Automotive Engineering: Replacing Obsolete Static-Style Andon Display Boards

In the automotive industry, the styling, functionality, and options on vehicles can change fast – and the build lines in the factory have to change just as rapidly.

To accommodate a new vehicle build option, installation stations are changed or renumbered up and down the line. In some plants, the old static-style Andon boards have not changed in five years or more, which means they may still list old install station numbers that no longer apply to the current line configuration.

Here’s how Matrix Technologies, one of the most experienced providers of automotive manufacturing services, helped an automotive manufacturer in Indiana replace their outdated static-style Andon display boards with a modern, new, highly adaptive Andon display system.

The Manufacturer’s Challenge: Upgrading Obsolete Displays

To keep production moving, automotive plants must be able to identify where a problem is on the production line and solve the issue quickly. Andon systems are one way to notify management, maintenance, and other workers about equipment, process, or quality problems affecting line(s).

A major automotive manufacturer turned to Matrix to upgrade the obsolete static-style Andon displays in one of its largest plants.

The project presented several challenges. The manufacturer wanted:

  • A display that could be clearly seen from a distance of at least 200 feet
  • Displays needed to be mounted back to back, 16 feet above the ground, and supported by an overhead structure
  • The display system needed to be adaptive to line configuration changes and easy to modify.
  • Information for the Andon Displays would come from monitoring/mining the data from the Line Control PLCs. Monitoring of the Line Control PLCs could not interfere with the normal functions of the PLC
  • The system needed to provide an audio response to the display of an event on the Andon Displays

Custom Design

The automotive manufacturers’ requirements required the engineers of Matrix to think outside the box in terms of hardware, software and application to create a solution customized to the manufacturer’s requirements.

For the display mount, Matrix designed a custom, heavy-duty, back-to-back mounts that could be suspended from an overhead structure and accept two 65” or larger LED televisions. The mount had an interior shelf to allow for placement of an ACP thin-client and other hardware. Top and side access panels allowed for access to the interior hardware, with the two TVs still-mounted, from a lift or ladder.

Chassis Andon Display Board, with no active alarms, showing current line status.

 

Solid System Architecture

To make an adaptive display, Matrix used a ThinManager thin-client/server architecture that connected to a GE Proficy iFIX terminal server. Proficy iFIX was used to monitor the Line Control PLCs and present an adaptive visual display, as well as provide audio alerts dedicated to designated areas of the line(s) to the factory floor through the 65” displays and mounted speakers.

Adaptive Andon

The adaptive display was designed to provide line station status (numbers at the top of the display) and production pace information (six display areas) when production was running smoothly. When an equipment, process or quality issue occurred, the production pace information would be replaced by large red or yellow description of the issue accompanied by the audio alert dedicated for the issue. Once the issue was resolved, the visual and audio alert would disappear and the production pace information would return to the display.

Results

The initial project was to replace three obsolete Andon boards. The manufacturer was so satisfied with the results that an additional nine displays were replaced by Matrix and three new, larger, shop status display boards were added to the Andon system. The manufacturer also requested pricing for the adaptive displays to be installed on 4 additional lines at their plant for 2018.

Matrix Technologies, Inc. is one of the largest independent process design, industrial automation engineering, and manufacturing operations management companies in North America. To learn more about our automotive manufacturing services, contact Aaron Hilbers, Senior Engineer 2 in the Industrial Systems Division, Indianapolis (317) 347-7700 x 121.

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