Increasing Accuracy on Automotive Production Lines

Car doors on automotive production line

The Challenge

Complex production requirements are the mainstay of automotive manufacturing. While Henry Ford may have never actually said “Any color the customer wants, as long as it’s black” the general principle of manufacturing has always been that if you reduce the options, you can increase production and productivity while saving costs. The problem with that adage is that it doesn’t take into account the needs of today’s customer.

A large automotive manufacturer came to us with a challenge. Their production line needed to support a wide variety of vehicles, with a wide variety of components and thousands of  parts needed to support the sequences to keep the production line flowing. While this challenge was endemic to their whole manufacturing process, it was critical to develop a system that could be tested with a relatively small (while still complex) portion of the production line that could prove the benefits and increase accuracy.

Auto assembly line with car doors using Panasonic Logiscend to improve factory efficiency

Car doors on the assembly line

We started with a specific initiative focused on door and trim assembly. Each door had it’s own sequence (managed in a central MES), we needed to consider stock availability and transfer, human components (including staffing and turnover), support flexibility for changes in materials and components and most importantly maintain (and improve) overall accuracy and reduce waste.

There were an existing array of workarounds in place: stocking extra inventory, using hot runners/sharks, etc. that had a direct impact on the bottom line and overall productivity.

“The logiscend team was great to work with. Their production engineers worked closely with our team to ensure their solutions addressed key problems. Their US-based test lab allowed us the ability to make a huge amount of progress on the implementation without iterrupting our active line activity”

The Solution

Logiscend by Panasonic offered a unique solution to these challenges. With a modular approach, Logiscend could tackle this one portion of the manufacturing process without requiring significant downtime, an entire plant overhaul or drastic system changes.

Logiscend integrated with their existing MES, offered a flexible solution featuring wireless components for easy flexibility, digital readouts and work instructions that adapted to the container, location and requirements at each stage of the process. An added feature came in the automatic data collection provided by the Logiscend solution, enabling insight into the effectiveness and efficiency of the production line and identifying opportunities for cost savings and time efficiency.

The Results

Leveraging the existing features of the Logiscend platform’s modular components allowed for rapid deployment of the initial phase and didn’t require lenghthy software development. The restful API interface integrated with our existing systems, reducing the need for complex integrations.

In our initial tests, the implementation ran in parallel with an existing pick to light legacy system allowing for a true comparison of the functionality. The overall benefits were significant and went well beyond expectations.

Not only did the processes run smoothly, there were also significant improvements in employee productivity and it simplified our training process. The displays provided consistent, updated and accurate information to our line team and adapted to each portion of the process.

Of course, the data collection component provided the biggest win. The Logiscend system tracked all the steps along the way and provided data that helped identified inefficiences, reduced errors and streamlined the processes overall.