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eFlex Assembly Featured in Assembly Magazine Article: Decentralized Control Lends Flexibility to GM Plant

Created: 03 February 2015

Decentralized Control Lends Flexibility to GM Plant

Below are the first few paragraphs from this article, with links at the end to read the full article. Please Note: The article discusses how eFlex Assembly (they reference it as FACS) was used by GM to make their assembly system flexible.

Published in Assembly Magazine
Written by Jim Remski
Published Date: February 3, 2015

"Thinking outside the box” is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective. To think outside the box is to look farther—to avoid thinking of the obvious solutions to a problem and to try to come up with new alternatives.

During a recent retooling project at the General Motors power train assembly plant in Toledo, OH, that business cliché took on a literal, as well as a figural, meaning.

Founded in 1916 and employing some 1,900 people, the factory assembles both rear-wheel drive and front-wheel drive transmissions. Since February 2006, GM has invested more than $1.2 billion in the facility.

In 2010, the automaker embarked on a project to boost production of six-speed transmissions, particularly the new, fuel-efficient GF6 product, which was designed for small cars like the Chevrolet Malibu and Cruze. The goal was to produce more than 2,200 units per day.

In revamping the GF6 production line, GM engineers wanted to improve workflows, improve changeovers, reduce reprogramming, and prevent the curse of all automated manufacturing lines—situations in which one malfunctioning machine causes the entire line to shut down. GM engineers also wanted to minimize maintenance time by installing PLCs, drives and pallet-recognition devices outside of the conventional cabinetry found on traditional assembly lines. And, they wanted to distribute controllers throughout the line and thereby substantially increase system flexibility.

GM completed the project with the help of Siemens Industry and software provider eFlex Systems Inc. Siemens provided the PLC, CNC system, human-machine interfaces, radio frequency identification (RFID) system, and its high-level Ethernet protocol, Profinet, to run on the GM network. Overlaying this hardware and communications topology was the Flexible Assembly Configuration System (FACS) from eFlex Systems." FACS is also more widely known as eFlex Assembly.

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Resources

Assembly Line Comparison Study:

Flexible Assembly Line vs Highly Automated Fixed Tooling

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Your assembly line’s output must reflect market demand, adapt in a fraction of the time, and maintain quality. Download this case to see a comparison between two assembly lines: one highly fixed and the other flexible.

  

Inflexible Assembly Line Case Study:

"Market Change Results in Lost Sales Due to 'Inflexible' Fixed Tooling Assembly Systems"

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Read this case study to learn how a global manufacturer with an “inflexible” assembly lines was NOT prepared to handle an overnight shift in demand, resulting in lost sales. To fix this issue, this major automotive manufacturer implemented eFlex Assembly on their global powertrain assembly lines to achieve great results!

 

Case Study:

eFlex Vision Processes 200,000 Images Per Day on a High Volume Transmission Assembly Line

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A large automotive manufacturer uses eFlex Vision to process over 200,000 process images per day, at roughly 200 images per minute. Learn how eFlex Vision increases their image accessibility and reliability, reduces complexity and maintenance costs, decreases response time to camera issues, provides camera audit trail tracking and much more.