Project Feasibility to display Work in progress and Priority

Hi Everyone, I am new to this forum and the Arduino community and I wanted to start a project for my small business and I wanted to propose my idea to see if this kind of undertaking is even possible using Arduinos. I apologize if this is not the right place to post this.

Before I begin, I have some programming experience with visual basic and C++ and basic knowledge of electronics. I am not an engineer in any sense of the word so I apologize if I’m not able to pick up certain terms or comprehend quickly.

My business is very small, I never went to school for business and I started this company as a means to pursue my passion. I currently employ around 20 people, I just recently won contract from a large company who is very demanding and I am having a lot problems with the constant changes and demands. They are my only customer and I have to keep up with their demands so my business can stay afloat so I am trying new things and doing anything I can to keep my business alive.
To make production more efficient, I divided my assembly line into three small assembly lines labeled 1, 2, and 3 to reduce confusion and mixups.

I decided to “Kit” each job in assembly line to make sure we don’t mix up the different parts and quantities each job. The kit is simply a colored plastic box where they keep the parts. Currently I have 20 different kits for each line.

I am having a lot difficulty tracking and starting the correct job so I made a Rack that will hold a maximum of 5 boxes at a time back-to-back. So in total I have 60 racks (20 racks for each line) that holds 5 boxes (back to back).

When kit is finished, the boxes slides on sloping rails so as each box is inserted into the rack slides down to the first position to the delivery truck to take to my customer for final assembly.

I wanted to setup a system using Arduinos, to detect when the rack is Empty, at Minimum level (1 box left in the rack) and Full For each line. I wanted to use switches that are screwed on the rails and are triggered by the box as the box slides down and sits on the switch. I also wanted to know if it was possible for a display monitor on each line to see the quantity levels so they know what kit needs to be made next, when to start a specific job based on the quantities on the rack.

Is this project feasible with Arduinos?

All that is possible with an Arduino :slight_smile:

What GUI would be suitable for something like this?

Also what kind of switch or sensor is suited to detect the boxes on the rack?

How many arduinos would I need? From my math, 1 per rack with boxes I would need 60 arduinos with 5 switches or sensors coming from this each arduino.

its possible with arduinos i understand but is it a good idea from my initial research using arduinos would be a wiring/programming/and logistical nightmare with the number of boxes and racks that I'm currently require.

Lots of ways to get there. Can do the whole thing with 1 Arduino, and simple 74HC165 shift registers to capture the inputs.
I'll post a pic in a second.

Each shift register gets a Latch and Clock signal from the Arduino. Latch captures the state of the input pins (high = no switch contact, low = switch closed).
The Clock signal moves the data out along the serial data line.
Can use shiftIn() command, each call brings in 8 bits from a shift register.
Say you had 8 shift registers:

for (x=0, x<8; x=x+1){
shiftIn (dataPin, clockPin, MSBFRST, dataArray[x]);

Data for 8 shift registers, 64 switches, is now in dataArray[0] to dataArray[7] for you to process/display/whatever.
More inputs? Daisychain in more shift registers.
With shiftIn, can have multiple independent sets, up to 6 with an Uno if you wanted to.

If you don't like mechanical switches, then perhaps optical sensing, such as beam breaks, or LED reflectors.

Please specify what the Arduino(s) should do, and what you expect from the GUI.

For a command centre a PC is already equipped with a screen and GUI. Eventually you'll write a PC program with a database for the ongoing work, and connect it to the controller(s) watching the rack contents?

Watching the fill state of the lines can be accomplished with mechanical switches or light barriers. With a port extender on every line, a single Arduino will be sufficient to track the fill states, with all extenders connected to a single bus line, to reduce the cable count. Using a controller for each end point is kind of overkill, because then you also need a bus system to connect all these controllers to your command centre server.

Maybe a level switch
Maybe an optical sensor
Maybe magnetic?