Sensors Mag

Keeping Track of Motors

April 1, 2006 By: Melanie Martella, Sensors Sensors

When you build 14,000 small engines a day, keeping track of them for QC purposes is pretty important. You want to spot problems before the final engine assembly stage and identify any missteps that occur during manufacture. Billy DePew, a manufacturing engineering technician at Briggs & Stratton Small Engine Facility in Poplar Bluff, MO, wanted to improve traceability of the plant's completed Quantum 4-cycle engines. In short, he wanted to be able to trace a nonconforming engine back to the pallet it was produced on, when it was produced, and on which shift, just in case other engines in the batch needed to be checked, too.

 THE CHALLENGE Identify and trace problems before final engine assembly
THE CHALLENGE Identify and trace problems before final engine assembly

He chose a BISC-60R-001-08P passive inductive ID system from Balluff that uses data carriers (encapsulated EEPROMS) attached to pallets and self-contained read heads placed along the machining stations. Small engine blocks are placed on each pallet and carried, via conveyor, to various stations for machining. At the third machining station, a data reader automatically reads the pallet number from the data carrier and this, with date, time, and crew/shift number, is translated to a code which is then pin stamped onto the engine block.

The result? The ability to trace problems back to their source, reduce scrap, and improve quality.

Contact Tom Draper, Balluff Inc., Florence, KY; 800-543-8390,,

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