IAC Assembling Smart Auto Factory for a Flexible Future
HALEWOOD, UK—Auto parts manufacturer Industrial Automotive Components (IAC) is rolling out a range of industrial IoT (IIoT) projects at its plant here that may serve as a model for the $4.4 billion company’s other factories worldwide, reports InternetOfBusiness.com.
The company has more than 50 factories in 19 countries, has chosen this one to experiment with a range new technologies, including IIoT sensors, real-time data analytics, and collaborative robots (cobots). IAC’s leaders hope that the technologies will enable the plant to be more flexible in accommodating orders from customers, such as nearby Jaguar Land Rover, and to find more efficient ways of producing high-quality vehicle interiors.
According to the company, IAC Halewood features an “extremely flexible” just-in-time assembly line for the cockpits its builds for several different vehicles. For example, the company has substituted a fixed carousel with 42 automated guided vehicles to deliver parts to the production line, enabling workers to assemble up to four million cockpit variants on a single production line.
The production line itself can easily be reconfigured by taping different arrangements of magnetic guidance strips on the shop floor, which the AGVs use to navigate around the factory. Real-time machine utilization software allows plant managers to keep a close eye on how work is progressing, while enabling them to make immediate adjustments. Data analytics allows them to experiment with future planning and manufacturing improvements.
Once a cockpit reaches the end of the production line, it is checked by skilled operators for quality control. The operators will be assisted in the task by cobots equipped with cameras.