JUL-AUG 2018

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INTECH JULY/AUGUST 2018 23 FACTORY AUTOMATION the area and items, and sustaining the new order. In applications with particularly high variability, opera- tors use smartphone-sized wireless handheld computers with a bar-code reader connected to the ERP system and linked to the warehouse management system. The operator simply scans a manufacturing order, his or her work center ID, and bill of materials for the order. The system will then deliver the materials to the workstation. Application examples I had a discussion with a manager at a company that imple- mented automated guided vehicles to improve operations at manual workstations. The company implemented the Lean 5S method of workplace organization. The location of ev- erything in the workspace was defined and clearly marked, and this ensured the efficient use of AGVs. The AGV was pro- grammed to arrive at the workstation and stop, allowing the operator to take the required materials that it was delivering. If the workplaces were not organized in an orderly fashion, the workflow could be easily interrupted, as an AGV makes an automatic safety stop if something is in its programmed path. The overall project goal was the implementation of a qual- ity, systems-controlled, pull process that enabled more effi- cient retrieval and delivery of materials to work centers, en- hancing production flow. The solution used AGVs that were directed based on production flow. The ERP system sched- uled them to minimize repetitive material movements to and from the points of use. This approach met the flexibility required by the high variability of order types. There are a number of advantages cited using this approach: l ensures correct material and batch deliveries to workstations l delivers real-time traceable materials to workstations l provides end-of-order reconciliation based on actual consumption The results have been annual recurring savings due to vehicle automation and process simplification. The savings have been more than $5 million a year, at more than 40 sites. I had the opportunity to tour the Detroit Diesel manufac- turing plant in Redford Township, Mich. Detroit Diesel has made significant improvements to enhance its manufactur- ing. The flexible diesel engine production line is deployed using heavy-duty AGVs that each move a large engine block to workstations. The engine block is mounted so that it can be rotated for assembly operations by personnel. This setup was also part of implementing the Lean 5S method. n ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bill Lydon ( is chief editor of InTech . Lydon has been active in manufacturing automation for more than 25 years. He started his career as a designer of computer-based machine tool controls; in other positions, he applied program mable logic con- trollers and process control technology. In ad dition to experience at various large companies, he cofounded and was president of a venture-capital-funded industrial automation software company. View the online version at Build it, See it, Price it, Order it. Point and click or tap to specify valve type, end connections, actuator, and accessories. Model number, price, description, and photo all update instantly! Try one today at: We Make Valve Automation Easy! Online Valve Configurators Quickly & Easily Specify a Complete Automated Valve Assembly on Your PC, Tablet, or Phone Wherever you see this image AGVs provide automated forklift functions to move heavier loads. Source: Dematic Corp.

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