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Innovation ensures easy ride for major car manufacturer

Supplying advanced suspension systems to an Oxford-based major car manufacturer, Delphi Automotive Systems ensures the right components are supplied to the assembly line, in the right sequence, as they are needed.

As a result of lean manufacturing initiatives designed to reduce assembly costs, automotive manufacturers require that suppliers provide just-in-time deliveries of pre-assembled systems directly to their production lines. Delphi Automotive Systems delivers small, multiple batches of suspension systems, as they are required. This means the automotive manufacturer can minimise inventory levels and improve operational efficiency. What is more, Delphi must deliver their suspension systems in the correct assembly sequence, as each new vehicle is built to customer order, with its own unique specifications, rather than built-to-stock. In fact, out of every 1,000,000 cars that roll off the production line, only 10 will be identical.

To successfully 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 designed an innovative picking process. Working in partnership with TPL Labels Ltd, a specialist 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.

Connected electronically to the automotive manufacturers assembly line management system, Delphi's Luton plant 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 (formerly Dragon Mobile) industrial hand-held barcode reader.

Mounted on an electric pallet truck, Delphi and TPL devised a system whereby the operator moves along the picking lane and is instructed as to which suspension module is required by the Datalogic Rhino-Net mobile computer. Having picked the suspension module, the operator places it on a vertical arm where its identifying barcode is automatically scanned by a DS4600A.

Once the suspension module is identified as the correct part, it is placed in a customised 'pigeon hole' 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 Datalogic Powerscan M8300 (formerly Dragon Mobile) for a combination of reasons, including its extremely rugged construction (IP65 rating and 2m drop resistance), ergonomic design, 3GL good read feedback system, and superior reading performance. Using Datalogic's proprietary STAR System narrow band RF (433MHz or 910MHz), the Powerscan M8300 (formerly Dragon Mobile) offers reliable, secure data transfer without Wi-Fi interference, or the constraints and hazards of a tethered device.

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 customer's exacting 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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