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Transit front axle assembly line turns out to be a winner

Transit front axle assembly line turns out to be a winner
25/07/2011

Thyssen Krupp contacted Bubble Automation to help upgrade one of their production lines. The project threw up several key challenges one of which was the fact that the original system was based on a Visual Basic application checking parts of the assembly line with a Siemens S7 PLC controlling the pallet movements.

The second challenge concerned the current production, which at all costs could not be disrupted as the assembly line supplied the Ford Transit plant in Eastleigh.

The Thyssen Krupp plant PLC standard was Allen Bradley so the upgrade had to have a SLC500 PLC based control system.

Bubble Automation's solution started with the parallel wiring of an Allen Bradley SLC500 PLC with the existing Siemens S7 unit. This work could only be done over a specific weekend when there was no production. Our staff where on hand at the start of production at six on Monday morning to ensure no problems.

Once this preliminary work was complete the development of the new system could begin. Another problem of the project was the torque guns, which on the old system used some specific PC software to communicate with, which was unsupported, and little information was available.

This was replaced with a special serial to Ethernet device containing numerous serial ports, this was located near the torque guns and separate cables from each gun were connected to the Ethernet device.

Because of the non-interruption of production all testing could only be done on weekends where there was no production.

The testing would involve disconnecting the Siemens S7 PLC and connecting the Allen Bradley SL500 unit. This also had to be put back and checked before production start on Monday.

When the new system was developed and at a chosen weekend the old Siemens S7 PLC was turned off and the Allen Bradley SLC500 was turned on.

After an agreed proving period the original Siemens S7 PLC was removed and the VB PC was decommissioned.

Since the completion of the upgrade work the plant as performed extremely well , the system is now far more supportable with extensive diagnostic information provided by the new Delphi based SCADA.

The plants maintenance engineers have far more confidence in the new system being able to overcome most problems and day to day issues themselves.

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