What is zero defect manufacturing?

Making products with zero defects

Zero defect manufacturing is almost exactly what it sounds like – ensuring manufacturing processes are performed with no defects or errors. This has a few obvious advantages: costs are reduced, less material is wasted and the time to manufacture a finished product is reduced. This all leads to greater production efficiency. However, while the definition and goals of zero defect manufacturing are quite straightforward, achieving those goals can be a challenge.

The most direct route to achieving the goal of zero defect manufacturing is by increasing accuracy. This reduces the uncertainty in the manufacturing process to the point that there is no room for a defect to occur. Unfortunately, this route is nearly impossible to achieve in practice. There are so many different aspects of a production line that variability is bound to occur. Machines aren’t 100% accurate, incoming material can vary, and even things like the weather can affect the machining conditions. These variations may be small, but when manufacturing very delicate parts with precise specifications much smaller than a millimetre, they can be significant impactors to overall part quality. As a result, slight variations in part production is an unavoidable aspect of manufacturing.

Instead, the more achievable route to zero defect manufacturing is not to try to eliminate these variations, but to understand and account for them as part of the manufacturing process. By developing a robust compensation strategy, it can be possible to tailor a later manufacturing process to account for each particular part’s variation. If the causes of potential defects are detected early enough, such as temperature changes in the manufacturing environment, it can also be possible to adjust the manufacturing process to prevent any defects from being produced in the first place.

To enable the compensation required for zero defect manufacturing, high quality measurements of the manufacturing process are needed in order to detect any causes of part defects. This involves measurement of the machining process, the part and even the environmental conditions. These measurements then need to be analysed to identify the appropriate compensation methods. This requires a complete part tracking infrastructure within the factory, capable of seeing each unique part through from start to finish, accruing measurement and manufacturing data along the way.

The Dat4.Zero project aims to approach the challenge of zero defect manufacturing by utilising Industry 4.0 and the data that is currently generated in manufacturing production lines. By combining all sources of manufacturing data into one location, all information can be accessed with ease, enabling much greater levels of analysis. This will enable much more complete predictions to be made that can enable better compensation methods for defect reduction. In addition, the Dat4.Zero project will involve the development of smart sensors and measurement solutions. These measurements will be capable of obtaining real-time information about manufacturing processes that can be used to make adjustments to the process settings and prevent part defects from occurring.