A continuously driving fixture

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Some of the most demanding customers for a company like OCS are found in the automotive industry. OCS has been a supplier to Lear Corporation for more than ten years and only last summer OCS supplied the transport system for a new advanced Lear plant in Gothenburg. SOME PEOPE CLAIM that the only thing thats constant, is change.

Just a few kilometres from the large Volvo plant in Gothenburg, Lear opened a new plant in the summer of 2003.The plant assembles cockpits for Volvo cars, and it is the first time ever Volvo has outsourced the assembly of such an important part of their cars to an external contractor.

The building period for the plant was short and intensive. In just three months the plant developed from an empty building to full production.The OCS part of this installation is not one but three assembly lines, all interconnected and synchronised.

In the main line the production of a so-called Driving Unit begins with a cross bar, which is mounted on to an OSC carrier.Air condition, heating systems and a number of other parts, such as cables and control equipment, are then mounted on the cross bar.

At the same time in another line, the assembly of the dashboard begins, and at a given place these two lines meet, and the right dashboard is mounted onto the right Driving Unit.

A few stations further down the line, a third twin track system meets the main assembly line.This is the radio line, which brings down audio and RTI equipment from the upper floor of the building, via conveyors and elevators. At the end of the assembly line, complete cockpits,weighing some 150 kilograms, are lifted off at a rate of approximately one cockpit per minute. These are then transported in the right sequence to the Volvo plant and mounted into their respective cars. Together the three lines uses 120 carriers; 10 for the dashboards, 40 for the Driving Units and 70 for the radio line. 

The most difficult part of this system is that it must run continuously at the same speed, which is frequency controlled in some parts, and then move faster in the parts where there are nowork stations, comments Kenth Almqvist, managing director of OCS. At the same time the operators are assembling an complete cockpit on the carrier while it is moving forward.This means that the carrier must not swing or halt, but move continuously at an even speed.

This is achieved by metal guides on the floor, which stabilise the carrier in the workstations. Another difficulty is of course the absolute need for synchronisation between the lines the right dashboard and audio equipment must be mated with the right driving unit.This places high demands on the PLC that controls the assembly lines and communicates with Lears own production computers.

Finally there is the need for the assembly lines to always be running, without fail.Availability must be 98 percent or more, which has been met with special packages of spares and extra training of the maintenance staff at Lear. This is of course a very important order for us, says Kenth Almqvist.The concept is new to Lear and they are trying to interest other customers in the automotive industry in this new production system.This fits very well with our aim to continue to focus on the sub-suppliers of the automotive industry. 

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