Inspecting the Invisible
With over 37 million customers, Direct TV is one of the largest digital entertainment companies delivering premium entertainment. They offer over 190 full-time HD channels, access to exclusive channels, and the most comprehensive collection of sports programming available including NFL Sunday Ticket, NHL Center Ice and NBA League Pass.
Enhancing product quality
Direct TV faces tough competition as they continue to grow their business and gain new subscribers to their satellite television service. One way Direct TV keeps their customers satisfied is by providing the best signal possible through quality satellite dishes. With over 190 full-time HD programs, signal strength is critical to stream those programs. Direct TV strives for their dishes to send and receive the best signal possible by implementing their own surface-quality check with the help of 3D Infotech. They investigated the quality of their dishes to further understand optics and focal points. Through 3D Infotech’s custom solution, they discovered that poor packaging could damage the reflectors, thus diminishing the transmitting and receiving signal strength. Direct TV was also able to evaluate the quality of their stamping tools by quantifying its dish output amount.
The senior engineer at Direct TV, Terrence Wu knew that bumps and other undesirable defects were present on some of their dishes. The only problem was translating these bumps into optics. Wu wanted to see how this affected the dish’s focal point. Wu consulted with 3D Infotech and described the limitations with his current software. “We want accuracy when measuring these reflectors.” Wu and his team needed 3D Infotech’s expertise in writing a custom macro that would allow their existing software, Polyworks, to measure the average focal point of the reflectors to the nominal value they desired.
“When we designed this system, we went through an evaluation phase where we looked at a variety of 3D Imagers, as well as robotic arms before we proposed the final package, which in terms of hardware, incorporated the FARO Cobalt solution with the Universal Robot.”
Supporting the solution
Previously, Wu would use their FARO arm laser scanner and see exactly where the dish was deviating from their CAD model. That method only revealed to him and his team the out-of-tolerance areas of the reflector. It was displaying only manufacturing errors, not optical data. With 3D Infotech’s custom technology, Wu’s team was able to analyze the eects of these deviations acting on the reflector’s optics and the reflector’s signal output distortion. The solution automatically generates an Excel report with all of the dish’s points and allows the user to identify the points beyond the nominal focal point values. Depending on the tolerance Wu can get a visualization of how the “bumps” project the rays and how far from the nominal focal point it is. As with every new technology implementation, complications arise as Wu and his team had no idea how to operate the custom macro. “It was a new software, I had no idea what certain buttons did and you guys were very supportive with our questions. You (3D Infotech) pushed out over 12 iterations of the software with updates every week and were very responsive to questions and making things easier for us. We could have moved onto other options but the reason for the success of the program was because of your responsiveness.”
“Because of you guys, we now have a stable process and can buy the most cost-effective parts.”
“Aside from helping us make a higher quality product, the support is the biggest benefit we have received from working with 3D Infotech"
Time saved is money saved
“We have definitely seen an ROI in terms of quality of the dish and saving man hours which saves the company money.” Wu states. “There is a verification process that the technician must follow installation, with a better quality reflector the installation is faster. The technicians are also experiencing fewer home recalls, therefore his time saved is money saved for the company.”
On the topic of saving Direct TV money, 3D Infotech’s solution helped Direct TV produce fewer damaged parts, which further saves Direct TV’s money. “We buy millions of reflectors every year and because your solution helped us figure out a key problem, we do not have to buy additional truckloads of reflectors to account for unsalvageable ones.” When asked about the biggest benefit from working with 3D Infotech was Wu simply stated::