Tier 1 supplier Toyota Tsusho Assembly Systems production plant updated its production process and implemented Infinity Technology’s JIT/JIS Production System. This customised solution helped manage increasing complexity and automate quality checks.
Infinity provided TTAS Castle Donington with a system that allows growth and flexibility and a platform to meet future customer requirements
Gary Barnes, Operations Manager, TT Assembly Systems
Toyota Tsusho Assembly Systems (TTAS) lean production plant in Castle Donington aims to continually improve and develop its car wheel assembly process. Consistency and quality are key factors for the plant which delivers assemblies in sequenced delivery, with short lead times, to one of the UK’s major car manufacturers Toyota. Any failures or delays in the Sequence Production System and assembly line have a serious impact on the bottom line.
TTAS asked Infinity to plan a development and implementation project which delivered the enhancements needed. TTAS and Infinity weighed up the different options for implementing the required changes. Together they decided that replacing the existing 10-year-old assembly line software system with a new system (Hudson) was a necessary risk to take.
The additional functions required were Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) support, an End-of-Line Screen for quality checking and additional features to simplify the user interface. Selecting a new Sequence Production System allowed Infinity to design a system that is both easy to use and to train new system users on.
Infinity planned the design, testing and implementation for the Sequence Production Software to coincide with the immovable deadline set by Toyota for implementation of TPMS assemblies for Avensis vehicles. A further challenge for the software project was the need to support two parallel formats of production instruction broadcasts during a transitional period.
Infinity Technology developed a JIT/JIS Sequence Production System for TTAS which drives production from receiving the broadcast for assemblies, managing Build of Materials (BoMs) and sequencing of the production through to quality checking and delivery.
The Sequence Production System was customised to communicate with Toyota’s system and TTAS’s Production Line Machinery.
1. Sequence Broadcast
The products assembled at the TTAS production line are vehicle specific, assembled to Toyota’s exact specification and delivered in sequence. Sequenced broadcast is critical for the timely delivery of the assemblies. TTAS supply assemblies to Toyota’s production line for two vehicle models, the Avensis and the Auris. As TPMS was not implemented on these vehicles at the same time, the Sequence Production System was customised to receive and support two different format broadcasts side by side during the transitional phase.
2. PLC Connection
Infinity worked with CMW, a 3rd party supplier of production line hardware at TTAS, to provide the interface between the assembly line (Programmable Logic Control, PLC) and the Hudson End of Line Screen. If PLC communications were to fail and the assemblies were not ready in time to be fitted at the next step in the process at Toyota’s production line, the result would be significant time wasted and economic losses. Development and testing of the custom protocols for the machinery was required, this was facilitated by Infinity’s Japanese speaking staff and the Japan based production line hardware supplier CMW.
3. Implementing TPMS
Integrating the TPMS sensors to the wheel assemblies was a significant change to the assembly process. Fitting the TPMS sensors inside all tyres introduces a number of new components to the Build of Materials (BoMs) and greatly increased the number of variants of wheel assembly. After the change, having two valves instead of one, doubles the possible assembly combinations to over 50 variants. Integrating the support for TPMS was a major reason for opting for new software because customised updates were needed for BoMs and barcodes.
4. End-of-Line Screen
As a second major update an End-of-Line Screen for checking the assemblies was introduced. Previously, laminated inspection cards were used for the checking, which was time consuming. Infinity’s Sequence Production System automated this checking phase by showing pictures on screen. Presenting inspection on screen also enables the plant to move towards paperless production.
As with all Infinity’s systems the design of the Sequence Production System for TTAS is based on the specific business and technical requirements of both Tier1 and Toyota. The system was designed as an exact fit for broadcasts, production control and sequencing. Developing the system involved working with TTAS staff at the plant, frequent meetings with Toyota and cross checking information and delivery plans.
Continuous development of the assembly processes at the Castle Donington plant is a big driving factor for the TTAS business. When changes and further automation are required in the assembly line Infinity’s open source based system design allows easy add-ons. Infinity’s client-specific design provides TTAS with a platform for further system development and assembly line updates.
Toyota’s deadline for TPMS implementation and crucial testing steps were planned and executed. Preparing for the smooth transition on the factory floor at the Castle Donington plant, Infinity ran prototype, production and quality trials out of business hours. These confidence checks enabled a smooth transition to live production.
For operational switch over Infinity provided personnel on-site. The switch over to live took place between shifts during a 2 hour window.
The Hudson Sequence Production System is designed to meet T.T. Assembly Systems’ and Toyota’s exact requirements. It is customised to interface with Toyota’s / OEM’s system and PLCs on the factory floor.