Work smarter, not harder

Sep 02, 2004

Activplant Corp.’s enterprise manufacturing intelligence solution was used to accelerate a new product launch at the Tower Automotive frame assembly plant in Plymouth, Mich.

Tower Automotive designs and produces structural components and assemblies used by every major automotive and truck manufacturer worldwide.

Few production lines in manufacturing are more challenging than automotive frame assembly, which covers dozens of steps and stations and incorporating hundreds of discrete components. When launching a frame assembly line, time is money. Since peak profitability for a vehicle model is usually when it is first introduced, it is imperative that the time ramping up to full production be held to an absolute minimum.

Activplant’s Manufacturing Intelligence software, built on Microsoft .NET, provided Tower Automotive with enhanced visibility into its operations and improved their ability to spot and correct problems. As a result, Tower Automotive’s Plymouth, Mich., plant accelerated the launch of a new frame assembly line for the Dodge Dakota by several weeks — meeting all signoff milestones of its automotive OEM customer earlier than ever before. Tower Plymouth’s Activplant implementation was delivered by Mosaic Systems of Ann Arbor, Mich., an Activplant business partner.

The Activplant solution is now connected to tens of thousands of plant floor assets (machines, controls, robots, gauges, sensors and much more) at more than 40 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) facilities in
Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States. The Activplant manufacturing intelligence solution is being used to drive plant floor performance at virtually every type of OEM facility, including assembly, powertrain, stamping, and component plants.

“Activplant allowed us to analyze cycle times and workflow performance at each assembly station, to uncover constraints and remove bottlenecks,” says Gerard Gonos, Tower Plymouth’s business unit manager. “This had a major impact on our throughput. Overall the Activplant system has helped us get the line up and running, debugged and provides ongoing performance improvement.”

For Tower, Activplant automates the collection of plant-floor data to monitor production and quality from a wide variety of sources in real time. By feeding data real-time into a manufacturing intelligence solution, plant management and production personnel can more quickly identify factors affecting quality and throughput and more quickly prevent issues leading to downtime, uptime or other types of production losses. Unplanned maintenance is reduced, recalls and warranty issues become more manageable, resources are optimized, and the link between the plant floor and other business systems becomes measurably stronger.

In addition to Tower Automotive, Activplant is also collecting production metrics from thousands of plant floor machines at many of the world’s largest Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers, including Accuride, ArvinMeritor, Bridgestone, Dana, Draexlmaier, GKN, Hayes Lemmerz, Lear, Magna, Robert Bosch Australia, TRW, Visteon, Webasto, Wescast Industries and ZF.