Channel Innovator: Data Collection Winner
Hunkar Technologies’ Bar
Code and Data Systems Division earns more revenue from existing clients
with a custom application that helps manufacturers improve production
and data collection processes.
One of the key criteria in selecting a Business Solutions channel innovator is ascertaining whether the nominated company tried to expand its traditional solution by adding complementary technologies. But a complementary technology doesn’t always have to come from a new vendor. On the contrary, the best source of a complementary technology is you, the VAR. Customized bundles, interfaces, or applications are sure to distinguish you from your competitors — and offer the best margins. These types of customized solutions require innovation, which is why Hunkar Technologies is the winner of this year’s Channel Innovator Award for data collection.
Hunkar Technologies’ Bar Code and Data Systems Division specializes in systems for manufacturing and distribution clients. The company creates data collection solutions for manufacturing, process control and monitoring, custom material handling, sensoring, and point of production label printing. Printer label applicators, bar code printers/scanners, and RFID (radio frequency identification) equipment are commonly part of Hunkar’s solutions.
Directly Connect To Factory Floor Equipment
To expand its traditional bar code solution, Hunkar designed the Hunkar Production Server (HPS). The HPS is a software application developed with Intermec’s Fingerprint printer command protocol language, as a key component. Fingerprint is available in certain Intermec printers such as the EasyCoder PM4i. These printers are key to Hunkar’s solution since they can come equipped with enough processing power and I/O (input/output) capability to replace PCs on the factory floor. The Intermec printers connect directly to factory floor equipment such as machines, PLCs (programmable logic controllers), sensors, and lights. “The HPS software and a direct connection to factory floor equipment enables the gathering of data such as downtime statistics, machine cycles, reject counts, and scale or sensor inputs,” explains Mike Barker, VP/general manager of Hunkar’s Bar Code and Data Systems Division. “In the office, HPS provides clients with visibility into WIP [work in process], inventory transactions, and machine data [e.g. scrap amounts]. Of course, since it resides on an Intermec smart bar code printer, the system also prints carton and/or pallet labels with unique IDs at the point of manufacture.” All of the data gathered by the HPS is sent to a central database via a LAN or WLAN (wireless local area network) connection. A supervisor console interface on the network lists all of the machines in the factory, their status, which jobs are running, how many units are required, how many units have been produced, downtime on the job, and estimates of when the jobs will be complete based on standard run rates. Once the LAN/server is available again, all of the data is automatically processed from the smart printers (via the printer’s internal FTP [file transfer protocol] server) to the client’s back end database.
The HPS solution also includes Intermec bar code scanners connected to the smart printers for job, raw material, downtime reason, and operator ID validation. “Combining that validation data with date/time stamping and label printing at the point of manufacture virtually eliminates mislabeled product and provides lot control to the carton level,” says Barker.
HPS can be used with bar code or RFID data and can be expanded to include automatic messaging via e-mail, cell phone, VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol), or pagers. The latter functionality is useful for receiving messages about preemptive maintenance, breakdowns, or machine supply requirements. Barker says Hunkar first developed the HPS in 2003 and released the latest version in March of 2005. So far, the company has four clients using the HPS in six plants. Barker says the biggest impact of the HPS for these clients can be seen in improved throughput on manufacturing/assembly lines, increased visibility to shop floor operations, and elimination of batch label production and subsequent mislabeling.