Assembly in Action: Pallet System Increases Production Capacity
April 19, 2007
Schrader Electronics Ltd. (Antrim, Ireland) supplies electronic safety systems to the automotive industry and is the market leader in the area of remote tire pressure monitoring systems (RTPMS).
RTPMS allows drivers to monitor their vehicle’s tire pressures by using electronic sensors that transmit pressure, temperature and acceleration data at regular intervals from each wheel to a central control unit in the vehicle. In recent years, tire-pressure monitoring systems have become a standard safety technology in an increasing number of vehicles in the United States and Europe. Even greater demand is expected in the future.
To meet this increased demand, Schrader manufacturing director, Paul Gardner, decided to upgrade the company’s existing automated production line from Bosch Rexroth Corp. (Buchanan, MI)-installed several years earlier-as well as expand the company’s product testing abilities. The goal was to increase line capacity from 3 million to 5 million units per year. Integral to this plan would be the installation of new automation and controls, and a workpiece pallet-transfer system.
To facilitate rapid changeovers between different product types, Schrader installed a Rexroth TS2plus Flexible Transfer System conveyor, which makes it possible to switch product types in as little as 30 minutes. The TS2plus is part of a wider product family that includes a variety of interchangeable units, including curves, transverse conveyors, and positioning and drive units that can be combined to create a complete system.
A selection of predefined macro modules further reduces the time spent on planning and designing, while still permitting the construction of numerous variants and made-to-measure systems tailored to a particular assembly task.
In addition, Schrader Electronics implemented an IndraControl VSP 40 controller, featuring a compact 15-inch panel PC with touch-screen operation. In the upgraded production line, the VSP 40 controls a robot, which is used to separate good and bad parts. The system also stores and transmits production data for real-time analysis.
In expanding its product-testing capabilities, Schrader Electronics was able to reuse 48 percent of its original capital equipment, providing substantial costs savings.
The upgrade took about a month to complete, during which time the company had to completely shut down production. Gardner says the plant was able to accommodate the disruption by planning ahead to accommodate customers. He adds that Bosch Rexroth played a major role in helping get the new system up and running, so Schrader could resume production as quickly as possible.
“This 1 month took 5 months to prepare for in terms of making sure we had the new equipment prepared and enough stock to supply our customers,” Gardner says. “In total, the whole process has taken less than a year from concept to delivery.”
Since ramping up, the system has performed as expected, and the company is meeting both production goals and quality targets.
“The new…product has proved to be robust and reliable. Our original line…has been running since 1999, so it was proven in use. With Bosch Rexroth, the reliability and robustness of the equipment is key,” Gardner says.
For additional information on production automation and parts transfer systems, call 800-739-7684 or visit www.boschrexroth-us.com.