Vol.1 CC-Link and CC-Link IE The Most Widely-Used Networks in Asia
CC-Link Partner Association & FAW Car Co., Ltd. Part 1
Production systems are strengthened to respond to market diversification.
"Keys of evolution are in the hands of automation technology"
China FAW (First Automobile Works) Corp. (hereafter: China FAW) is the biggest automobile manufacturer in China. FAW Car Co., Ltd. (hereafter: FAW Car), an affiliated company of China FAW, has been aggressively adopting an automated production system to achieve both high quality and high productivity. The company, employing what they claim is the world's highest level automated production system, has demonstrated a strong commitment to CC-Link. We interviewed Mr. Wang Yuchun, one of the executives in charge of the production system, to ask about CC-Link.
FAW Car is a wholly owned subsidiary of China FAW. It was formed in 1997 and celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2012. Currently, FAW Car produces private-label automobiles including Hongqi (its flagship and the highest class model in China), Besturn, and Oley. In addition to these, FAW Car also manufactures the Mazda 6 and 8 as part of an alliance with Mazda. FAW Car currently operates three main production factories; the 1st factory, the 2nd factory, and the Hongqi-dedicated factory. Additionally, FAW Car plans to build a new factory, the 3rd factory.
The company is trying to establish a production system that can be flexibly adopted for a complex production plan while increasing its productivity and pursuing high quality. "Recently, the demand for automobiles in the Chinese market has kept increasing, and consumers' needs are getting more and more varied. Our aim is to respond to this situation." Mr. Wang said. He emphasizes that quality has the highest priority in the endeavour. "We pay attention to quality even when planning arrangements of equipment and staff at a factory startup. After production is started, we strictly manage our equipment, materials, components, and staff arrangements based on our quality control system." he continued. To deliver that, FAW Car has its own unique production system, the Hongqi Production System (HPS). HPS was developed independently by FAW Car incorporating concepts inspired by its partnerships with Toyota and Mazda.
"New Energy" & "Digitalization" in the new factory
Satisfying both high productivity and high quality is a great challenge in factories. To meet this challenge, automation technology plays a significant role. "Automated systems are important when a new factory is built. Therefore, we employ state-of-the-art automated systems in our plants." said Mr. Wang. For example, 200 robots are used in the welding line of the 2nd factory, which started operation in 2010. According to him, a factory using so many robots in one process is rare in China. "Employing robots has reduced the number of staff on this process by half; however, the productivity has doubled. Reducing human operations has helped to reduce errors, which has in turn improved the quality", he said.
FAW Car will take a more advanced approach for the 3rd factory. "As we establish a new factory, we always set a theme and try to employ a new technology according to the theme to advance the whole concept of the factories. The theme for the 1st factory was "Standardized Factory", and the 2nd was "Automated Factory". For the 3rd factory we set two themes, which are "New Energy" and "Digitalized"." he said.
At the 1st factory, the operations and processes were standardized to improve the quality and productivity. The automated system employed in the 2nd factory was more advanced than in the 1st factory, improving productivity while maintaining quality. The new 3rd factory is positioned as a production base of environmentally-friendly automobiles, and energy saving is a key goal. Furthermore, FAW Car plans to computerize all the factories. "We will automate more processes using the latest technologies and, at the same time, enhance the linkage between the production equipment using network technologies. We expect this to improve the productivity and quality. Presently, we are discussing the details on how to realize these ideas. Furthermore, we will improve the information system so that the development and production departments can cooperate closely." Mr. Wang said. FAW Car will create an enhanced production system satisfying customers' needs while improving the production efficiency.
CC-Link contributes to "Digitization"
Mr. Wang says that industrial networks play important roles in advanced automation. "Our affiliates develop host information systems, and we have been actively configuring an advanced industrial network system in cooperation with them."
According to him, the factories of FAW Car employ several industrial networks of which CC-Link is the most widely used (see below).
"We first brought in CC-Link in 2004. In all of the 1st, 2nd, and Hongqi-dedicated factories, CC-Link is playing an active role. We will adopt CC-Link in the new 3rd factory too."
Mr. Wang also says that the factories of FAW Car face many issues for automation, such as linkages between production lines and between machines. To solve those issues, FAW Car will widely adopt effective automation technologies such as CC-Link. "We will need to integrate the information system and the production system to streamline the production system further. We hope vendors will suggest solutions to establish such advanced systems. The Ethernet-based integrated network "CC-Link IE", which is introduced this time, is capable of transmitting large volumes of data at the high speed of 1Gbit/s. CC-Link IE will help us establish an advanced system. We expect that CC-Link IE will also contribute to improve the reliability of production systems." he said.
Mr. Wang YuchunFAW Car Co., Ltd.
Deputy General Manager
Ms. Naomi NakamuraCC-Link Partner Association Director
- CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA)