Identification marks on component parts are more important than ever before, especially in today’s integrated production lines. Manufacturers must be able to verify that a product is actually theirs (and not a counterfeit or gray market item), and if issues arise, to trace it through various design and production processes by its unique mark. As important as identification marks are, old methods for applying these marks are often slow, inefficient, of inadequate quality and costly. But now, manufacturers across the country are discovering a fast, high quality and efficient solution: laser marking. Lasers can be integrated much more easily into the production process, save time and money, produce clear and permanent marks, and are simple to maintain for peak, dependable performance, part after part, year after year.
Jiffy-tite is a company that has discovered the many advantages of using lasers for its identification marking. Headquartered in Lancaster, N.Y. , Jiffy-tite is recognized worldwide for its innovative quick connect fittings, which are used in the automobile and transportation industries for mating transmission and engine oil cooling lines to radiators. Though it is a relatively small company employing 138 people, Jiffy-tite manufactures more than 45 million parts per year.
Jiffy-tite initially used roll stamps through ink jets to mark its products, but this system proved to be expensive, inefficient, and uneven. Ink jets and its consumables are temperamental and very costly to maintain. Another drawback is ensuring consistent quality of each roll stamp. The company also used dot peening, but the cycle time was significantly slower than that of the assembly machines. Additionally, dot peening deformed metal parts and caused premature rust.
Jiffy-tite decided it needed a concrete tracking system to be put in place. MECCO offered a welcome solution for increasing accountability in the future: a laser system for direct part marking.
The first laser system installed at Jiffy-tite was a SMARTmark® 20 watt Fiber pulse laser, which meets all AIAG requirements and creates a small, non-evasive mark. The mark consists of a time and date stamp along with the Jiffy-tite logo, which works to combat counterfeit part distribution in the automotive parts market.
This machine was integrated into a proprietary cam-driven rotary dial with a per part laser mark time of only .8 seconds. The speed of the laser mark was more than adequate and produced a much better mark than any other marking system the company had reviewed.
Aside from significant improvements in clarity and quality, the return on investment from this technology comes in the form of savings in cash, man-hours, and sorting costs.
When there is an issue in the field, it had been difficult to nail down lots and component information once the fittings are separated from the shipping boxes. Now, Jiffy-tite simply asks for the etched information (date and time). This allows the company to:
For Jiffy-tite, using lasers for identification marking has resulted in better quality control and defect containment. A fitting receives the Jiffy-tite mark only after it has been lightly oiled, assembled with an O-ring and clip, leak-tested, inspected with a machine vision system and quality-checked for proper assembly and fit. The laser mark represents that the fitting has been subjected to all of the testing and inspections in the automated process and passed.
Using the last five years’ historical data, Jiffy-tite calculates that savings gained from reduced sort costs, man-hours searching for records and sending personnel into the field to investigate issues will be a payback of less than two years per unit.
Jiffy-tite is an example of a small company that is continuously improving its manufacturing capabilities with cutting-edge technology which not only brings value savings, but also ensures a higher quality part and better relationship with customers.