Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) was founded in 1944 and is Korea's oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. As part of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Kia aims to become one of the world's premier automotive brands. To increase the market share not only in Europe but also worldwide, KMC built its first-ever European facility in Zilina, in Slovakia, and started production in December 2006 with capacity of 300,000 units a year.
Kia Motor Slovakia (KMS) produced two models, the Kia cee'd and Kia Sportage in 2009. The Kia cee'd model represented more than 80% of the total production. New SUV models, the brand new Sportage and the Hyundai ix35, were added to the production portfolio in 2010, so KMS currently produces three models.
SUV models represented more than 50% of all production in 2010. KMS produced 229,505 automobiles in 2010.
Like other automotive companies, optimising manufacturing processes became more important than ever before, to maximise efficiency and productivity. And KMS required an integrated solution where information and devices are connected seamlessly to each other.
KMS's Body Shop was operating with CompactLogix connected with ControlLogix and its Body Complete (BC) Line was assembling all moving parts, with manual handling by 20 workers. But frequent breakdowns not only decreased productivity, but also sometimes caused the entire line at KMS to stop production.
The BC Line was configured with SICK safety relays and was guarded with SICK safety scanners and relays. The safety relays had complicated wiring and long conductor routing from the safety device to the relay in the main cabinet, without having a by-pass function from the scanners.
The safety circuits or the safety devices caused a lot of small line stops and it was often difficult to identify the reason or the location of the failure while also taking a long time for replacement. Future line stops were always anticipated due to the long and complicated safety wiring circuit.
Relay-based safety controls have a long history of helping prevent hazardous encounters between worker and machine. Safety devices such as scanners and emergency stop push buttons connected by safety relays have been the method of choice to protect machine operators.
But Relays can offer limited fault diagnostics and are difficult to adapt as applications change because of the hardwiring they require. For these reasons, and considering the critical situation, an alternative integrated safety solution offering status visualisation and higher reliability and flexibility than the incumbent relay system was required at KMS.
Seeking a solution to meet its needs for an integrated safety solution with visualisation and increased reliability, KMS turned to Rockwell Automation – a trusted supplier for many of its operations from the commencement of the plant's production.
Rockwell Automation proposed a safety system that comprised safety-related programmable controllers and a network. Safety controller, instead of traditional safety relays, helps customers to create both lean and quick adaptable manufacturing processes that help keep operators safe.
Rockwell Automation offered its Allen-Bradley GuardLogix safety controller, which expands on standard Allen-Bradley ControlLogix processors with safety firmware and a safety processor. Remote safety I/O modules were added and connected to the EtherNet I/P network and visualisation of safety conditions, alarms, emergency events and programming of control system and visualisation was developed for the existing Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus panel. All jobs, including programming and installation, were provided from Rockwell Automation Customer Support and Maintenance (CSM) team.
Allen-Bradley GuardLogix brings together the benefit of a Logix platform – common programming environment, common networks and common control engine – with integrated safety control in an easy-to-use environment while providing Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 3 control. By deploying Allen-Bradley ControlLogix processor, GuardLogix users can benefit from common programming software, controller and I/O to help reduce development time and application cost.
In traditional designs, if a person entered the cell or if one device failed during production, the entire line stopped. KMS had to check each area and its devices to discover the problem. It was difficult to identify the failure and KMS was unable to figure out which safety button was pushed. The entire line was stopped until the failure was identified and solved.
With the new design, the line was divided into five zones. Each zone had a cabinet with Safety Point I/O only with 2-3m wiring. Each Safety Point I/O was connected to Allen-Bradley GuardLogix with EtherNet I/P using RSLogix 5000. Each scanner had a by-pass function with the possibility of light signalling and switching.
Now, when the line is interrupted, only the relevant zone is stopped, signalling the location. The operator can also easily communicate with each zone with visualisation through EtherNet I/P. The failure can be easily identified and quickly recovered while other zones remain operational.
KMS considers the Rockwell Automation solution a complete success. By converting to a Safety PLC from a relay-based solution, KMS now has a flexible line with excellent reliability. The flexible platform reduces maintenance and troubleshooting, while helping to secure safety as required. KMS now plans to expand and apply the integrated safety concept to other lines in the body and press shops.
“With the ability to identify the failure and solve problems quickly, we have dramatically increased productivity by reducing up to 70% of the safety breakdown time," said Ondrey Vasek, Maintenance Manager in Body, KMS . “And most of all, the line is easy to maintain and made my life easier.” One of the targets in KMS is to improve efficiency of existing safety lines. As part its next step, KMS is now considering plans to adapt a similar solution in other lines. And Rockwell Automation's integrated safety solution with GuardLogix will more than likely be considered as the standard platform within KMS.