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Numéro de publicationWO2001050209 A1
Type de publicationDemande
Numéro de demandePCT/US2000/032867
Date de publication12 juil. 2001
Date de dépôt4 déc. 2000
Date de priorité30 déc. 1999
Numéro de publicationPCT/2000/32867, PCT/US/0/032867, PCT/US/0/32867, PCT/US/2000/032867, PCT/US/2000/32867, PCT/US0/032867, PCT/US0/32867, PCT/US0032867, PCT/US032867, PCT/US2000/032867, PCT/US2000/32867, PCT/US2000032867, PCT/US200032867, WO 0150209 A1, WO 0150209A1, WO 2001/050209 A1, WO 2001050209 A1, WO 2001050209A1, WO-A1-0150209, WO-A1-2001050209, WO0150209 A1, WO0150209A1, WO2001/050209A1, WO2001050209 A1, WO2001050209A1
InventeursScott S. Haraburda, Rex Edward Masterson, Angelika Howard Clark, Michael Ray Mccormick
DéposantGeneral Electric Company
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes:  Patentscope, Espacenet
Method and system for monitoring production data
WO 2001050209 A1
Résumé
A method and system for monitoring production in one or more production lines monitored by sensors associated with a computer network. Through sensors (44) associated with the one or more production lines, a plurality of production readings, including one or more of: temperature readings for a production line environment, pressure readings for the production line environment, motor speed readings for a motor associated with the production line, humidity readings for the production line environment, rates at which the production line is fed with materials, sources from which the production line is fed, and output rates of the production line are obtained. Another step includes obtaining quality data for the products output by the production line, the quality data being stored in a quality database of a laboratory information management system, the quality data including one or more of: rheology values, appearance measurements, compositional data, strength data, and color data. A production run sheet (80) including the obtained production readings and quality data can then be generated.
Revendications  (Le texte OCR peut contenir des erreurs.)
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A method for monitoring production in one or more production lines monitored by sensors associated with a computer network, comprising the steps of:
obtaining, through sensors (44) associated with the one or more production lines, production readings, including one or more of: temperature readings for a production line environment, pressure readings for the production line environment, motor speed readings for a motor associated with the production line, humidity readings for the production line environment, rates at which the production line is fed with materials, sources from which the production line is fed, and output rates of the production line;
obtaining quality data for the products output by the production line, the quality data being stored in a quality database of a laboratory information management system (52), the quality data including one or more of: rheology values, appearance measurements, compositional data, strength data, and color data; and
generating a production run sheet (80) including the obtained production readings and quality data.
2. The method of claim 1 , wherein the step of generating is provided by printing a copy of the production run sheet.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of generating is performed by displaying the production run sheet on a computer display screen associated with the network.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the steps of obtaining are performed at predetermined interval.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein the predetermined interval is specified by a user associated with the computer network.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein the steps of obtaining are performed automatically in response to a change in production data or quality data which is greater than a predetermined threshold.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of entering supplemental user comments into the computer network prior to the step of generating, and wherein the production run sheets includes the supplemental user comments.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of generating a statistical quality control graph based on the production data and the quality data.
9. The method of claim 1 , further comprising the steps of integrating the production data and the quality data, and storing the integrated data on a server (40) associated with the computer network.
10. A system for monitoring production data, comprising:
a first database (52,54,56,58, 54) storing quality data indicative of measured qualities of production output, the measured qualities including one or more of: rheology values, appearance measurements, compositional data, strength data, and color data;
a plurality of sensors connected to monitor production values including one or more of: production output, production input, and production environment readings; and
a computer (40, 44) configured to obtain the measured qualities from the first database and the production values from the plurality of sensors, and to generate a production run sheet (80) based on at least some of the measured qualities and the production values.
11. The method of claim 1 , wherein the production run sheet includes date and time information.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein the computer generates a printed copy of the production run sheet.
13. The system of claim 11, wherein the computer displays the production run sheet on a computer display screen associated with the network.
14. The system of claim 11, wherein the measured qualities and production values are generated at a predetermined interval.
15. The system of claim 14, wherein the predetermined interval is specified by a user associated with the computer network.
16. The system of claim 11, measured qualities and production values are generated automatically in response to a change in production data or quality data which is greater than a predetermined threshold.
17. The system of claim 11, wherein the computer (44) is further configured to receive supplemental user comments, and wherein the production run sheets includes the supplemental user comments.
18. The system of claim 11, wherein the computer (44) is further configured to generate a statistical quality control graph based on the production data and the quality data.
19. The system of claim 11, wherein the production run sheet (80) includes date and time information.
20. The system of claim 11, further comprising a data integrator connected to the first database, the plurality of sensors, and the the data integrator integrating the production data and the quality data, and storing the integrated data on a server associated with the computer network.
Description  (Le texte OCR peut contenir des erreurs.)

METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR MONITORING PRODUCTION DATA

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application Serial No. 60/173,747 filed December 30, 1999, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a computer system for producing an electronic production run sheet and more particularly to a method and system for automatically capturing and storing production readings, production setpoints and quality assurance lab testing data and other manufacturing related data.

During crystalline finishing, plastic pellets, which have been produced previously in a resin process, are finished. The finishing process encompasses adding various materials to the pellets, such as, flame-retardants, pigment, glass, etc., depending on the final use thereof. After the addition, or compounding process, the pellets are extruded into final pellets.

Previously during the finishing process, the production operator has been required to manually enter the Lot Number, Production Identification, production setpoints, readings (such as temperature and extruder conditions) and the quality assurance (QA) lab testing data (such as physical properties and visual inspection results) onto a production "run sheet". This manual procedure needs to be done every two to four hours during production time. The task is a very manually intensive task, requiring the operator to not only search for the production properties, but to record the data onto a paper run sheet. This manual process uses valuable operator time and often results in data entry errors. Moreover, the operator is often required to search for the handwritten data within filing cabinets, which are located in several different locations throughout the production site. Thus, there is a need to alleviate the manual, hand written process used for recording data during crystalline finishing.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention is to provide a computer system which automatically captures production readings, production setpoints and QA lab testing data in an electronic format capable of being searched and analyzed.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a method and system for electronically capturing production data so as to free up the operators time, resulting in increased capacity and improved reliability of the data recorded. Moreover, an electronic copy of the production run sheet will speed up and improve the historical analysis of the data.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments of the invention, which refers to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

Fig. 1 is an example of a manual form of a production run sheet previously used to record data.

Fig. 2 is a block diagram of the computer system of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Fig. 3 illustrates a Laboratory Information Management System data display screen.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to Fig. 1, an example of a manual version of a run sheet 10 is shown. The manual version is in a tabular form with various columns in which the operator must record the production information by hand. As shown in Fig. 1 , after recording the product and lot number, date and time, the operator must hand write the temperature set points at 12 for the various zones of the product. The operator must also record various feeder set points 14. Lab result data points are recorded at 16. In the present example, the melt flow index (MFI) of the product during the various runs 18a-18f is determined and plotted in a Statistical Quality Control Graph (SQC) 20.

Although the system of the preferred embodiment is described with relation to crystalline finishing, it should be appreciated that the system and method of the present invention can be applied to various other manufacturing and data retrieval and storage environments.

The present invention utilizes a manufacturing execution system (MES) computer system 30. Referring to Fig. 2, the computer architecture of MES system

30 of a preferred embodiment of the present invention will be described. System 30 includes a database server 40 and computers 44. Although only two computers 44 are shown for simplicity it should be appreciated that a plurality of computers can be located at different locations in the production site for use by a plurality of operators. Moreover database server 40 can be identical to computer 44 and is distinguishable in the preferred embodiment only in that server 40 is the primary data storage source with which data stored in computers 44 can be synchronized therewith.

Computer(s) 44 of the preferred embodiment are coupled to database server 40 by communications channel 60. Communications channel 60 can be a network, such as a local area network (LAN), a direct cable connection, a connection via phone lines and modems, or the like. Further, communications channel 60 can be continuous or intermittent and can be any mechanism for providing the communications described below. For example, communications channel 60 can include removable media, such as a diskette. Data can be sent over communications channel 60 in any appropriate format, such as e-mail in simple mail transfer protocol

(SMTP), as attachments to email, as ASCII or binary files using file transfer protocol (FTP), or the like.

Database server 40 is managed by a relational database management system (RDBMS) 70, such as the Oracle Relational Database Management System by Oracle Corporation of Redwood Shores, California. RDBMS 70 manages a relational database to store the data. The data records, data tables, and data relationships contained in the database managed by RDBMS 70 enable MES system 30 to provide increased reliability in searching and analyzing quality assurance (QA) lab testing data.

In the preferred embodiment of MES computer system 30, database server 40 is a computer having sufficient resources to support RDBMS 70. Moreover, database server 40 supports multi-operator access to RDBMS 70 over a computer network. Each operator computer terminal 44 should be sufficient to support an operating system such as Windows 98, UNIX or other similar operating systems. These systems are required for communication with the Laboratory Information

Management System (LIMS) 52, which executes on computers 44, as well.

As discussed, computers 44 execute application programs which communicate with RDBMS 70 to query the databases managed by RDBMS 70 and to provide data for that database. The LIMS database 52 in this process involves the display and storage of the lab tests, along with the required specifications, and is another source of production data, i.e., the test results of the product properties.

The QA lab test data are available electronically throughout the LIMS database 52 described above (an electronic database system on the network). The production readings are the readings from the production line captured real time through the MES system. Using the configuration of the MES system, this data can be captured at a specified frequency (i.e., every second, every ten minutes, or whatever is required) or when there is a change in the data (i.e., a change of 2 degrees in temperature, or a change in 1 pound per hour feed rate). Once again, this data is stored in the database system and is available electronically through the network 60.

During a production line check, which occurs when a QA lab test occurs, the operator enters appropriate information into the computerized system. This causes a "snap shot" of the production process to be captured. The production readings are the sensor readings for production: temperatures, pressure,. motor speeds, motor amps, humidity, feeder rates, feeder selection, production rates, etc. The QA lab test data are the results of the required product tests: rheology measurement, appearances, compositional analysis, strength tests, color, etc. This information is captured with the additional capability to record operator comments. The QA lab test data is stored electronically in LIMS 52 and can be updated at any time. Thus, the operators can add comments following the QA lab test entry whenever they want or are required to (for example, 10 minutes later or even 10 days later). The date/time stamp of the production data report will include all updates to the database system up to that date/time.

The data captured by the LIMS is displayed using SQC graphs to indicate quality of the product and/or process. The data will be captured each time a QA lab test occurs, also known as a production line check.

MES computer system 30 includes a variety of features. Data exchange between database server 40 and the different databases, such as LIMS 52, can occur due to the use of MES integration system 50. This acts as an interface between database server 40 and LIMS 52, OIS 54, ECP database 58, PLC with production real-time data or distributed control system (DCS) 56 and other additional production data, such as scheduling via database 59. Data exchange also occurs due to the use of a compliant language such as Visual Basic (VB) from Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Washington. For example, the line schedule can be determined via VB application programming interface (API) to the RDBMS and other databases. If necessary, functionality modules can be used to group the production data by batches or lots. The line schedule also can be determined via various methods, such as manually, via office information system (OIS) 54 or via a Numetrix Schedule-X program interfaced with the RDBMS 70.

A programmable logic controller interface (PLC) 56, for example GE 90-70, allows for the snap shot of the process to be retrieved at a particular sample time. The

PLC program allows production parameters to be set and controlled. As such, this system has the electronic capability to capture the production parameters and send it to a database system with the appropriate date/time stamps.

In the preferred embodiment, the MES system 30 includes an electronic control plan (ECP) interface 58. Currently an electronic system is used to manually control the setpoints of the production facility (lines). The MES interface will now have the capability to connect to this electronic control database system to allow for automatic download of the setpoints, in an effort to eliminate human error. This same data could be downloaded onto the electronic run sheets.

The VB API program also allows the operator to retrieve the production run data in the snap shot format by entering the line number, product number or date in the appropriate windows of screen 80. The line number and product number are pulldown menus that the operators can select. The date is a manual entry block. Each of these allows the operator to search the database system for historical batches (or lots). Because there are several thousand lots made each year, this makes it easier for data retrieval.

The data from a particular line check can be maintained for at least three years due to VB API access and a 40-gigabyte RAID -5-disk array. The particular storage amount is dependent upon the storage capacity, whereas the required length of storage is dependent upon policy dictating document retention.

Feeder rate settings of the extruder can be displayed from OIS due to VB API and the OIS RDBMS interface. Generic production setpoints (such as feeders, temperatures, etc.) can be downloaded from other system databases, such as OIS. This could be sent to the PLC system or to the electronic run sheet system via the MES interfaces.

RDBMS 70 also allows for the operator to manually enter operator commands for each line check. This is also accomplishable by the VP API access to RDBMS 70 and other databases. The VB API is a visual basic program which allows for an additional field in the database system, which can store the operator comments. There is a control function, or button on the electronic run sheet screen 80 which will allow the operator to enter and to display comments for each line check of for the entire production run. The VB API program will prompt the operator to enter his/her data and will then send it to the appropriate database system. The VB API program also allows the operator to print a hard copy of the electronic production run sheet and to print a pre-configured report for the production run. This will retrieve the appropriate batch (or lot) production and QA lab test data for printout on the pre-configured report format, similar to the one displayed in Fig. 1.

As discussed above, a statistical quality control graph (SQC) can chart the melt flow index or melt viscosity due to RDBMS 70, and other databases. The data for the SQC charts would come from the various databases, depending upon which property was chosen for graphing. The actual charting of the SQC graph will either be done using existing statistical graphing packages or through programming using generic (well-known) equations.

The system can include production alarms to indicate that a feeder has stopped or a product property is no longer within specification. These alarms are available in the electronic run sheet system which allow operators the required information in real-time to make corrections. The database system contains the appropriate tolerances for the parameters and other software, such as TelAlert. It also contains the appropriate alarming system program, such as lights/ horns / etc. The electronic run sheets contain a graphical alarm and a text display indicating what the alarm is for.

Fast system response times are accomplished by using computers 44 which are at least 500 MHz, dual processors having 512 MB of RAM. Moreover, storing data such that no complicated joins are required, cache data and managing process priorities, and configuring database server 40 as a real time database with a built in graphical user interface (GUI) link handler will decrease response times.

Database server 40 acts as a universal user interface due to RDMS 70, GE 90- 70 PLC interface, ECP RDBMS, VB API access. Furthermore utilizing standard technology and tool sets such as AB, structured query languages (SQL), object linking and embedding (OLE) for process control, open database connectors (ODBC) and ActiveX controls also allow for universal user interface. Referring to Fig. 3, the LIMS will be described in relation to the screen capture shown. The electronic production run sheet shown in Fig. 3 involves an automatic system for capturing the Lot Number, Product Identifiers, machine set points, production readings and the QA lab test data. The production readings and the QA lab test data are available electronically through the MES and LIMS computer systems

An electronic production run sheet 80 of the preferred embodiment is shown in Fig. 3. During a production line check an operator can enter information such as the line number in window 82 or the lot number in window 84 and pull up the data on the particular production line by pressing fetch lot button 85. Buttons 86 numbered

PL1-PL20 refer to a particular production line. In Fig. 3, production line PL8 is shown.

Lot information such as the grade and color appear in windows 86 and 88. Window 85 is the Product Identification Code (PID), which identifies special product requirements for a customer. Shown in Test Id column 90 are a plurality of different tests identified by, for example, Testl- Test 12. Each product made in the crystalline finishing process has different tests and test codes, and the system of the preferred embodiment has a test ID relating to a particular test preformed. For example, a specific gravity test could have a test ID of SP GRAV, which would appear in column 90.

For each data reading a lower spec and an upper spec are displayed in tabular form at 92 and 94. In order to determine which individual performed which test, the testers initials can be added in column 96. The line check data is shown in columns 100 through 106, etc., in Fig. 3, with the final run 100 appearing first from left to right. It should be appreciated that there is no time limit or a limit to the amount of line checks that can be performed.

A window 110 for operator comments appears at the bottom of the screen. When complete the operator can print a final report. The SQC graph can also be displayed on the electronic run sheet. The format or display of the data in the SQC graph is determined by the configuration parameters, such as the frequency of reports, whether actual data points or average data points are used, etc.

While the foregoing description includes many details and specificities, it is to be understood that these have been included for purposes of explanation only, and are not to be inteφreted as limitations of the present invention. Many modifications to the embodiments described above can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as is intended to be encompassed by the following claims and their legal equivalents.

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Classifications
Classification internationaleG05B19/418
Classification coopérativeG05B2219/32196, Y02P90/18, G05B19/41875, G05B2219/31485, G05B2219/31288, Y02P90/22
Classification européenneG05B19/418Q
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