“The reliability of Microwatt dual redundancy system has proved to be excellent, with the equipment running 24/7”
Kevin Everett MSc – Facilities Engineer at Toyota UK
Toyota Manufacturing UK is the United Kingdom manufacturing operation of Toyota, established in December 1989. The vehicle manufacturing plant at Burnaston, Derbyshire, assembles cars. On 16 December 1992, the first car rolled off the production line, which was a Carina E. Since then, production has included Avensis, Corolla, and Auris models. An engine manufacturing factory is located on Deeside, North Wales. As of June 2015, the two factories employ 3,800 staff.
The processes at Burnaston include stamping (pressing panels from rolls of steel), welding, painting, plastic mouldings (bumpers and instrument panels/dashboards) and assembly and at Deeside machining, assembly and aluminium casting.
At its fastest speed, a car can come off the end of the production line approximately every 60 seconds.
Toyota Manufacturing UK, in partnership with Rapid Electronics, organise the Toyota Technology Challenge, a national engineering and technology competition, which is aimed at secondary schools within the United Kingdom.
Toyota needed a system to inform the workers of actions the production line is taking e.g. start, stop, Kanban (just-in-time). They wanted to use music (segments) as markers.
The problem is the complexity of the requirements; shift work, overtime, shutdowns, etc.
All the ‘chimes/music had to be programmed for specific times to match up with actions on the production lines. Also times can be shifted by overtime and number of shifts per day.
Toyota’s main entrance at their Derby works
These music ‘bites’ must be at specific times to specific areas (zones), under specific conditions. Up to two simultaneous messages may be required. Timing was required to the nearest 5 seconds so was Interfaced with Rugby real time clock and is programmed by importing a spreadsheet. In late 1999 Toyota asked us to quote for the initial system via Tannoy Audix. We proposed a system and it was installed in May 2000.
We produced a version of our Automated PA controller with a ‘timetable’. The timetable was effectively a spreadsheet imported into the system. So it was easy for Toyota to timetable music or outputs or other actions at set times (with a resolution of 5 seconds). These times could then be modified by buttons selecting overtime etc. etc.
In 2004 the PA system became the controller (start/stop) of all the production lines producing 179,233 vehicles in 2013. Not bad for an automated PA.
The main thing to note is the endorsement by Toyota of the reliability of the Microwatt Opalport Automated PA. In 15 years of service at Toyota the system has never had a failure that has effected production.
In 2010 Toyota asked us to increase the resolution of the system from 5 seconds to 1 second.
Although this was not an excessively difficult task it needed to be tested on a live system before installation. Therefore we went to Derby (Toyota) in the august shutdown.
During the testing we asked why this increase in resolution was necessary. We were told it was because they had improved the startup time of the production lines from 15 seconds to 12. So they could lose 3 seconds per start/stop per production line per shift. As one car comes off the line every 30 seconds this time amounted to a lot of cars in a year.