Finicky consumer preference, increasing regulatory requirements and fluctuating geographic demand have had a dramatic impact on automotive manufacturing.
Today's rapid-pace automotive plants are challenged to not only increase capacity and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) – but also to produce more vehicle variations than ever before.
Whether a carmaker can meet these challenges often rests squarely on their ability to successfully migrate existing equipment to the latest technology – as well as update their processes and workforce to support it.
Certainly, auto manufacturers recognize obsolescence risk. All equipment becomes increasingly difficult to maintain and inefficient as it reaches end-of-life. In fact, automakers routinely report on plant efficiency (OEE) and often identify vulnerable equipment as part of those reports.
However, the prospect of taking the next step and implementing an equipment migration plan can be daunting – especially in light of day-to-day productivity demands.
For many manufacturers, the critical questions are:
- Where is equipment obsolescence posing the greatest risk to my future plant performance or flexibility?
- What steps can I take to mitigate that risk with the least disruption to my plant operations?
- How can I best align equipment migration with the capital budget?
We believe carmakers can address these concerns by taking a proactive and strategic approach to equipment lifecycle management, beginning with an installed based evaluation (IBE).
A Rockwell Automation Installed Base Evaluation™ is a site-delivered service designed to provide a holistic view into all the physical assets on your plant floor. Our IBEs encompass equipment from both Rockwell Automation and other vendors – and deliver an analysis that includes a detailed equipment inventory along with Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) data.
Rockwell Automation IBEs also take a closer look at critical spares plus related inventory and storage costs. Collaborating with our customers, we also include prioritized recommendations for obsolescence remediation and next steps.
The bottom line? Our IBEs provide the data you need to pinpoint the most acute obsolescence risks by site, area, line, machine and panel – and make smart decisions regarding mitigating problem areas via support agreements and finally, eliminating those risks through migration.
Beyond the IBE, a Rockwell Automation assessment can also extend to risks related to workforce readiness, network and security, safety, and other processes.
For most carmakers, an incremental, systematic approach focused on low-risk improvements over the lifecycle of the equipment is the most efficient way to migrate technology and reduce upfront investment.
Equally important, a proactive approach allows carmakers to align equipment migrations with regularly scheduled downtime – and minimize impact to the production schedule. For example, planning incremental migrations for weekend hours and executing more extensive projects during standard summer or holiday shutdowns. Take a look at how Toyota completed a press shop transfer system upgrade during a standard two-week summer shutdown.
And see how Rockwell Automation can help you identify, mitigate and eliminate obsolescence risk – and bring contemporary products, processes and workforce efficiencies to your automotive manufacturing facility.
Co-authored by Wayne Kraszewski
Lifecycle Program Manager, Rockwell Automation
Published March 14, 2016