More market share is always the goal of every automaker, whether it’s based in the United States, Europe or Asia. This explains why Kia Motors Corp., Korea’s oldest
automobile OEM, opened the Kia Motors Slovakia (KMS) manufacturing plant in Zilina, Slovakia, in 2006.

Initially, two SUV models (Sorento and Sportage) and the compact Cee’d were made at the facility. The three-door hatchback Pro Cee’d and five-door estate Cee’d SW were added in 2007.

By 2009, the Sportage represented more than 80 percent of the 200,000 or so vehicles produced. In 2010, the Sorento was replaced with the Hyundai ix35 SUV. Production of the ix35 ended in March 2011. That October the plant began making the minivan Venga.

Around this time, KMS decided to replace the safety system of the Body Complete manual assembly line, which had 20 workers. The system featured relays that were guarded by scanners, and it was operated by Allen-Bradley CompactLogix and ControlLogix safety controllers.

Its main drawback was extensive wiring that ran from the relays to safety devices in the main cabinet. Plus, there was no bypass function from the scanners. This setup often resulted in device failure and complete line stoppage. Making things worse, managers had difficulty identifying why or where the failure occurred. Maintenance and repair times were lengthy, and productivity suffered.

To eliminate these problems, KMS had Rockwell Automation Inc. design and install a simpler system that seamlessly connects safety devices and information. The new system’s platform is based on programmable GuardLogix safety controllers, which provide Safety Integrity Level 3 control. Because the controllers work easily with common programming software and networks, KMS saved on development time and application costs.

The safety system also features RSLogix 5000 programming software,
an Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus monitor, and several safety point I/O modules and scanners. Each module is connected to a controller on an EtherNet I/P network. During assembly, real-time safety data and conditions (including alarms and emergencies) are tracked with the software and displayed on the monitor.

With the old system, the entire line stopped if a person entered the cell or if one device failed during production. The new system divides the assembly line into five work zones, each of which has a cabinet with a module and only 2 to 3 meters of wiring.

This setup ensures that only the relevant work zone shuts down during an interruption. To quicken startup, the scanner’s bypass indicates the specific location of the failure.

The system’s reliability has enabled MKS to continually increase production the last three years. In 2013, plant output was 292,000 units, which is close to the full capacity of 300,000 units. Equally important, safety breakdown time has been reduced by 70 percent.

 For more information on safety controllers, call 440-646-3434 or visit