Automotive Parts Production Monitoring

unipres logoFor three decades, Unipres has been delivering press-formed components to the automotive industry from its manufacturing sites in Sunderland and Birmingham.

In 2013 Unipres began monitoring the production assets at the Sunderland site with a trial on six assets. Analysis of trial data highlighted production losses including downtime and target speeds with significant potential for efficiency improvement.
Since then the system has been continuously expanded to monitor over 200 assets across Assembly Cells and Press Shop. Assets at the Aston, Birmingham site are also connected to the same system over the company network.

Strategically placed overhead large screen displays show overview of run/stop states of all assets on the sites in Sunderland and Aston.

Press Shop

In the Press Shop around 20 assets are monitored with a standard layout PlantRun system.
An outstation at each press allows the operator to interact with the system without leaving the area. Each outstation allows for straightforward connection of signals from each asset to enable monitoring.

Assembly Cells

In the Assembly Cells area connection to the assets is made with Omron FINS software to PLC. The system tracks the UID/Part Number, the operator running each Cell, handles requests for sub-assemblies and indicates where there is a fault with the Cell. A barcode scanner at each Cell allows operator interaction.

An operator informs the system that a new production run is starting by scanning the Unique ID (UID) and Part Number from the label, at the last stage of the Assembly Cell. As some Assembly Cells can produce more than one product at the same time, the system is capable of handling up to 4 active products at the same time. The PlantRun system is configured to know which of the 4 possible product counts is associated with each stage. Each UID also has associated with it a product count which is reset at the start of a production run.

Operators log on to an Assembly Cell by entering their salary / clock card number at the Cell through a barcode scanner. Each Cell can have up to 6 operators running it (1 per stage), so up to 6 can log on to the same Cell at the same time. Each time an operator logs on to a particular stage the PLC register associated with that stage is updated with the operator’s salary number.

If a stage within an Assembly Cell is running low on sub-assemblies a request is made by the operator for new Subs. Up to 10 ‘Subs Call’ are tracked for each Cell.
This includes the following fields:
• Asset Name - Assembly Cell name
• Asset Number - 1 to 999
• Stage Number - 1 to 10
• Date/Time - date and time when the operator requested subs
• Sub Code – the Sub-Assembly code

If an operator needs to report a fault at a particular stage they select from either a Facility fault (Jig or Facility) or Production/Material at the PLC and log the fault which is recorded in a ‘Fault Reporting’ table in the production database. This includes the following fields:
• Asset Name - Assembly Cell name
• Asset Number - 1 to 999
• Stage Number - 1 to 4
• Date/Time - date and time when the fault was reported
• Fault Code – the symptom code from the PLC
• Index Reference – a unique number
• Fault Acknowledged – set to 0 initially to indicate that the record hasn’t been seen by Unipres’ PDA system

When maintenance has arrived at the Cell, the operator resets the request and the system records the resolution time.

Now employing over 1,400 staff, and with total investment passing £185m, Unipres UK continues to provide quality products for the automotive industry.
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