Manufacturers constantly must meet evolving consumer demands – and that means machine builders (OEMs) must be flexible enough to respond quickly to market changes.
New products and processes require scalable machine designs with flexible control architecture. Machine builders must select an automation supplier that can deliver powerful, integrated and scalable solutions to keep pace with an end user’s evolving demands. These automation solutions also must offer a similar lifespan to the host machine.
Established in 1994, machine builder Sinhyung Engineering, a leader in vehicle seat assembly automation in Korea, was faced with these exact challenges. Its market share in Korea for seat assembly automation tops 70 percent – a result of focused investments in quality, cost reduction and increased productivity, and its ability to build machines that meet local safety regulations and international safety standards.
In addition to focusing on shortening delivery time and reducing costs, this project – for Lear Company – had special requirements. The unique nature of the machine required an optimum layout for a new communication network, network connections within the existing infrastructure, and the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID).
RFID is a rugged and reliable way to track and document products as they move through the manufacturing process. In the existing infrastructure, the third-party RFID was connected to the network via a PC and then to the PLC – a set-up that was inconvenient for operators and posed undue risk if downtime were to occur, potentially damaging hardware.
Another challenge was consistent support for machines. When considering designs, Sinhyung was focused on finding a single supplier that could provide controllers with every industrial component required for the system – offering faster, easier access to spares and technical support.
To address these challenges, Sinhyung selected the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture® control solution for upgrades to its assembly line, including Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® programmable automation controllers (PAC).
Sinhyung wanted to replace the entire line controlled by a third-party RFID. Unlike the bar code systems used for similar, less demanding applications, the Allen-Bradley 56RF High Frequency RFID system is designed to withstand harsh environments, with system tags, transceivers and interfaces designed to the ISO 15693 open standard for high frequency. Plus, reusable read/write tags allow for flexibility in information and application.
The RFID tag attached to each item identifies the product data so operators can track products on the manufacturing line. With the EtherNet/IP interface, RFID also provides seamless communication back to the enterprise and the all-important assembly equipment.
The use of an EtherNet backbone and integrated hardware gives Sinhyung the ability to exploit the benefits of The Connected Enterprise, and sharing data in real-time to make informed, timely decisions. The integration with ControlLogix and utilizing core functions like Add-on-Instruction (AOI) from the control room result in easier installation and reduced commissioning time.
By using one supplier for the PLC, components and RFID, Sinhyung reduced costs for connecting devices. The high-end technology of ControlLogix, including AOI and seamless integration with RFID, provided a total solution that ultimately:
- Reduced commissioning time approximately 25 percent
- Reduced cost per machine two percent
The experience and skills obtained through this project will be adopted to enhance future opportunities and the creation of a smart factory.
The results mentioned above are specific to Sinhyung Engineering’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.
Allen-Bradley, ControlLogix and Integrated Architecture are trademarks of Rockwell Automation Inc.