RFID in Engine Production

In order to improve efficiency and exclude errors as much as possible, one automotive manufacturer in China is using RFID in its engine production for the mounting of moving parts. This ensures error-free and completely transparent production for the customer.

Multivariant production

System integrators Tianyong Mechatronics, based in Shanghai, used Turck's BL ident RFID solution to implement the quality assurance and control of engine production. The customer produces several engine variants on one assembly line. RFID read/write heads identify the current engine variant using an RFID tag that is fitted to the workpiece carrier of the engine blocks. The system reads the appropriate configuration of the necessary components from a database and links them with the current engine.

Workers sort the smaller components into picking containers, and the read/write heads on the assembly lines read the engine ID so that the controller can automatically request the required components. Light signals at the corresponding shelf compartments indicate to the worker the parts to be selected for each specific engine, allowing employees to select the parts and acknowledge that the correct components have been picked.

A worker brings the carriers with several vertically arranged boxes to the assembly line where they are transported by a conveyor belt on multi-layered carriers. Tags are fitted to each individual shelf frame, and these move past the read/write heads of the stations. The system can thus assign the picking containers to the correct engine and enable the production of several engine variants on a single assembly line.

This provides the automotive manufacturer with complete statistical data about production, enabling error accumulations and their sources to be identified and rectified systematically. Despite the comprehensive acquisition of data, the customer also required additional protection from data loss or write errors through unexpected disturbance factors. The system integrator therefore recommended the additional use of a Turck RFID handheld device. This enables assembly workers on the line to carry out read/write operations manually in order to check tags spontaneously without having to initiate a stop on the assembly line.

As different fieldbus protocols are used in the application for different tasks, the modularity of Turck's BL ident RFID system has made a good impression. The read/write heads on the line are integrated into the infrastructure with BL67 I/O systems.

Impressive modular solution

Chuanhua Rong, project manager at system integrators Tianyong Mechatronics, was impressed by the flexibility of the BL ident system. “The modular structure enabled the same BL ident modules to be used on different gateways. This simplifies model selection. We only had to replace the gateways to implement different protocols. The same RFID base modules, read/write heads, tags, and cable sets could be used for all gateways.”

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