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Land Rover brings in a pneumatics expert to avoid glitches

01 March, 2005

Land Rover brings in a pneumatics expert to avoid glitches

In an unusual move, Land Rover seconded a pneumatics expert from Festo to join the engineering development team that worked on the new production line for its recently launched Discovery 3 vehicle. Martin Brooks, a Festo automotive specialist, helped the team to devise a strategy to ensure that the pneumatics designs for the body-in-white and final assembly jigs were optimised for reliability and maintainability.

Among the tactics the team adopted were: a common pneumatic parts list; advising the line`s automation builders on good pneumatics design practice to ensure reliability and safety; and agreeing the mechanical design and control architectures during the development cycle. All of the pneumatic equipment was inspected for conformance and quality at the design stage, and also as it arrived on-site for commissioning.

The Interbus-S fibre-optic fieldbus was used for most of the pneumatic equipment, apart from a few Profibus nodes that were implemented for special reasons such as compatibility with existing equipment.

"Managing a large-scale pneumatics automation project from the end user`s perspective has been a valuable learning experience," says Brooks. "The project demanded close co-operation with the machine-builder OEMs to ensure that the extreme reliability that automotive manufacturers seek was built into the automation designs."

Land Rover`s strategy appears to have paid dividends - in the first few months of the line`s operation, there have been almost no problems.

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