Manufacturing operations often require a large number of different parts. Fasteners can constitute a portion of these, including everything from rivets and tabs, to screws, nuts, bolts and washers. Connectors of various types, such as circular, high voltage, modular, surface mount, flex circuit, and many others are also required. Various types of electronic components may be used, such as microprocessors, led displays, filters, capacitors, switches, fuses, transformers and resistors. Other parts can include gaskets, overlays, and a huge array of plastic components. To complicate the situation, there may be a number of different items that are being manufactured. Each item has its own parts list. But there may also be a number of shared parts between the different items. Keeping track of the parts in inventory is critical. Any single part that is out of stock can close down a manufacturing line. Some parts may have long lead times, requiring them to be re-ordered long before the stock is depleted. While software systems may help keep track of forecasted usage, actual usage will almost always vary. This is due to parts that may be ruined or lost during the manufacturing process. For these reasons, it is preferable to maintain actual inventory levels at all times. Of course, it is not practical to continually count all the parts in each of the bins. Parts counting scales are available to help in this process. In this case, a sample of a part is placed onto the scale platform.
The counting scale calculates the weight of an individual part. A full bin of parts can then be placed on the scale. It will subtract the weight of the bin, and then display the total number of parts in the bin. While this will speed up the process of taking inventory, it will still be a very time consuming process if there are many bins with parts. Some manufacturing organizations have given the responsibility of maintaining adequate stock of required parts to their parts distributor. In this case, providing real time inventory requires the distributor to come on site to count the parts.
Arlyn Scales provides a solution to this type of bin inventory control with a bin scale system with remote access. Individual scale platforms are placed underneath each parts bin in question. A number of bin scales can be connected to a scale controller to obtain the weight in each bin. Many scale controllers can then be wired together into a small specialty network. This network is attached to an Internet connected communication module. A remote web hosted computer communicates with each of the communication modules. Each module reports the weight of each bin to which it is connected. A database on the remote computer maintains the piece weight of each part that is being monitored, along with the empty, tare weight of the bins that hold the parts. Given this information, the host computer can calculate the number of pieces that is currently in each of the bins. The database also holds alarm and target information. When the number of pieces in a bin falls below the required value, an alarm is generated so that the distributor can arrange to refill the bin in question. Because the data is hosted on the web, anyone with the proper security permission can get access to it. This allows employees of the distributor to see this data from any office where they have a web browser. In fact, a salesperson or stock employee can even view this information, again with appropriate password security protection, from a cell phone or other device that includes web browser capability.
Inventory control bin scale systems offer significant savings to the parts distributor. While there is a cost for the bin scales themselves, there will be huge savings in time. There can be many fewer visits to the manufacturer’s sites. The process of acquiring the actual inventory values will be much quicker. As it will now be automated, it will also be much more accurate. The bin scales themselves may include a local display with alarm lights, so on site employees will be also be able to be alerted to low inventory situations. Because this is a web hosted system, the distributor may access data from many different manufacturing clients. As there are security measures in place, only those people who should be allowed to view inventory information from any particular client will be able to do so.