Case Studies: SPC Automates Quality Control
Headquartered in Waterloo, WI, Trek Bicycle Corp. is a well-known name in bicycle design and manufacture. From the original hand-built steel touring frames introduced in 1976, to the optimum compaction, low void (OCLV) carbon fiber first introduced in 1992, Trek has a passion for innovation, quality and performance. With a record seven consecutive Tour de France titles, six straight 24-hour World Solo Mountain Bike Championships and countless other professional wins, Trek enjoys a rich tradition in the world’s premier cycling events.
Trek needed a way to quickly and reliably monitor weights in the OCLV carbon molding area. There was no effective system in place to monitor weights, and Trek was looking to automate this function. “Though weight data was already being collected in the carbon molding area, we needed to implement a paperless system to help the operators respond in real-time to out-of-control signals,” says Ben Fisher, product manufacturing engineer at Trek. “Improving Trek’s use of SPC in the OCLV molding area is another way of ensuring our best-in-class status as a bicycle manufacturer.”
In the aluminum machining area, measurements were being recorded with a pencil and paper-there was no electronic repository for storing these records. Calculating control limits and periodically checking the process capability were time consuming and tedious.
Using InfinityQS (Chantilly, VA) software for real-time statistical process control (SPC), Trek was able to automate its quality control procedures. Using bar code readers, Trek now can track weight data and identify any issues in the molding area. In the machining area, basic checks such as machined IDs, offsets and widths are easily monitored.
Using InfinityQS software, barcode readers and direct gage inputs, operators receive the benefits of fast data entry. “Analyzing the data in real-time allows us to separate the special causes from the common cause variation and to have the operators react only when special cause variation is present,” says Fisher. The real-time analysis ensures that the bikes meet Trek’s quality standards and will perform optimally to meet customer expectations for lightweight frames.
Trek is saving time, resources and money by automating the quality assurance process for machining and carbon molding. Trek engineers are now able to track resin flow during the molding process by using a simple calculation within InfinityQS ProFicient. Most importantly, Trek is able to maintain its leadership in the market by continuing to produce high-performance products that meet stringent quality standards.
- InfinityQS International