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TRW Automotive Parts Remanufacturing

Saturn Automobile Corporation

TRW Automotive Parts Remanufacturing

TRW, based in McAllen, Texas, receives from 1,000 to 3,000 used parts, called "cores," for remanufacture and distribution to after-market retailers. The parts arrive in unknown quantities and conditions, and each must be removed from its box and inspected for admission at receiving. Previously, an inspector would call out a core part number to a recording inspector, who manually wrote down the number and condition on a tick sheet for later key-entry into a PC. One record-keeper recorded verbal data from as many as 12 inspectors, with confusion and inaccuracies occasionally resulting.

TRW implemented six speaker-dependent voice terminals which were programmed to ask the inspector for data in a logical flow using synthesized speech. Training required 30 to 60 minute one-time sessions for each operator. The voice-based system enabled increased inspection throughput by 100 percent, and eliminated record-keeping and data entry functions. Payback was anticipated at a year and came in at six months. Voice recognition was so successful, TRW decided to move it into its warehousing operation.

Saturn Automobile Corporation

Famous for its employee-owned quality initiatives, Saturn, located in Spring Hill, Tennessee, implemented radio frequency-based voice recognition at the behest of its operator-technicians (op-techs). Saturn workers chose the system in order to have their eyes and hands free to perform inspection and rework, and at the same time to identify and log paint nonconformities and their sources, flagging them in real time.

As a newly painted Saturn body exits the bake oven and a problem with the paint is found, the inspecting op-tech describes its nature into the headset microphone of a speaker-trained voice recognition unit, and the data is sent via radio modem to the PC where it is logged and acted upon in real time. If the painted panel needs rework, the op-tech's voice command opens a gate in the overhead roller guide to route it to the rework area.

The ability to track and respond to paint nonconformities in real time, while hands and eyes were free to perform work, was a critical factor for the Saturn employees. The wireless voice recognition system has enabled Saturn to maintain both high quality and high productivity, and to decrease the rework turnaround time delay by 80 percent.

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