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Allen-Bradley Application Examples

Data-Linc Group helps improve assembly operation at a large truck manufacturing facility

A 1.6 million square-foot plant, located on nearly 300 acres is one of the largest truck manufacturing plants in the industry. The facility, certified under the ISO 9001 Quality and ISO 14001 Environmental standards, produces two different truck model. This automotive assembly environment provides many challenges to a successful wireless communication system. The operation of variable frequency drives, welding equipment, and other industrial machinery in the vicinity produces interference that can impact radio performance. The frequency hopping characteristics of Data-Linc’s Smart SpectrumTM products are especially well suited to provide robust communications in such difficult environments. The facility employs both 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz license-free Data-Linc radios.

Truck assembly application
ARS-Automatic Storage and Retrieval System assembly process The truck assembly process relies on an Automatic Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) to temporarily inventory truck cabs until a particular model is required on the assembly line. The system, which manages over 250 skids, is critical for a smooth operation of the assembly process. A technical superintendent and a manufacturing technician headed up the project to replace the outdated ASRS control system for painted cab storage with a more robust user friendly system that could provide real time web based reports.

The original ASRS control system utilized a minicomputer and data communication over power rails to the mobile crane units. Although effective, this communications technique required regular maintenance of the mechanical components— downtime that was costly in terms of time and dollars.

The truck assembly plant contracted with Synchrony of Virginia to improve the productivity of the system and to modernize the control/communication technology. The new control system utilizes Rockwell Automation PLC 5/40E controllers with Ethernet communications capabilities—one controller at the base station to manage all part and location data, a second on the mobile crane units.

Data-Linc’s SRM6210E 900 MHz license-free band Ethernet radio modems were selected to provide a wireless connection between the two systems because of the SRM ability to successfully transmit data in the warehouse environment. Robust, reliable communication is especially important in the operation of the mobile equipment sending and receiving part and location information to and from the base station.

Delivery of truck cabs to assembly stations application
The delivery of truck cabs to the appropriate assembly stations requires a second mechanical system. Truck cabs selected by ASRS are conveyed to a transfer car, the ‘T-car,’ which then transports the cab skid to an assembly area. This system needed modernization to improve the overall capacities of the cab delivery operation.

Dillin Control Systems of Perrysburg, Ohio, was selected to design a new control system for the transfer car/shuttle operations. Because of the short communication distance between the new base station— a Rockwell PLC-5/40E— and the shuttle car—a SLC 5/05, they could communicate via 2.4 GHz radio. Two Data-Linc SRM6310E wireless Ethernet modems were applied for that link. These units are especially appropriate for shorter, line of site applications.

Because Data-Linc Group modems are factory configured, installation and integration was trouble-free. “We had an extremely aggressive schedule,” the manufacturing technician stated. “The Data-Linc modems were a breeze to install and get on line, and we haven’t had to touch them since.” Utilization of wireless technology helped improve the capacity of the cab delivery operation, enabling even faster line speeds than previously possible. The Data-Linc modems are not affected by the generated noise in the manufacturing area, and compared to other brands of RF modems they had used in the past, provide more reliable communications due to their greater sensitivity. The superintendent was pleased, “Our ASRS cranes must deliver cabs to the assembly line just in time and in the proper sequence. No interruptions in delivery can be tolerated. The Data-Linc wireless modems have performed flawlessly for us in this critical application.“

Please contact Data-Linc at 425-882-2206 Pacific Coast Time or for assistance regarding your project or for details about the capabilities of LincView Diagnostics network management software and its appropriateness for your specific application.

Go to the Allen-Bradley Diagrams section to see diagrams of various Data-Linc Group modems interfaced with Allen-Bradley automation equipment for peer-to-peer, multi-drop, multi-point and SCADA applications. Also see other Industrial Applications.

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