Case studies

How we helped others improve their internal processes.

We focus on providing you and your company with a solution that is not just innovated, but enhances the all-around performance within your walls. Take a look at our case studies below to see how we were able to help out businesses improve their current process.

Industrial Control Systems

Berry Plastics Corporation

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The Company

Berry Plastics, founded in 1967, is a leading global manufacturer of injection-molded plastics, thermoformed products, flexible films and packaging, as well as tapes and corrosion protection products. They conduct business in North and South America, Canada, UK, Europe, and Asia.

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The Challenge

Berry Plastics’ cap machines had both obsolete & proprietary controls, thus when the cap machines broke down, there were no vendors to repair or replace them.

The Analysis

An analysis of Berry Plastics’ process indicated the old controls for their cap machines needed to be upgraded so that they could buy off-the-shelf parts and get support from local suppliers providing savings, etc.

The Solution and Result

ICSI re-engineered the controls for Berry Plastics’ cap machines. We replaced the obsolete & proprietary controls with better, modern devices that can be bought off the shelf. These changes enabled Berry Plastics to keep these machines in production, with a significant reduction in scrap.

Process Industrial Controls Application

The Challenge

The customer, an industrial supplier of raw materials, commissioned ICSi to design and implement a control system for several chemicals. The control system would be used in a wide range of chemical products used in industrial, chemical, water treatment, mining, catalyst, and other applications.

The Analysis

The System we designed called for as little operator involvement as practical, aside from the general monitoring of the system. The system also needed to be customizable to be able to change setpoints for Pressure, Temperature, Level, Flow Rates, and Gas levels.

The Solution

The final system included over 200 valves, sensors, and motors all monitored and controlled by a PLC and SCADA System to keep it running safely and smoothly with as little operator interaction as possible. The System allows the customer to view a completed history of all aspects of the process as well as customize many aspects of the process operation through the Scada software.

Robotic Assembly Poka-Yoke Cells

Kasai

The Company

Customer, a tier 1 automotive supplier, required a dynamic visual inspection system to verify the presence of various components of a vehicle door, the system would communicate in tandem with another robot that would place the part in the station, and the system should be able to verify components based on the running part number.

The Analysis

An analysis of customer requirements indicated that due to the diversity of models to be executed, inspections to be carried out, and inspection tolerances, the application of a robotic system and a vision system would be adequate tools to ensure the confirmation of the assembly specifications.


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The Solution

ICSi integrated an inspection cell composed of a compact high-speed 6-axis Yaskawa robot (GP7) and a Keyence vision system, as well as a simplified safety controller to ensure the operator safety, the robot is capable of selecting the model to inspect based on the bar code that the same vision system captures and is capable of reaching 9 different positions and a maximum of 32 vision inspections in less than 30 seconds, the HMI and PLC programming design allows adding, editing or deleting inspections without the need to make programming changes in the PLC and minimal changes in the robot program.

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The Challenge

ICSI was commissioned to design and build a test training assembly line for the Nissan battery plant in Smyrna, TN. This facility manufactures the lithium-ion batteries used in Nissan’s new Leaf electric cars.

The Analysis

The system we designed called for trainers to be able to disconnect or interrupt selected circuits inside lockable junction boxes, and then have technicians trace down and pinpoint the problems.

The Solution

The completed system included: three robots; two computerized camera inspection systems; Multiple sensors & safety systems, all set up for new technicians to train on.

The Result

Now Nissan can safely and thoroughly train its battery assembly technicians offline. One of the most complicated test systems ICSI has completed, it has exceeded expectations and has positioned ICSi for more work with Nissan.

The Challenge

Customer uses proprietary machines to collate their line of screws. These machines feed screws through a process that arranges, forms, and finally cuts into strips suitable for loading into the automatic screw system. Customer needed a vendor to build a new “state of the art” machine.

The Analysis

The machine needed to meet their existing customer specifications and incorporate functionality from other existing machines as well as improvements they had made throughout their life cycles. Several obsolete components would need to be replaced with newer components that are more readily available.

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The Solution

ICSI worked closely with customer engineers to make sure the machine was built to their specifications. Modifications were suggested and, with customer’s approval, implemented throughout the build process to improve machine function and spare parts availability. Documentation of the build was also improved with updated CAD, schematics, and BOMs. Customer now has a brand-new updated and improved machine to support increased production as well as detailed documentation to make their next build easier and faster.

Automated Guided Vehicles

Case Study – AGV Driven Rotating Trunnion

The Challenge

The customer -- a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry -- was challenged to ensure the many screws, used to fasten its subassembly together were installed correctly and efficiently. These products were being manufactured on a line which utilizes Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) driven trunnions to transport these items from station to station.

The Analysis

For both efficiency and quality assurance, it was concluded that an automatic screw insertion robot station would be the best solution. Assuming that a screw insertion robot was economically available which could accurately locate the screw holes, it was proposed to design & build a remotely triggered, rotating trunnion onto the custom designed AGVs already being supplied to the customer.

The Solution

The first objective was to find an indexing motor or servo of the desired size, torque, and voltage, which could also interface and be controlled by the existing PLC system on the AGV. To ensure proper positioning of the trunnion, a rotational encoder had to be integrated into the AGV’s control system. It then had to be determined how the AGV’s control system could be triggered remotely to rotate the trunnion. Lastly, the mechanical details of the trunnion and its rotational components needed to be designed and fabricated.

The Result

Motors, fixturing, & control modifications were prototyped and successfully integrated into the production AGVs, thus meeting the challenges raised and ensuring the client’s goals of both the quality assurance and productivity were met.

Case Study – Continuous On-the-line Charging of AGV Batteries

The Challenge

The customer utilizes Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) driven trunnions to transport its work in process between assembly stations. The power source for these units are rechargeable batteries which were being removed from the units and reenergized on chargers after each shift. This was an inefficient, time consuming, and heavy labor-intensive process. An alternative, on-line method of charging these batteries was being.

The Analysis

The batteries utilized to power the AGV’s are a special sealed “Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL)” unit chosen for its reliability & high-performance charging characteristics; however, the units are heavy, making removal & installation difficult. This activity also had a negative impact on production, especially if one of the units loses its charge during the production shift. This was in addition to the obvious ergonomic physical handling hazards. A system for maintaining the battery charge on-line would be the optimum answer.

The Solution

Quick charging systems designed specifically for these batteries were found which could engage the AGV’s when stopped. These devices utilized plugs and pneumatic cylinder actuators to connect to an AGV while held up at a station. Although this method was successful, it presented cost, reliability, safety, and cycle time challenges. With continued contemplation and research, it was theorized that floor mounted copper conductors, aligned with electrical brushes mounted under the AGVs, might prove to be simpler, more reliable, and allow for longer charge times (since the time required to extend & engage the plugs was eliminated). To accomplish this, the AGVs were modified mechanically and electrically for the underside mounted conducting brushes.

The Result

Deployment of the charging stations, with floor mounted conductor interfaces to the AGVs, eliminated the need to pull the batteries out after each shift, enhancing productivity, reducing cost, and eliminating a safety issue.

Case Study – Custom Designed Trunnion AGV

The Challenge

The customer -- a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry – wanted to utilize Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) to transfer its product from station to station on custom designed trunnions.

The Analysis

Reviewing a newly designed assembly line layout, which was configured to take advantage of recent developments in tracking, manufacturing, & inspection technologies, it was concluded that a customized configuration of the AGV and the trunnion would be required.

The Solution

ICSi and the customer had significant experience integrating an existing AGV guidance and drive system onto carts fabricated in our shop. Additionally, the customer had several used AGV systems available from decommissioned lines. It was then proposed and subsequently approved to custom design & build a special cart integrated with the favored AGV guidance & drive system. This unit was mechanically configured in consideration of both the part on its assembly mounts and the assembly line clearances.

The Result

Working with our client, while utilizing available and proven technologies, we were able to design & build a production line which took advantage of tracking and automation technologies now available to produce a product with enhanced quality assurances, increased productivity, minimal floor space, and maximized utilization of available personnel.

Case Study – Independent Indexing of an AGV Driven Assembly Line

The Challenge

The customer, a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry, had recently modified its conveyor driven assembly line to one utilizing AGV driven trunnions to transport the product under manufacture from station to station, on a line with approximately 30 assembly stations. As implementation of this new system progressed, the line’s output frequently lacked the ability to meet production demands. ICSi was commissioned to assist with increasing the units assembled per hour.

The Analysis

This AGV driven assembly line modification was originally designed such that movement between stations was only triggered once all the stations were complete. Then, all the units were indexed simultaneously. This interlocking had one major negative impact on cycle time. The slowest station operator for that cycle, which could vary from one cycle to the next, would hold up the whole line. There is a myriad of issues which could arise at any station on any cycle, with no way for the system to absorb this delay.

The Solution

It was theorized if the AGVs could be independently advanced from each station when completed, while also allowing queuing of the units between the stations, significant improvements in efficiency could be realized. To accomplish this without adding additional complexity & devices to the control system (i.e.: RFID technologies), sophisticated PLC logic for tracking & shifting the data associated with each unit had to be written, tested, and commissioned.

The Result

With successful testing and commissioning, and some minimal training of the operators, we were able to independently index and que AGVs between the stations. Productivity improvements of over 40% were realized almost immediately.

Case Study – Optimized AGV Performance Utilizing PLC’s

The Challenge

The customer, a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry, utilizes Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) driven trunnions to transport its product under manufacture from station to station, on a line with approximately 30 assembly stations. As improvements on the line were attempted to enhance efficiency, it was found that the motion control options in AGV units, as supplied from the factory, where too limited. ICSi was commissioned to enhance performance of the AGV movements on the line.

The Analysis

This AGV units utilized by the client were provided with basic capabilities for starting, stopping, acceleration, & speed. A control board was provided from the factory to electronically oversee these functions. No option was provided to give the user the ability to configure or program modifications.

The Solution

It was concluded that the added dynamics desired of the AGVs could be obtained if the controller board was replaced with a small PLC. Doing this required first understanding how the controller board utilized the various signals provided, and at what voltages, then finding the appropriate PLC to replace its functionality.

The Result

A compact Omron PLC was found which could be powered by the available voltages & signals on the AGV. This unit was then used to replace the controller board along with adding some sensors & signals, to improve the dynamics of the AGVs on the line. Movement between stations was not only increased but stopping and turning motions were more precisely controlled.

Case Study – Solid State AGV Track Switch

The Challenge

The customer, a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry, utilizes Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) driven trunnions to transport its product being assembled from station to station. Increased production needs had exceeded the capabilities of the end-of-line tester.

The Analysis

The client’s end-of-line tester was not capable of the through-put necessary to meet the production objectives for this assembly line. It was proposed that two parallel testers be utilized, but to accomplish this a lane switch would be required to divert AGVs with the finished units to one tester or the other. Since the AGVs followed a magnetic track, the divert switch would have to effectively rotate a magnetic track back & forth toward the desired lane for each specific unit.

The Solution

For reliability & simplicity, the prospect of using electromagnets was proposed, which was then researched. A manufacturer was then found who could produce units to the dimensions & voltages needed. These units were ordered, received, and integrated into a space cut into the floor where the AGV lane switches were needed. These devices were then integrated into the line’s PLC control system.

The Result

The AGV lane switches were installed and commissioned successfully, significantly increasing the assembly line’s through-put.

SCADA – Automated Quality Control

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The Company

Established in 1938, Marelli is a global comprehensive automotive parts manufacturer, bringing a fresh breeze of new value to the world. They satisfy the optimum global procurement needs of automobile manufacturers with quality and speed.

The Challenge

Due to the growing demand for variation unit-to-unit at the Nissan automotive plant in Smyrna, TN. ICSI was tasked with developing a quick and easy way to make modifications to the assembly process.

The Analysis

An analysis of Marelli’s automotive assembly process indicated an environment with the potential for operator error due to multiple variations of similar parts and the need for a flexible, user-friendly fail-proof traceability system.

The Solution

ICSI developed a user-customizable Parts Determining System (PDS) that utilizes bar code scanning, label printing, pick lights, torque readings, and screw counts to create a zero-error assembly and documentation system.

The Result

The ICSI PDS helps manufacturers determine and verify the correct part when there are variations of similar parts used. It assists Engineering and Maintenance to make updates quickly and to easily to reduce downtime. It also allows Quality Control to determine real root cause when issues occur. For example: what part was picked, what was a given torque on a part, was the system in by-pass during an incident, etc.