Automated manufacturing revs up Nissan plant

March 1, 2007
To achieve successful production of full-size vehicles at a new plant in Canton, Miss., Nissan North America replicated its flexible automation systems

To achieve successful production of full-size vehicles at a new plant in Canton, Miss., Nissan North America replicated its flexible automation systems from its plant in Smyrna, Tenn. — which includes cell-, machine- and plant-wide automation from GE Fanuc, a unit of GE Infrastructure. Nissan's assembly plant in Canton produces 400,000 vehicles per year at full capacity. The plant uses progressive automation technology in all aspects of production, such as monitoring and controlling processes in the paint shop and tracking production as well as environmentally friendly incineration systems and cost-effective energy management.

Both plants use Proficy Tracker and HMI/SCADA Cimplicity software from GE Fanuc in their Production Management Control System (PMCS) to add as much intelligence to the manufacturing floor as possible. Cimplicity controls all data transfer, and the system's flexibility allows the team to connect to and span the entire operation. The PMCS at Canton has more than 1.2 million I/O points to control production smoothly. It tracks and routes vehicles and parts, delivers information to more than 150 devices, moves vehicles from body assembly to paint shop and final assembly, and broadcasts messages.

The GE Fanuc team designed the PMCS application and integrated Nissan's stringent ordering processes, tight supplier clustering requirements, and flexible manufacturing processes. The team implemented the system on high availability components from EMC, Dell, Microsoft, and GE - including supervisory, production management and HMI software as well as VersaMax PLCs, Proficy Machine Edition software, and more than 300 different plantfloor operator stations. The solution closely integrates with the HMI and production tracking and routing software, Proficy Tracker, and Microsoft's DNA and .NET technology. GE also supplied the floor level integration and installation of PLCs, sensors, workstations, and associated cabinets and wiring.

With the system providing as much intelligence as possible about the factory floor, Nissan has been able to increase line speeds, handle varying model mixes, and decrease equipment downtime.

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