The Challenge

A worldwide leader in carbon fiber production approached Unidev to build a mobile app that enables shop floor operators to scan each spool of carbon fiber before adding it to the production line. This ensures that the fiber is within the correct specifications for the product being made and will help prevent production errors and eliminate waste.

Manufactured carbon fiber varies and each tow (a spool of carbon fiber) has slightly different characteristics. The purpose of this app is to provide a way of checking the tow before it is loaded into the production line. To do this, the bar code on the tow needs to be scanned and checked against information from the factory. This gives operators the ability to scan a tow and get instant easy to read feedback. Additionally, the app needs to collect information about usage and notify managers of real-time changes.

The Solution

Unidev partnered with their internal IT department during the mobile app creation process. We developed the mobile app and procured Android mobile devices with integrated bar code scanners from Zebra Technologies. These devices are used on the shop floor by operators and also used in the warehouse to check in shipments of tows from the manufacturing plants. The bar codes on the warehouse shipping containers enable the solution to preload the tow information from the international locations to make the app more responsive and protected from international internet connectivity issues.

This mobile app also includes an internal website that collects the scanning information and creates the specifications for different types of planks to be manufactured for different reasons. You could think of these as “recipes” for the manufactured material.

Technologies and platforms used include:

  • Android
  • NativeScript
  • .NET C#
  • Zebra TC21 Handheld Scanners
  • Razor
  • Entity Framework
  • SQL Server

The Result

This project is a good example of the range and depth of experience Unidev brings to clients. Many shop floor automation solutions are closed and linked to specific hardware but this manufacturer needed an open solution that worked with their data (different in each country), their bar code standards (many different layouts of the codes), and provide an administration portal that met their specific need. Many mobile app development companies could provide one of these solutions, few could provide all of these solutions at once.


Biggest Win

The use of the scanners decreased instances of incorrect tows being used and in turn reduced the amount of produced materials being discarded because they were out of specification. This provided a financial gain for the company.

The implementation of a multi-tiered data environment allowed us to create a system that communicated with international databases over unreliable connections and still maintained rapid response for the operator.

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