Screwdriving automation influenced Nokia’s product development
This article is part of a three-part description of Nokia’s experience with screwdriving automation solutions provided by Pneumacon. Read about the assembly of screwdriwing technology here and about the most important benefits of automation here.
In the previous part of our three-article series, we explained how Pneumacon supplied screwdriving automation solutions for the new automatic assembly line at Nokia’s Rusko factory. In this part, Ville Rauman, who is responsible for the maintenance and development of the automatic production line in Rusko, shares how automation has affected Nokia’s production processes.
If you are currently pondering whether automation could be something that your company could benefit from, this article is a must-read for you.
“Our designers design products with the end customers in mind. After they have done their part, a key factor of product development is determining how we should manufacture the product,” Rauman says.
“Nokia uses the Rusko automated assembly line to ensure that all products can be assembled in a standardized manner by either us or our subcontractors. Mechanical handling of parts, automatically feeding new pieces into the line, screwdriving directions, and other details that affect production must all be thoroughly recorded and double-checked. The proof of concept (POC) is only good enough when you can be completely sure that you have got every little thing exactly right.”
“Automatic assembly line was something we were not previously familiar with. The material input was the first thing that had to be harmonized.”
Wide-ranging effects of automated assembly
“As I said earlier, an automatic assembly line was something we were not previously familiar with. All of our products used to be assembled on manual production lines. Goods were transported to the line in boxes or on trays or by other means, depending on their type. This [material feeding] was the first thing we needed to standardize.”
“The way the goods are fed into the assembly line not only affects the process when we initially receive them in our warehouse, but it also impacts the way our suppliers work with us. At first, it did take a bit of time to find and harmonize the way the goods were transported to the assembly lines. If the material has to be processed manually first, this can very quickly cancel out any benefits you get from automation.”
Testing that works for both manual and automatic assembly
Another thing the company needed to change was their testing process. It needed to be amended to fit the needs of both the old, manual assembly line and the new, automated production line.
“Our assembly line also includes test cells that are used to test products and circuit boards. Converting the test fixes to conform to the new automation was a whole project of its own. After all, the cells had to be fit to test both manually and automatically assembled products,” Rauman explains.
Training and troubleshooting
“In the early stages, we provided all of our staff with extensive training on the new process,” Rauman says. “Once our operators started using the solution in practice, there were, of course, some problems and things we needed to change. In a project of this magnitude, you can never avoid problems completely.”
“Our technology partners have been a great help in situations where our operators have not been able to solve the problems on their own. Of course, it has been challenging, as we have had to keep the production running and solve problems at the same time, but so far, we have always been able to find a solution.”
“I was especially impressed by how well Schmidt and Pneumacon dealt with the situation when we had a problem with our Schmidt press. They provided us with a replacement while the original press was sent to a Schmidt factory for repairs. Everything went so smoothly that I did not dare to even get upset,” Rauman says with a laugh.
A fully automated process with products to match
Nokia’s experiences highlight several matters that need to be taken into account when planning an automated process. Perhaps the most important of them is that in order to gain all the benefits automation has to offer, the process and its bottlenecks must be thoroughly specified prior to the actual design work. Optimizing even one phase can create additional cost savings, but only by adjusting the whole process to utilize automation can you make the most of the new solution.
This article is one of the three parts in our series on Nokia’s experiences with process automation. You can find the other two parts here:
› Nokia tests the production capabilities of an automatic assembly line
› Key benefits of automation at Nokia’s Rusko factory