India's largest car-maker makes the connection
Maruti Suzuki has also used CC-Link to update its Andon system and VTS (vehicle tracking system). Andons (from the Japanese word for lantern) are typically large electronic displays used in manufacturing plants to communicate critical production information and faults to employees so that they can take appropriate action. In the case of Maruti Suzuki, the Andon system is used to monitor, display and record conveyor and equipment stoppage information and to calculate line efficiency.
The VTS system is critical for flexibility in manufacturing, and broadcasts information on individual vehicles – such as the model and chassis details – to conveyor line equipment so that the correct parts are fitted and appropriate operations are executed at each workstation. It also helps to increase line efficiency by eliminating the need for manual interventions.
By using CC-Link remote I/O in the vehicle tracking system, cabling and hardware have been reduced by 40%, and installation times have been slashed. Previously, the VTS could handle only 4–5 signals and could not communicate with other systems. Now it can transmit up to 128 signals and can interconnect with other systems. Data captured by the VTS – such as tightening torques, fluid levels and so on – is logged for quality control and analysis in the enterprise IT system.
Maruti-Suzuki is planning to increase the amount of data handled in its plants, and to link previously separate systems. These roles are both well within the capabilities of CC-Link, whose 10Mbit communication speed allows dozens of stations to be updated in a few milliseconds. In addition, with a single bus length of up to 1.2km (13.2km with repeaters), CC-Link can also cover the large distances often encountered in automotive plants. Finally, the plant management is expecting further cost savings in wiring and installation by eliminating intermediate I/O and wiring by the using devices such as nut-runners, which connect directly to the network.