WARREN, MICH. (June 5, 2:15 p.m. ET) — Proper Group International Inc. is out to make tracking tool maintenance and history as easy as using your smartphone.
The Warren-based toolmaker has created a smartphone app, Tool Stats, that can help molders track the life of their tools.
Tool Stats can operate independently or connect with Proper's existing Web-based tool-tracking system for a mobile database with mold design, history, use and other key data.
“It's all about tracking information,” said Proper Vice President Joe Grippe. “You can get the tool-maintenance data, keep logs, access all kinds of information online any time, anywhere.”
Proper is finalizing a patent application for Tool Stats now. The app uses a matrix bar code that is placed on the mold. Scan the code with a smartphone's QR — or quick response — reader, and access details on the mold.
The same QR reader can allow tool-maintenance workers to log repairs or changes quickly, helping to keep records up-to-date. The information available through the app can be password-protected.
Proper first began developing its online system more than eight years ago and already uses tool tracking to keep tabs on everything going through its shops. It is now adding the Tool Stats bar code to every tool it produces, but is also making the program available through licensing.
The license will allow companies that oversee hundreds, or even thousands, of individual molds to implement the tracking system across its production, he said. An automaker, for instance, would have information available on every tool, regardless of where those tools are. That information is vital for timely production.
Grippe noted that Proper recently took over a tool-transfer program, which brought two molds into its operation from another company. The molds came with no paperwork, no data on how they were made and nothing about how they were maintained or even how they would operate in the mold.
“It took us the better part of two days to get those prepped and just find out what we were dealing with,” he said.
An integrated identification bar code would have sped up the transfer and final production, he said. Even if a company failed to keep maintenance records, the basic details of how the mold was built, where cooling lines were placed and other key records would still be in a central system.