Creating an effective, adaptable and secure workspace with Internet of Things and Augmented Reality for the Automotive Industry
Fiat Chrysler Poland – FCA Polska
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the world’s seventh biggest automotive enterprise with a global reach of operations. It is responsible for design, manufacturing and sales of cars, light lorries, components and production systems all over the globe. The Group includes such automotive brands as: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Ram, SRT and Maserati, as well as Mopar, a brand of services and spare parts. COMAU (production systems), Magneti Marelli (components) and TEKSID (metal and castings) are also parts of the Group. The FCA company has been brought to life in 2014 as a merger of Fiat (established in 1899) and Chrysler (established in 1925). FCA is listed on the NY Stock Exchange (“FCAU”) and Mercato Telematico Azionario in Milan (“FCA”).
Challenges and needs
While planning introduction of production of new, ecological petrol engines in its factory in Bielsko-Biala in Poland (FCA Powertrain), Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) took notice of future service and exploitation costs of ultramodern, automated production lines. The current FCA manufacturing has to rapidly react to dynamically changing product specifications, which are constantly adjusted to fit requirements, regulations and changing markets. Therefore employees have to be constantly educated and their working environment always adapted to new component versions and new orders. At the same time the production lines are permanently adapted and modernized, resulting in the need to always keep service procedures up to date and build a service knowledgebase corresponding to a bigger and more diverse machines by the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) department, while at the same time increasing effectiveness and efficiency to reduce any resulting downtimes to a minimum. Compliance with Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) regulations is also a point of focus for the company. High expectations towards effectivity require quick execution of assigned tasks, with which following safety rules and procedures is key. Rapid information acquisition and presentation regarding hazardous areas inside a manufacturing plant without the need to physically inspect them may result in an increase in safety standards, while appropriate and effective presentation of EHS instructions is key to success. Fiat Poland was also interested in implementing the concept of Factories of the Future (FoF) and Industry 4.0 in order to become a pioneer in the realization of the aforementioned throughout the entire global enterprise while significantly improving the efficiency of the manufacturing line and reducing the number of downtimes caused by failures.
Despite the novelty of IoT and AR solutions on the Polish market, FCA decided to invest in development of these solutions with the help of the best industrial software experts from Transition Technologies PSC. It was just through the first couple of meetings that the scope of the research project was set up along with a plan to implement the elements of its results. The resulting solution created a safe and efficient working environment in the manufacturing plant thanks to scalability corresponding to multiple various positions and jobs. The project itself has been named LINEA I. The implementation of the Industry 4.0 concept has begun through support of an MRO department by implementing an IoT-based solution with a corresponding Augmented Reality toolkit for its workers. The project has been implemented with the usage of a tablet and AR glasses as a user interface, which significantly improves performing day-to-day tasks by employees. Context information is playing a key part here: every meaningfull module has been represented in a digital form, allowing elimination of paper-based instruction sets and better control of performed assignments. The integrated system utilizes data from automation systems (OPC UA) presented to the user in real-time, as well as an advanced graphical processing engine which overlays 3D images over real-world objects.
The project has received high praise during an internal innovation audit of the enterprise and appointed as a future solution for the whole Group. The directions set by the Bielsko-Biala factory will therefore soon become a corporate standard for EHS, as well as creation of new ways of accessing technical information regarding both operational parameters of a device or prediction of potential failures and replacing traditional paper-based technical documentation. Thanks to this solution FCA Powertrain is setting innovation standards amongst the whole FCA Group.
The LINEA I project, after being expanded to all automation elements on new manufacturing lines, will result in a significant decrease in service operational costs through automation and unification of service assignments and optimization of internal MRO structure, as well as internal communication. As a result, the service procedures times will be shortened through increasing their effectivity. Development of new purchase procedures in order to ensure the existence of all elements necessary to connect new machines and robots into the system directly after their installation (for example: corresponding 3D CAD images of devices) has been an unforeseen but wanted result of the project. Further development of the project and its results will continue in a two-way fashion: on one hand, as the new manufacturing lines are expanded, new machines will be included into the system. On the other hand, a technology migration process will take place to move the solution to more ergonomic AR platforms (for example Microsoft Hololens). This will allow further improvement of operational parameters such as reduction of time and number of downtimes, technical documentation access times, as well as the number of errors in procedure execution by workers. It will also open the gateway to achieve further benefits such as increased operations automation or efficiency reporting for single employees as well as whole departments and divisions. FCA is already experiencing the business value resulting from implementation of the project’s results and is looking ahead with much interest into its future.