Ryobi Die Casting Inc. is a Tier One automotive supplier operating two diecasting plants and a machining operation in Shelbyville, IN. Recently it implemented Rockwell Automation's FactoryTalk ProductionCentre software on a new manufacturing line — in order to meet a certain customer's demand for complete serialized part traceability.
Rockwell Automation (www.rockwellautomation.com) supplies industrial automation power, control, and information solutions, and its FactoryTalk integrated production and performance software suite addresses six production disciplines common to most manufacturing operations. Its applications are designed for seamless integration with the Rockwell Automation ControlLogix platform, as well as extensive connectivity to third-party and legacy systems.
The Rockwell program was adopted as part of a comprehensive tracking solution, and Ryobi is using it to follow each part by serial number as it progresses through a 12-station production process. Part visibility and tracing are possible across each operation, including an off-site heat-treating process. Rockwell contends that tracking and documenting the date and time that individual parts are produced means that Ryobi will be able to verify that it completes all the required production steps and meets all the product specifications.
"We knew we needed a reliable traceability solution that would allow accurate documentation and could be easily integrated into our plant database," states Ryobi's William Baker, IT/NT manager. In addition to its traceability and reporting capabilities, he adds that FactoryTalk ProductionCentre drives operational improvements "by allowing us to monitor and track the entire sequence and history of the production process. This lets us identify production variations and benchmark progress to ensure that we're meeting throughput and quality goals."
At each production station, machine vision systems scan the serial number of each part as it exits the process, along with a time-stamp and operator identification. This data is stored by the software, which is connected to a Microsoft SQL database, allowing the plant to track and log thousands of production records easily and quickly, in a completely automated process.
"The ability to improve process visibility and quality is an increasingly important capability for manufacturers across multiple industries," says Kevin Roach, v.p. - software, Rockwell Automation. "With FactoryTalk ProductionCentre, manufacturers like Ryobi are able to reduce business risk and improve process visibility, while providing customers with the on-demand traceability they need in today's information-intensive manufacturing environment."
With the tracking system in place, Ryobi draws on the newly available data to improve production processes, and can respond quickly to customer demands to gather and report production data on short notice.
According to John Genovesi, Rockwell Automation's v.p., automotive industry, "A key requirement for today's automotive suppliers is the ability to meet product quality standards across production processes and throughout the supply chain. By incorporating better information flow from the plant floor to the rest of its enterprise, Ryobi is at the front end of addressing these issues and meeting the production goals of its customers."