In the automobile industry, the term “headliner” refers to the area extending just above the driver’s head to the rear window. The number and complexity of components included in the headliner increases every year to accommodate a wide variety of electronics. The ceiling of a vehicle has become an information hub, containing everything from DVD players and televisions to navigation and communications devices.
This reality has been a challenge for Covert Manufacturing, which builds machines and fixtures to assemble headliners for the automotive, heavy truck and aircraft industries. These machines combine three ceiling components: upholstery, molded foam and steel.
Covert‘s customers require the machines to have precise controls and sensors in the assembly fixture, without increasing the size of the control panel. An assembly fixture contains all the operational controls on-board. It cannot be taller than about waist high, so operators can place the components into the fixture ergonomically and efficiently.
To meet this challenge, Covert selected On-Machine Solutions from Rockwell Automation. On-Machine Solutions consist of Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock I/O modules and Allen-Bradley PanelConnect modules. Offering plug-and-play capability, they can be used on Covert’s assembly fixtures out-of-panel because they all have the necessary ratings and certifications.
“We couldn’t have met our customer demands with our traditional wiring system, because the control panel size would have expanded and become too tall for the operators using the assembly fixtures,” says Tim Rhoad, manager of control system engineering for Covert, which is based in Galion, OH. “PanelConnect modules are prewired, providing a low-cost way of connecting all the wires necessary to terminate in the panel.”
The module mounts on the side of the machine and is connected directly to the input or output card using Allen-Bradley cables. This eliminates the requirement for any wiring for this I/O.
On-Machine Solutions has enabled Covert to use 20 percent less wiring and reduce wiring time by an average of four hours per assembly fixture. In addition, the quick-connect capability decreases troubleshooting because technicians have fewer wiring connections to check. It also reduces the debugging time when powering up.
Additional benefits are increased device flexibility for retrofitting and improved diagnostics. Engineers spend less time wiring new components because the ArmorBlock I/O modules are located on top of the assembly fixture. Control layouts can be modified and wired quickly.
For more information on plug-and-play connectivity, call 414-382-2000 or visit www.rockwellautomation.com.
For more information on headliner assembly machines, call 419-468-1761 or visit www.covertmfg.com.