General Motors is turning to RFID to improve the quality of the engines it produces for the 2014 Corvette Stingray and the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado.
GM has long used RFID on engine assembly systems for process tracking. Its Gen 5 Small Block program is among the first to also use RFID-enabled track-and-trace data bolts as a quality control measure during the machining of engine blocks and cylinder heads.
The new RFID-enabled data bolt solution has been rolled out at GM’s manufacturing facility in Tonawanda, N.Y., as part of a recent $400 million facility upgrade.
Data bolts are installed on each engine block and engine head at the start of the manufacturing cycle to ensure that no processes are missed. At the end of machining, the data bolt travels with the part to the assembly line where the block and head are assembled into an engine. The information collected by the RFID tags inside the data bolts identify in real time the exact time and place a block or head goes through each process. Each data bolt can record 2 kilobytes of data, enough to collect the entire part’s manufacturing history.
The data bolts are scanned at the end of the machining line to confirm successful completion of all processes. Data bolts also document that each engine block is leak-free when tested. If a flaw is discovered on a block or head, its data bolt enables identification of the blocks and heads made before and after the part for further inspection.
This allows line operators to determine if the issue was an anomaly or a larger problem and ensures that no defective parts leave the plant. At end of the assembly line the data bolt is removed and reused.