Fixture fault diagnosis is a critical component of currently evolving techniques aimed at manufacturing variation reduction. The impact of sensor location on the effectiveness of fault-type discrimination in such diagnostic procedures is significant. This paper proposes a methodology for achieving optimal fault-type discrimination through an optimized configuration of defined “sensor locales.” The optimization is presented in the context of autobody fixturing—a predominant cause of process variability in automobile assembly. The evaluation criterion for optimization is an improvement in the ability to provide consistency of best match, in a pattern recognition sense, of any fixture error to a classified, anticipated error set. The proposed analytical methodology is novel in addressing optimization by incorporating fixture design specifications in sensor locale planning—constituting a Design for Fault Detectability approach. Examples of the locale planning for a single fixture sensor layout and an application to an industrial fixture configuration are presented to illustrate the proposed methodology.

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