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Manufacturing

Case Study:

Industrialesud implements Wonderware

Based in Teramo, Industrialesud is an Italian company with globally recognised competence in the development, design, production and delivery of car interior trimmings, specialising in the production and assembling of panels for the interior lining of car roofs.

“Our order management system is always up and running, as all automotive OEMs submit orders – in real time and with no fixed frequency – to all their suppliers involved in the production process,” says Luca Cerè, IT manager at Industrialesud. “Each order is stored into our database with a specific item code and sent to the manufacturing lines. Based on incoming orders, the manufacturing lines automatically manage approximately 2,000 parameters that define the production of the customer-specific roof panel.” Such activity runs on three working shifts, with lines delivering over 1,000 roof panels each day.

This process is very critical. The function of roof panels is to create a heat and sound barrier between the car’s metal body and people inside the passenger compartment. The mechanical strength and thickness of these components shall differ according to the interior equipment of each car model, especially airbag positions. Excessive mechanical strength in specific locations, for instance, might prevent the correct expansion of the safety system, while inadequate strength might cause some parts to fall off, with negative consequences on customer satisfaction levels.

For this reason, during production, resin quantities are accurately measured and dispensed; similarly, drying time and temperature must be very accurate and controlled for consistent repeatability. “As evidence of the great attention we pay to the production of such elements, just consider that we have implemented an OCR system that can read the best-before date on glue cans, preventing their use in case the limit date has passed,” says automation department manager Andrea Merlitti.

This attention to detail is necessary, as car manufacturers are more and more demanding with their suppliers and do not tolerate any non-compliance. Any issue would involve corrective actions on the assembling lines, with delays that have an impact on all operations downstream. And it would be even worse if problems arise after sales, requiring urgent actions that have high prices in terms of money and reputation.

Based on these demands, Industrialesud invested huge resources in process automation. Now, a production line is handled by just four people. This goal has been achieved using the most sophisticated electronic solutions on the market, while also implementing Wonderware management and monitoring systems.

Wonderware manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions are widespread and appreciated by most car manufacturers, as they are particularly keen on software platform efficiency and stability. These features are also appreciated by the management of Industrialesud, which adopted the Wonderware platform a few years ago, with the support of CMQ Automazione, a systems integrator specialising in industrial automation and equipment.

Our order management system is always up and running, as all automotive OEMs submit orders – in real time and with no fixed frequency – to all their suppliers involved in the production process

Luca Cerè, IT manager at Industrialesud.
 
In a sphere where no errors can be tolerated and productivity must be consistently high, the focus on quality is extreme. For this reason, besides inline control of all production parameters, each component is checked by an automated system before shipment. In case of discrepancy from preset values, an item is immediately discarded. In a context where production is based on custom orders, any production scrap triggers a number of alarms. To meet the time schedule agreed, the production line receives a command to repeat the production of the non-compliant component with the highest priority. Simultaneously, a set of alerts are sent out to all production managers, requesting them to identify and solve problem causes quickly. However, before this situation is achieved, the trend of a few parameters is constantly monitored, including historical trends. This operating mode enables proactive actions, anticipating the occurrence of issues that might result in production stops or non-compliance. Such functionality is the key to the success of Wonderware Historian, the historical database for plant installations designed for large data volumes.

This solution is highly appreciated for its capacity to manage a virtually unlimited number of parameters very quickly and to interface with any database available in the market. For the operator, processing speed translates into intuitive messages displayed on 17” TPC Panel PC screens and processed by InTouch HMI, another solution by Wonderware. With user-friendly graphical layout and elements, these solutions enable each operator, according to their user profile, to take immediate action in case of deviations from optimal values. The qualified staff along a production line can perform guided actions, regulating a number of parameters and checking the effects of decisions in real time.

Similarly, generic workers who need easy-to-understand instructions and direct support are provided with very clear and direct messages. As Cerè explains: “We can even view the switches that have been disabled following a specific event and we can guide the restore operations. Such an operating mode helps further increase the safety of our operators.”

“All these features are native to the Wonderware platform and, thanks to the flexibility of this platform, have helped us meet all the requirements submitted by Industrialesud,” adds Carlo Caramanico, technical manager at CMQ Automazione.

Such flexibility also extends to the management sphere and to the planning of business operations. Wonderware Historian is directly interfaced to the company’s warehouses, allowing them to monitor raw material consumption in real time and, therefore, to manage orders optimally, preventing the risk of issues that might stop production.

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