John Deere Ensures Reliability

The John Deere plant in Waterloo, Iowa, manufactures cabs for the 7000, 8000, 9000, and Sprayer model tractors. These large tractors have up to 425-hp engines, a 111-in. wheelbase, and 24-speed transmissions. Sophisticated controls in the operator cab provide simple and reliable operation. Originally, conveyor systems at John Deere simply moved the CommandView operator cabs within the p...

12/15/2001


The John Deere plant in Waterloo, Iowa, manufactures cabs for the 7000, 8000, 9000, and Sprayer model tractors. These large tractors have up to 425-hp engines, a 111-in. wheelbase, and 24-speed transmissions. Sophisticated controls in the operator cab provide simple and reliable operation.

Originally, conveyor systems at John Deere simply moved the CommandView operator cabs within the plant to the mounting location for assembly onto the tractor bodies. Now a host of value-added services is performed thanks to test-stand equipment integrated on the line by Titan Inc. (Sturevant, Wis.), an authorized Phoenix Contact (Harrisburg, Pa.) system integrator. This saved floor space, which is always an expensive commodity in a manufacturing plant. The in-line cab testers also allowed John Deere to increase throughput, as well as maximize existing floor space.

CommandView cabs incorporate engine and transmission control, environmental control, system monitoring and operator diagnostics, and GPS receivers. Before John Deere installed the Titan cab testers, the cabs were produced and installed onto the tractor body during final assembly. If a transmission problem was detected, the cab had to be removed from the body, fixed, and reinstalled to see if the error was corrected. This was a time-consuming operation that limited upstream cab production.

Titan electrical testers ensure the quality of the John Deere cabs, and eliminate passing of any defects to downstream process partners and customers. Titan's cab testers were incorporated on the conveyor line to test cabs before mounting onto the tractor body. This arrangement is faster because problems are fixed before assembly, not after.

The test begins with scanning the bar code identifying the cab serial number. The tester matches the serial number to an electronic production build sheet that identifies the cab's configuration. The computer then reviews more than 600 option codes, and builds appropriate tests for each cab. The tester checks voltage, current, CCD messages, and also includes a series of yes/no questions the operator must answer for functions in which the tester cannot "see" the output. The tester allows the programmer to set upper and lower limits for all voltage, current, and CCD messages.

If results from a test sequence fall within specified limits, the next check immediately begins. If results are outside the limits, an error message is displayed and the test is halted. The operator then uses a remote control to display troubleshooting tables that highlight most likely remedies. The remedy list is updated as new data are gathered about troubleshooting defects. Potential problems are quickly located and solved. The Titan testing system allows John Deere to log all errors, test cycle times, and view detailed test results. Reports can be generated as historical information as needed.

The Titan tester includes a control cabinet that measures approximately 2x21/2 x61/2 ft. Careful component selection is responsible for the cabinet's its small dimensions. Many electronic components inside the cabinet were supplied by Phoenix Contact, a manufacturer of terminal blocks, power supplies, relays, and connectors designed to reduce panel size and conserve DIN-rail space in the cabinet. Fitting all the controls into one cabinet reduced installed cost and floor space.

Since the testers were installed, the Waterloo facility has had very few electrical defects. In the first four months of operation, Titan's testers reduced tractor final line electrical repairs by more than 50%. John Deere currently operates two in-line testers, and uses a third tester to debug new programs. While production demand varies throughout the year, these units test 40-60 cabs per day.

For information on Titan Inc., www.titansystems.com ; Phoenix Contact, www.phoenixcon.com or visit www.controleng.com/ freeinfo Comments? E-mail djohnson@cahners.com

To find integrators, go to www.controleng.com/integrators





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