Pune based B&R Industrial Automation offers smart manufacturing solutions for maximising productivity in automotive shop floors.

Story by:
Deven Lad

The automotive factories of the future are expected to be driven by integrated automation. While concepts like ‘Just-In-Time’ management of inventory system that exists today, help align raw materials with production schedules, integrated automation is the need of the hour. Both machines and assembly lines are required to be connected for seamless operations at shopfloors. Pune based B&R Industrial Automation (B&R) believes it has the right tools to address the void. Its solutions are claimed to integrate machines and assembly lines on a shop floor seamlessly. Using advanced automation technology the company claims to maximise the productivity of an entire manufacturing line. Automation backed solutions, it is believed, can help the shopfloors at Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and ancillaries to attain the desired levels of agility and flexibility in order to realise on-demand manufacturing. The company’s product range also offers solutions to reduce the downtime, lower frequency of ad-hoc failures, improve changeover efficiency and set real-time data-based predictive maintenance schedules. Averred Sivaram PV, Non-Executive Chairman of B&R Industrial Automation India, “The focus of the Indian automotive industry today is more towards an increase in diversity of applications rather than a temptation to obtain and deploy new or latest gadgets.” Expressed Sivaram that the Integrated Automation solutions provider had over 35 years of experience in the domain giving it the confidence to deploy scalable solutions and cutting-edge technology from its portfolio.

The next-generation Industrial Transport technology SuperTrak.

The Company gave a sneak preview of just that at the recently concluded Automation Expo 2019 held at Bombay Exhibition Centre (BEC), in Mumbai. With advanced automation as the underlying theme, the technology walls at the B&R booth caught our attention. B&R drew attention to a suite of services, solutions and products like ACOPOStrak, Integrated machine vision, edge architectures, digital twin and asset performance monitor. The next-generation Industrial Transport technology SuperTrak displayed by the company, for instance, makes use of magnet technology to guide individually controllable shuttles along a track using long stator linear motors. It is scalable, offers space savings and is easily adaptable. Process control systems like APROL Solutions come bundled with OEM Licenses for Control Computer (CC). With its suite of solutions for the metal industry, the company claims to offer suitable technology for foundry and tooling of engines, blocks, turbochargers and crankshafts.

The B&R Automation Solutions wall for Machine and Factory.

The company also highlighted vendor-independent, open communication protocols OPC UA, Ethernet POWERLINK and openSAFETY. Through IO-Link, a short distance, bi-directional, digital, point-to-point, wired (or wireless), industrial communications networking standard, digital sensors and actuators, explained a product head, are connected to either a type of industrial Fieldbus or a type of industrial Ethernet. It forms the basis of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), an extension of the Internet of Things (IoT) 4.0 standard that finds application in automotive industries and applications. The resultant Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, big data and machine learning are all claimed to offer enhanced levels of reliability and operational efficiency.

Among other solutions on offer are a suitable fit to the integration of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems customised for varied business use cases. Open communication for Industry 4.0, business Intelligence, energy monitoring, scalable, powerful and rugged industrial PCs, customised HMI products can help manufacturers with integrated and web-based diagnostics. Technologies for presses, metal cutting, bending and roll-forming are developed in-house at the company. B&R also offers hardware and software solutions for fast and easy development of mechatronic machines.

For Light-weighting

Light-weighting with its set of benefits like fuel-efficiency requires manufacturers to ensure material composition to comply with the requisite safety standards. To help address the issues faced while bonding structural elements like composites and low-density metals, automated solutions can help ease tasks at assembly stations by facilitating the communication between multiple assembly lines depending on the assembly model and the conveyor systems. Mathematical modelling and simulations are used in the early stages of design and development. This helps significantly reduce production lifecycle of the vehicle and in turn to shorten of the development time of a new model. The models are known to be generated from the data gathered through simulated kinematic and dynamic behaviour of individual components or entire modules in the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) based systems. The company also offers advanced solutions for the production of plastics, textile, wood, glass, and electronics among other such ancillaries in the vehicular production chain.

Cloud-based applications

The company’s Asset Performance Monitor (APM) is claimed to be the first cloud application based on ABB Ability, ABB’s unified, and cross-industry offering of digital solutions. Claiming to offer a reliable overview of all machines in the field, it facilitates identification of potential improvements and helps take the service operations to the next level. This is considered to be crucial when unlocking new business models and revenue streams. Globally the APM churns out data on metrics like production rate, energy consumption and temperature. OEMs can also see their machines being operated and can monitor real-time status paving the way for scheduled preventive maintenance at regular intervals. Suites like Automation Studio 4 are claimed to help optimise the development workflow and further accelerate time-to-market. B&R Automation Studio 4 utilises OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) for its direct connection to the plant management level. A bidirectional interface with the database system of the ECAD tool, EPLAN Electric P8, helps synchronise electrical and hardware configurations to avoid redundant or inconsistent data entry. Integration of MCAD designs and plans for hydraulic and pneumatic components is also made feasible by the company.

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