1996-10-01

Open Architecture PC Based Controls in the Automotive Manufacturing Context 962561

This paper outlines open architecture PC (personal computer) based controls for automotive manufacturing environment. Generally a PC based control system utilizes DOS (or similar operating system) based computers (Industrially hardened AT or compatible computer), instead of a PLC (programmable logic controller), to operate machinery, and control program execution. It is based on an open architecture, allowing the ease of selecting any vendor platform, and allowing complete exchanges between platforms, without costly re-development and conversion down time. With factory floor networks and sensor buses, I/O operability has become very standardized. Information, and action can be fed backwards and forwards, to allow devices to react to messages in a simplified fashion. Reduced wiring costs, and high speed make such networks viable options for the manufacturing design groups. Automotive throughput has been seen to increase by two-folds with such innovative exercises. Remote messaging units, I/O scanners, VGA displays add flexibility, speed, improved quality and help control costs in strategic manufacturing launches.
Usability of automation equipment has been woefully underemphasized in the automotive manufacturing industry. However, with the recognition of usability, and simplifying operator-interfaces, the need to push open architecture based PC controls in these environs has arrived. Also, proprietary control systems can be done away with, by using device networks, and unbundling I/O from various interfaces- leading to connectivity, interoperability and seamless integration of different suppliers' products. The promising era of PC based controls offers a visible and achievable goal of better manufacturing strategies, improved processes, and stronger enterprises.

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