Innovation ensures easy ride for car manufacturer

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Delphi Automotive Systems has designed an innovative picking process to meet the challenge of supplying, in assembly line sequence, the correct suspension module for each corner of more than 5,200 vehicles per week.

Delphi Corporation supplies mobile electronics and transport systems, including powertrain, safety, steering, thermal, and controls & security systems, electrical/electronic architecture, and in-car entertainment technologies. It reported sales of $26.4 billion in 2006.

It supplies suspension systems to an Oxford-based major car manufacturer and lean manufacturing initiatives mean that suppliers must provide just-in-time deliveries of pre-assembled systems directly to their production lines.

Delphi delivers small, multiple batches of suspension systems, as they are required in the correct assembly sequence, as each new vehicle is built to customer order, with its own unique specifications, rather than built-to-stock. Out of every 1,000,000 cars that roll off the production line, only ten will be identical.

Working in partnership with TPL Labels, a provider of custom labels, auto-identification and data capture solutions, Delphi reorganised its shop floor into specific lanes designated by the final destination of the suspension module on the vehicle: front-left, front-right, rear-left, rear-right.

Delphi’s Luton plant is connected electronically to the car manufacturer’s assembly line management system. It prepares batch deliveries using a combination of a truck-mounted Datalogic Rhino-Net rugged mobile computer, DS4600A fixed position laser barcode scanner, and Datalogic Powerscan M8300 industrial hand-held barcode reader.

The operator moves along the picking lane and is told which suspension module is required by the Rhino-Net mobile computer. Having picked the suspension module, the operator places it on a vertical arm where its identifying barcode is automatically scanned.

Once the suspension module is identified as the correct part, it is placed in a customised storage system on the truck. Each compartment of the storage system is individually numbered and assigned a corresponding barcode.

Having placed the suspension module in a storage compartment, the operator scans the barcode to positively identify that the right unit has been picked and placed in the correct compartment prior to shipping.

Delphi chose the Powerscan M8300 for a combination of reasons, including its rugged construction, ergonomic design, 3GL good-read feedback system, and reading performance. The system operates using Datalogic’s proprietary Star system narrow band RF.

Delphi assembles and delivers the suspension modules to the automotive manufacturer ready to be sequentially unloaded from the container for attachment directly onto the vehicles as they move down the assembly line. This supply-in-line sequence process enables the company to meet its customers needs through the coordination of its own manufacturing processes and that of its customer.

For the automotive manufacturer, Delphi’s supply-in-line sequence process means greatly reduced line-side storage, simpler, more efficient manufacturing logistics, increased production flexibility and lower costs.

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