MES Applications Reveal Increased Power


Delta Motors Sees Success with FactorySuite

Solution Overview
The team developing a Manufacturing Execution System at Delta Motor Corp.'s Corsa manufacturing plant (Struandale, Port Elizabeth, South Africa) chose InTrack from Wonderware (Irvine, Calif.). The team was composed of members from Delta Motors and their integrator, ISIS. Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) is first implementation of InTrack manufacturing execution system in the country.

The overall goal of the project was to increase productivity and reduce costs by implementing planning and line optimization on the factory floor.

System requirements included:

  • Supply accurate and timely information to all relevant areas of the company's business;

  • Bring about common practices in all plants;

  • Provide real time integrated information with as little human intervention and paperwork as possible;

  • Provide a scaleable system as a foundation for future changes; and

  • Be based upon a commercially available package(s) to reduce development time and costs

InTrack from Wonderware was chosen for the factory floor and MES portion while SAP's (Waldorf, Germany) R/2 enterprise resource planning software was chosen for the business system.

System Overview
Dealer orders for Corsa vehicles input to the Vehicle Distribution System (VDS) on a central mainframe computer with R/2 software located at headquarters about 6 km from the factory. Production planning is a multi-level system from 12-month forecasts to 4-day schedules on the SAP system. Production orders are sent to the InTrack VTS daily. Because VTS is mission critical the link is both direct wire and, if required, manual transportation of electronic media. A production line balancing algorithm is used by VTS to optimize scheduling.

An InTrack Production Planning Interface permits planners to analyze production orders. They can scroll through orders, including those not yet been scheduled by the balancing algorithm. If circumstances warrant, the orders can be re-sequenced manually. Planners can place production orders on hold, for whatever reason (usually a material shortage) and release them at any time. While the process is effectively discrete manufacturing of a vehicle every 3 minutes, production documentation is compiled into half-hour batches of 10 vehicles each. Every half-hour, the planner releases a batch of 10 production orders. InTrack automatically prints build documents, broadcast documents, and the bar-code labels. Broadcast documents assure various areas in the body shop start orders in the correct sequence.

InTrack VTS tracks critical components used on each vehicle. In the future, additional resources used in the manufacture of vehicles will be tracked as well. This information is fed to VDS at headquarters to supply business requirements, e.g. consumption of material, production information for dealer tracking, and MRP functions. Production reporting and analysis is conducted directly on the InTrack system.

Barcode for Tracking
Each vehicle has a unique identification number that is printed on a barcode label attached to the body. The label is scanned at each of nine strategic monitor points throughout the plant. Automatic fixed scanners are used where possible supplemented by manual stations. InTrack compares scanned data with the production schedule. Problems such as vehicle in the wrong place or taking too much time in a station are immediately noted. Alarms are sent to the computer network to notify management and displayed at the local operator interface. Local operator interface permits operator input to initiate corrective action.

Business System Information
The monitor points are called consumption points in the SAP R/2 system. Information required for the National Traffic Information System (NATIS) including serial number, special part data, trim sequence number, and system date and time is gathered by InTrack at each monitor point and transmitted to the R/2 system. The business system updates inventory and tracks vehicle production status.

Higher Productivity
This plant is about 50% more productive than other South African vehicle manufacturing plants. ISIS Ltd. accomplished the programming, configuration, commissioning, documentation, and training in just under nine months.

Painting a Clearer Picture :
Cimplicity Tracker Improves Saturn's Panel Inventory by 30%

Saturn Corp. (Spring Hill, Tenn.) was experiencing low production throughput, as well as increased overtime in its painted panels operation. Saturn found that the situation was caused by a combination of factors:

  • Excessive production downtime;

  • Manual rescheduling of scrapped painted panel sets; and

  • Low percentage of in-sequence inventory in Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS).

Saturn now relies on Cimplicity Tracker, a software option for Cimplicity HMI software from GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, Va.), for improved monitoring and control.

The Information Systems Approach
If scrapped paint panels could be repainted or replacement panel sets could be rescheduled quickly, a tremendous amount of time and money could be saved. The Information Systems Team addressed the problem of accessing required production data from two different control systems. According to Randy Fowler, MIS Operations Leader, 'these two standalone systems were not `open' and did not share data. This caused the manual intervention for rework and rescheduling.'

Fortunately, Saturn had an existing manufacturing implementation of Microsoft Windows NT (workstation and server). This common platform allowed the Information Systems team to use Tracker to integrate work in process and AS/RS inventory from both of the proprietary control systems. Tracker provided a single view of panel set inventory relative to production scheduling to both the business and production systems.

Because the new system is built upon common Microsoft Windows technology, the paint production team can use desktop analytical tools like Microsoft Excel. 'Tracker has provided the functionality and ease-of-use required at the Saturn plant,' according to Saturn's Mary Beth Ryan, Senior Systems Project Engineer.

Production Status Server
'The Production Status Server (PSS) interacts with Cimplicity HMI Tracker's open application programming interface to monitor the current status of the work in progress and AS/RS inventory. Given a schedule, it determines shortages at different stages of the production cycle and distributes this information to various custom applications. These in turn react to compensate for current shortages,' Ms. Ryan says.

Information provided by Tracker is also available to distributed applications. Utilizing client/server architecture, this information gives paint production team personnel real-time inventory and work in progress feedback. 'This has reduced manual communication and empowered the paint production to act on potential down-time situations before they become critical,' Mr. Fowler adds.

According to Mr. Fowler, since implementation of Cimplicity Tracker, Saturn has experienced:

  • A 30 % improvement in Major Panels AS/RS usable inventory;

  • Significant improvement in recovery/rescheduling capability during production problems;

  • Significant reduction in production overtime required to recover from paint anomalies;

  • Potential to replicate this solution in other areas of the manufacturing; and

  • Significant annual cost savings due to increase in usable inventory.

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