fed directly into a computer database, which develops a range of management reports. The time of inspection automatically is inserted into the report.
Adam also can detect parison changes over time, and the impact of things like humidity and a change in melt index of a batch of resin. The software also records what was done to correct problems.
Once the data is locked into the system, it cannot be edited or changed - an important feature for ISO certification, Gallaher said.
A flashing red light alerts management and operators when a part is out of tolerance.
Adam, which can be customized, also has a comprehensive production-tracking feature that follows the part from the pallet through final delivery.
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