Monday, April 26, 2010

Ford Increases Its Local Supplier Base In India

Automotive companies continue to push efforts to localize their supply bases when serving global markets, often at a rate that appears significantly higher than other industries. This makes sense for a number of reasons, starting with the ability to create a natural hedge in buying materials and selling goods in the same currency. But the real reason for buying locally often comes down to a combination of the cost advantage of local suppliers, government incentives (or requirements) to source locally due to offset requirements and the added expense of importing supplies from an inherently longer supply chain. In India, Ford is one of the companies leading the local sourcing charge.

According to the above-linked article, "Ford India's commitment to launch a new product in the country every 12-18 months will see the company strengthening its domestic supplier base ... The carmaker's latest offering, Ford Figo, is a case in point. With an eye on capturing the thriving small car market, the product has been competitively priced with about 85 per cent of its components procured from domestic suppliers."


Source :
Author: Jason  Busch

Thursday, April 15, 2010

IT Adoption Helps Indian Manufacturing Industry In Operational Efficiencies

Manufacturing organisations have multiple functional needs and technologies can be broadly mapped under horizontal and vertical dimensions. Business IT enablers such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems have reached a higher level of adoption as general business IT tools of the manufacturing.

The prevalent technologies vary across functions in the organisations. At the shop floor level, CNC (computer numerically controlled), PLC (programmable logic controls), and HMI (human machine interface) provide the industrial automation technologies that serve in the automated control of the physical manufacturing.

More advanced users have matured into centralised plant operations control with SCADA technologies. In terms of product design and manufacturing process design, 3D design, PLM (product lifecycle management), and digital manufacturing are evolving in adoption cycle from the nascent stage of 2D design platform.

Very advanced users, though a few, have evolved to use complete plant modelling and simulation, with virtual commissioning and advanced tools such as process simulate, factory flow, factory CAD and so on. Here, practically before a single rupee is invested in physical plant infrastructure, the entire model and operations can be visualised on different what-if business scenarios.

In the horizontal functions, ERP (enterprise resource planning) has a mature adoption curve, while SCM (supply chain management) systems are in mid stage of maturity in adoption. Very progressive companies have looked at vertical application integrations, between the shop floor and business systems, to provide competitive advantage and have adopted manufacturing execution systems (MES) and manufacturing intelligence solutions.


Bajaj Auto Cut Cost Through Outsourcing

Cutting costs by radically changing manufacturing processes over half a decade—initially at its factory in Chakan, near Pune, and later at other facilities—was the reason the country’s second largest maker of motorcycles remained in the black despite the sales plunge.

The feat involved the way the auto maker, known primarily for its ubiquitous scooters, designed and produced motorcycles. It decided to massively outsource the manufacture of parts to a core group of suppliers, thus cutting down heavily on variable costs.

Kevin D’sa, vice-president of finance at Bajaj, credits the company’s ability to defend profit margins to this move. At present, 72% of the firm’s costs to sales are variable, while fixed costs are at 6%, he said. The remaining 22% is reflected as revenue minus cost of sales and operating expenses.

“This protects the company in the event of a slowdown or downturn and resultant volume contraction,” D’sa said.

The move also improved manpower productivity by five times since 2002, and reduced Bajaj’s suppliers from 800 to 185. Today, just 15 vendors supply 75% of the components used at its Pantnagar facility in Uttarakhand. At Chakan, 50 suppliers cater to 100% of its requirements.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wire Less Control Communication Reduces Installation And Maintenance Cost in EOT Cranes

Wireless control communication reduces installation and maintenance costs in overhead crane operations

Overhead cranes are used around the world for moving cargo containers, crates and other materials to different locations in warehouses, train yards, and shipping ports. Controlling the speed and direction of the cranes is of utmost importance to prevent collisions and damage to either the cranes or the materials being moved.

The operator is stationed either in a booth mounted on the crane or on the ground with a remote control pendant. In either location, accurate feedback from the crane is essential to determine its position and speed.

This feedback is typically provided by sensors mounted on the crane to detect the distance and position relative to a reference point. Alternatively, an encoder may be used to count pulses. The outputs of the sensors or encoders are transmitted to displays or programmable logic controllers (PLC) through cables or wires.

Cable Stress Increases Maintenance Cost and Failure Risk

As the crane moves throughout the work area, these cables are continuously flexed and bent, creating a critical maintenance issue. Many overhead cranes use flexible conduit or tracks to reduce the stress of the flexing on the cables. Some use loops in the cables and wires to minimize movement during the flexing. But even with these solutions, the cables and wires are at risk of failure and eventually need to be replaced.

Wireless Communication Eliminates Long Cable Runs

Wireless I/O devices, like the SureCross DX70 and DX80 from Banner Engineering Corp., are being used increasingly in both new crane designs and retrofit installations. Eliminating the cables and wires decreases both the cost of installation of the sensors and encoders and the cost of maintenance on the overhead cranes.

In one of the many applications of wireless control, a manufacturer of sheet metal rolls and metal plates uses an overhead crane controlled from the floor of the warehouse. The location of the crane is monitored by using 2 retro-reflective laser sensors. One sensor measures the (X) location along the length of the warehouse, and the second measures the (Y) location of the crane along the width.

The two sensors provide analog outputs connected to numeric LED displays that indicate the crane position in both the X and Y axes of movement. The operator of the crane reads the information from the displays to correctly position the overhead crane to pick up and place the metal rolls or plates in the proper locations.

The retro-reflective laser sensors each give a 4-20 mA analog output, which is connected to an analog input on the wireless I/O device. The wireless device checks the analog output of the sensors as many as 8 times per second to monitor the position of the overhead crane. Since the wireless device and both sensors are mounted on the moving crane, very short runs of cable are needed to connect them and they do not bend or flex.

The wireless device transmits the analog output information to a second wireless I/O device that is installed next to the digital displays. This device has 2 analogue outputs that are connected to the digital display inputs, one showing the X location of the overhead crane, and the second showing the Y location. Based on the digital readouts, the operator uses the remote control pendant to move the crane to the correct location.

Compatible with Many I/O and Control Devices

In addition to discrete and analog I/O, industrial wireless networks also allow communication via RS485 and RS232 serial communication, and Ethernet TCP/IP communication. This allows the wireless networks to interface with many different types of I/O devices, as well as PLCs and computers.

Signal integrity is important in all wireless networks. Some concerns when using wireless signals are that objects might block the signal or that other radio sources in the area could interfere. These are valid concerns and are accounted for with the design of modern wireless I/O networks.

The use of frequency hopping spread spectrum and time division multiple access protocols prevent much of the interference from other radio sources and objects. Some wireless I/O networks also include a communication or link loss indication and an output default condition that prevents crane operation if the signal is lost. These features result in robust, reliable wireless communications.

The use of the wireless I/O devices saves money in three ways:

◦During control system installation there is no need for long runs of cable.

◦Maintenance costs and system downtime are reduced because there is virtually no risk of broken cables.

◦Reliable location information transmitted by the wireless devices reduces the risk of collisions. This reduces costs for replacing damaged materials or parts of the overhead crane.
Author :Lee Kielblock
Source :
Manufacturers :  Banner Engineering India Pvt Ltd, Pune 411 016. Tel: 020-66405624. Fax: 91-20-66405623. Email: sales india@
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