HIGH ACCURACY COUNTING SCALE HELPS STANLEY HAND TOOLS INCREASE ACCURACY, MAINTAIN EFFICIENCYIt's safe to say that the Tape Rule Department of Stanley Hand Tools has enjoyed a large measure of success. In fact, Stanley Hand Tools is the world's leading supplier of tape rules, distributing well over 10 million tape rules each year to a variety of industries: housing, carpentry, manufacturing, construction, and building - in short, anywhere that something has to be measured.
This success has, in turn, contributed greatly to the Stanley Hand Tools Division as a whole. The division manufactures some of the world's highest quality tools, including tools for carpenters, paint preparation and application, masonry, and agricultural applications, as well as tool boxes.
In order to maintain their lofty industry status, the Tape Rule Department must ensure that every step of the production process be designed for peak productivity and, more importantly, accuracy. For an example of this approach, one need look no further than the tape rule plating operation, where a high-accuracy counting scale from Setra Systems, Inc., a Boxborough, Massachusetts manufacturer of industrial scales, plays an integral role in the operation's overall efficiency.
Through their patented variable capacitance technology, the Setra 70 CP counting scale provides Stanley with counting resolution as fine as one part in 750,000. Consequently, the plating department has realized a 5% increase in counting accuracy from 92 to 97%. Further, the assembly operation is guaranteed an accurate number of cases in each box (an average of 300 cases per box) that is received from the plating operation - a crucial consideration in Stanley's ongoing efforts to enhance productivity.
"If assembly receives an inaccurate number of cases in a box, they have to stop the process to get another box," explains Mark Staranchak, area supervisor of plating for tape rules. "With guaranteed accuracy, the efficiency of the assembly operation has been noticeably improved."
"We run this system 24 hours a day, six days a week," he continued. "If we're not sending the correct number of cases in each box to assembly, it could translate to a serious productivity problem down the road."
The superior performance of their current scale is in stark contrast to the performance of the scales that the company utilized previously. Besides problems with accuracy - and consequently, inventory - the antiquated scales were difficult to program. Recalibration of each scale was a lengthy and complicated process. Conversely, recalibration can now be accomplished with the push of a button.
In Stanley's search to replace their older scales, according to Staranchak, they found that Setra offered the most accurate scale for the money.
"The percentage of error [standard deviation of + or - 0.0005 pounds] was lower than any other scale in the price range," he said. "To test the scale's accuracy, we repeatedly weighed known amounts of cases. The Setra scale produced no errors; the others were not only erroneous but inconsistent as well."
At the time they were reviewing their weighing requirements, the division was concurrently seeking ISO certification. The decision to upgrade the accuracy of their scales was made partly to enhance the chances for certification (it was subsequently granted).
The plastic tape rule cases arrive from receiving, are placed on a carousel, and travel through the vacuum metalizing system. Once the metalcoating has been applied, the cases are painted. The finished cases are placed on a conveyor and travel towards an empty box that rests on the Setra 70 CP scale. The average piece weight of one case is entered into the scale. As more cases are added to the box, the scale computes the total number. When the box reaches capacity, an operator stops the conveyor and changes the box.
The Tape Rule department's effort to enhance efficiency have caused it to review other aspects of the operation, including material handling. The conveyor process that transports the finished cases to packaging, for instance, is a direct outgrowth of this effort.
In addition, the company reviewed its electroplating process due to certain environmental concerns; ironically, the changes made to the process also had a positive impact on efficiency. In the past, electroplating - the process of applying a metal finish through electrolysis - was used to coat the plastic cases. However, in an effort to move to a more environmentally sound system, a new process was developed which subsequently improved productivity.
"We switched to the vacuum metalizing system because the materials involved are better for the environment," Staranchak said. "And because the metal immediately dries, our overall efficiency is increased."
Clearly, the Setra 70 CP scale in the plating operation has produced tangible, quantifiable results. In fact, based on its performance, Setra scales have been purchased for use in knife blade manufacturing and assembly. Yet, as Staranchak points out, the intangible benefits are equally noteworthy.
"Because the scale is much more user friendly, the workers don't feel the same level of stress they once did when it comes to recalibration, entering average piece weights, or other operations," he said. "That's a benefit we really can't put a price on."
As seen in part from Modern Materials Handling, July 1998.
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