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InstantHMI - Clipboard Replacement


Manufacturing still depends on manual data collection involving a 'Clipboard'. The dictionary defines clipboard as a writing board with a spring clip at the top for holding papers or a writing pad. We also know that it is an area of memory in Windows used for copying text and graphics. PDA based InstantHMI is easily adapted as a tool for clipboard replacement. Clipboard may be the only approach available to do things that are unplanned. This is because Man is the most flexible and adaptable element in an enterprise and with a clipboard in hand he can accomplish anything! What can be done to improve manual tasks? Can we use available technology to improve on 'Operator rounds' to collect data in a methodical manner? Yes, we can conceive of a clipboard replacement using a PDA or a tablet that provides for customizable forms for manual data entry (including numeric or alphanumeric data, checklist of items, pull-down list of choices etc.). The PDA HMI can integrate Barcode and RFID information read by the PDA to improve operations. Equipment can be immediately and absolutely identified to check calibration information, repair parts, and other vital information without unnecessary data entry.

A wireless PDA with an RFID reader can be used to pull-up a data entry screen appropriate to the machine where the operator is standing and record/log the operator actions and comments. Sparing the operator from the chore of recording when the data was recorded (time stamp), where it was recorded (GPS location) and what the data source is (RFID or barcode) can make the task more productive and the information more reliable. Clipboard replacement technology is not glamorous but effective while one continues to seek better solutions to bigger problems.




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