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DETROIT CENTER TOOL UNVEILS FLEXIBLE ASSEMBLY SYSTEM

 DETROIT CENTER TOOL UNVEILS FLEXIBLE ASSEMBLY SYSTEM
 DETROIT, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Detroit Center Tool, Inc. today


introduced a new flexible assembly system capable of producing different automobile models, including prototypes, on the same line, thus eliminating the need for production shutdowns for model changeovers or tooling maintenance.
 The patented system, called Permaflex, will allow automakers to respond quickly to changes in market demand simply by adjusting the levels of production between multiple models on a single line, to make the cars customers want.
 This capability to produce more than one model and its variations in a plant also will make it possible to combine production of low-volume, niche vehicles in one plant, and to introduce new models into production without having to shut down a plant for changeover.
 The Permaflex system was developed jointly by Detroit Center Tool, one of the nation's largest suppliers of turnkey automated welding and assembly systems, and Classic Design, Inc., of Troy, Mich., a large mechanical and electrical design firm that specializes in automotive body shop assembly systems.
 Permaflex is a non-synchronous, permanently installed manufacturing system that uses quick-change workstations and a flexibly tooled transporter. "The system produces more consistent quality, because all of the work is performed in the tooling, not on a carrier," said Bronce Henderson, president of Detroit Center Tool.
 Maintenance downtime can be eliminated because the system's interchangeable tooling permits all maintenance to be performed off- line, while production continues using back-up tooling. The off-line maintenance also allows for increases in the number of shifts -- because it eliminates the need for a maintenance shift -- and the number of operating days in the plant, reducing the cost per unit when plants are running below their capacities.
 With the Permaflex assembly system, changeovers can be accomplished without stopping production or dropping below the required total plant production rate simply by reducing the output of one model as the production of a new model is increased.
 The phasing in of new models into production can eliminate the potential $100 million cost of changeover downtime in a $1 million-a-day plant. In such a changeover, removal of old equipment and installation of new can take 16 weeks, and the additional pre-production launch period to bring the plant back up to full production can take as long as another eight weeks.
 The initial cost of the equipment and installation is expected to be at least 20 percent less than conventional, less-flexible approaches because the Permaflex system uses common components throughout that can be built or purchased in quantity at one time.
 Operating costs are reduced because of the reduction of downtime, ease of maintenance, simplicity of training and reduction of depreciation charges.
 The Permaflex system is made up of three elements:
 The first is the core, or flexible transport system. This can be either a continuous-drive, power-and-free conveyor or an Electrified Monorail System (EMS). Both use common universal support hooks, designed to easily accept interchangeable product carriers. The product is shuttled between independent work operations synchronously or asynchronously, as well as held in process buffers, if required.
 The use of a flexible transport system allows the user to expand up, over and around a plant -- not just in a straight line, as with conventional systems -- affording complete flexibility to the system. Its asynchronous nature allows the transfer to work completely independent of the other stations.
 The second element, the cell, is a multi-position rotate unit, or turntable, that can accommodate mixed model runs by interchanging assembly tools between the products by locating tools into and out of the workstation. A table carries the selected model locating tool to raise the product from its carrier and position it for assembly in the tool. Idle fixtures are presented off-line for preventive maintenance or prototype tryout, without disturbing production.
 The third element, the link, is a series of distributed work cell controllers united by an integrator core, or transport, controller for central monitoring. The system allows for individual work cell tryout and diagnostics, but also tracks product and monitors machine status.
 Because it constantly monitors machine status, complicated stand- alone data-gathering systems are avoided. Single operations, or groups of operations, are controlled with distributed processors, allowing individual tryout and diagnostics without the added complication of a supervisory control system.
 -0- 11/12/91
 /CONTACT: Paul Dittmer of Detroit Center Tool, 313-839-9800; or Mike Chapp or Don Durocher of Durocher & Company, Inc., 313-259-7414, for Detroit Center Tool/ CO: Detroit Center Tool, Inc.; Classic Design, Inc. ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: ML -- DE016 -- 3515 11/12/91 13:52 EST
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 12, 1991
Words:758
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