Futaba Industrial UK (FIUK) has a very complex set of requirements for its welding plant JIS system. This complexity emerges from both the number of variants produced at the FIUK plant and the number of points of fit on the assembly line of their client, Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK.
The Infinity team have provided us with a very reliable and stable software solution, so that we can manufacture and deliver our products in the correct sequence, and just in time.
Matt Cooper, Senior IT Engineer, Futaba Industrial UK Ltd
Futaba Industrial UK was one of the first automotive welding suppliers in Europe to apply Just-in-Time delivery in sequence. In 2005 it built a manufacturing plant in Derby. This plant has 20 flexible robotic cells with multi-product capability and the capacity to deliver assemblies in sequence for their client, Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK.
The Futaba production plant delivers 21 parts in sequence for each individual vehicle to various points of fit on the Toyota assembly line. Production is around 750 – 1,000 vehicles per day. Futaba aimed to develop and maintain a reliable manufacturing unit that could produce high quality welded components and deliver in sequence without being affected by these complexities. To secure the accuracy, stability and reliability of these very complex plant operations Futaba opted to automate a range of production processes. For this goal to be realised a JIS solution would be a prerequisite.
Infinity Technology was chosen by Futaba to develop this crucial JIS solution because of its experience of Just-in-Sequence systems for the automotive industry. Infinity’s challenge was to:
Infinity engineers developed a JIS solution to address these challenges, code named Dove. This solution was based on extensive, detailed analysis of production processes in addition to working in close collaboration with Toyota, the production line staff from Futaba and observation and analysis of Futaba’s production line set up.
The Dove JIS system developed by Infinity for the Futaba welding plant covers BOM, scheduling of production, custom reporting and self-billing. Features like the Welding Instruction Sheet (WIS) and a Matching System to cross-match self-billing data were custom developed to overcome the complexities of the manufacturing process.
1. Receiving Production Instructions & Toyota’s Global ALC
For every vehicle Toyota produces Futaba receives an electronic sequence instruction. This broadcast contains details of the 21 parts which are to be built and shipped in sequence. Dove validates the broadcast both in terms of the validity of the requested parts and the sequence.
2. Production Instruction Sheets
After Dove has validated the sequence production instructions from Toyota it creates the production sets and a Welding Instruction Sheet (WIS). A production set defines the parts which are to be produced for a single shipment to Toyota and the WIS defines the parts for a specific weld cell. The WIS is critical for the manufacturing process because the barcode contains data for the production control machinery (PLC). The WIS has 3 purposes:
A major challenge for sequencing and configuration of shipments is the complexity arising from both the number of delivered parts and the number of points of fit at Toyota Motor’s plant. The initial development of Dove to support six points of fit demanded intensive analysis and collaboration between all parties: Futaba, Toyota and Infinity staff.
To support Futaba in loading and delivering the correct sets of parts to six points of fit at Toyota Motor’s plant, Infinity developed a scanning solution. This solution uses outdoor wireless scanners both for despatch and to ensure each lorry is loaded with correct stillages.
4. Self-Bill Matching
Futaba manufactures and ships around 15,000 parts per day to Toyota. Toyota requires Futaba to support payment on production. This means that each individual part is invoiced as a separate line, which produces around 78,000 transactions a week. To enable Futaba to receive and manage these transactions, Infinity developed a Matching System for the Dove JIS solution.
The Dove Matching System supports self-billing by receiving the self-bill invoice from Toyota and matching it against the records on Dove. Toyota sends a broadcast (called the LINE OFF) that is used both to mark vehicles as being complete in Dove and to create a flag which is used to match Toyota self-bill invoice data with Dove records. For the parts that have not yet been self-billed Dove produces a Discrepancy report for Toyota Motor UK. This shows the types of matching discrepancies between the Dove system and Toyota Motor UK’s monthly self-bill information. Exception reports are also produced for the Futaba finance team to alert them to vehicles which Toyota considers payment is not due on.
Over the past eight years Infinity’s Dove JIS system has matched over 60 million self-billing records.
To ensure optimal plant operation the Infinity JIS system uses high availability software such as Linux, Python, Django, Ruby and Ruby on Rails. The Infinity Dove JIS system for Futaba also has customised key features to make the system reliable and eliminate breaks in production:
In the case of system failure, the JIS system is backed up by a hot standby server to ensure continuous operation of the welding plant. All production data is mirrored to this secondary server in real-time. Should the primary system ever fail, both systems contain identical information and the secondary system can immediately take over and replace the primary system.
The Infinity Dove JIS Solution reliably meets the requirements set by the complicated operations at the Futaba welding plant. Dove provides extremely reliable MES that uses several levels of validation and back-up features to ensure operational continuity at the supplier plant.
In addition Dove provides: