Read how add2 helped Plastic Omnium to enhance in-line electrical testing during the manufacture of vehicle bumpers, increasing component visibility. This is achieved through the production of a fully functional, end of line production test device built on established Genix technologies. 

The problem

Automotive sub-assemblies such as bumpers and spoilers typically contain an array of electronic components from different suppliers, such as parking assist sensors, telecommunications receivers, pedestrian sensors, gesture equipment and fog lamps. As technology advances, each of these components evolve, such that separate engineering revisions come to exist that are incompatible with each other.

Following the manufacture of these sub-assemblies, it is important to ensure that the correct components have been fitted, fully connected, and with the specified engineering revisions. Given that components of the same generic type often share a form factor, in-line electrical testing is required to distinguish components that are identical to the naked eye. Such was the situation at Plastic Omnium.

Nick Towers, Manufacturing Group Leader at Plastic Omnium, explains.

“As the company assembling the parts, and as the tester of the parts in our final bumper assembly, there were no visible attributes that we were able to detect a difference in the parts”. The consequence of this was the potential to be “operating with two different levels of parts in live production within our business across the UK”.

This situation could have potentially led to incorrect configuration and constant parking assistance failure causing production lines to be halted or commercial recalls to be initiated after entering the market place.

 

The solution

add2 was contacted and asked to produce a test facility in order to identify the components within bumpers under manufacture. After a thorough requirements capture exercise involving detailed discussions between Plastic Omnium, its suppliers and its automotive OEM customer, the Genix Test Unit was developed by add2.

“Both Plastic Omnium and add2 had a very clear understanding of what we needed to do”, Towers observes; “communication with add2 was very positive and very clear at all times”.

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Genix Test Unit

The Genix Test Unit performs a number of electrical and communications tests of components at assembly stations during manufacture. It offers a high I/O count, and is easily reconfigurable through software to accommodate testing of multiple sub-assembly variants using the same physical box. This allows every piece of electrical functionality within a bumper to be tested in a single unit

Units are provided with a predefined set of test sequences which are requested from the PLC via the digital inputs to the test unit. At the end of these tests, each result is fed back via volt-free contact solid state relays.

Connection is provided to the subassembly under test via zero insertion force connectors that minimise wear to consumable parts. Connection to the assembly station PLC is provided via screw terminal from the Genix Test Unit. Test results are fed to the PLC, and can be delivered to an external GUI or hand-held device, as is convenient.

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Example Zero Insertion Force Connector

Commissioning of the Genix Test Unit is a simple matter. “We had three different suppliers of our own that were fitting and commissioning the test devices, and that appeared to be very straightforward”. add2 is happy to integrate the Genix Test Unit to ensure test procedures are in place in a timely fashion.

“There was quite a bit of support from add2 on-site to ensure that the  devices communicated effectively with our existing assembly machines”.

 

“Communication with add2 was very positive and very clear at all times”

Nick Towers, Manufacturing Group Leader, Plastic Omnium

Conclusion

Mr Towers is happy to confirm the positive impact of the Genix Test Unit.

“I personally went around every machine in the UK when they were installed last summer”, he notes; “the devices integrated into our existing machines quite easily; we had no negative feedback from our supplier base”.

Looking to the future, there is ample scope for the Genix Test Unit to be utilised for a wide range of end-of-line automotive component testing. “In the future it may be relevant for gesture systems, radar systems, lane change radar, distance radar for adaptive cruise control”.

Moreover, the Genix Test Unit is currently in active use across a range of automotive OEMs and suppliers, providing both resistive and communicative testing for components including PED sensors, airbag sensors and gesture-based vehicle security sensors.