Land Rover Warehouse Management System

Cutting edge manufacturing...

Land Rover's Paint Shop 21 is an advanced automotive facility covering over 9,300 square metres. It's three stories high, 365 metres long and features a staggering 27 kilometres of conveyor track. Paint Shop 21 can accommodate 1,400 cars and can process 75 vehicles per hour in 6 primer and 40 top coat colour variations. It processes each Land Rover car body right through the paint process - from phosphating, electro-coating, sealing and undercoating to colouring, waxing and quality control. The facility comprises three Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) controlled by Autostore, each using a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) based Store Control System. PLC-based systems are ideal for automating factory floor processes, being both robust and easy to configure.

Painted Body Store 1 (PBS1) has six cranes and holds the painted bodies before they move to final assembly hall 1: the Discovery, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport assembly lines. Painted Body Store 2 (PBS2) also has six cranes and is used as a store for a new assembly line 2 for the new Jaguar XE and Range Rover Sport bodies. Third is the Skid Store (SKS) which has three cranes. PBS1 holds 405 car bodies, PBS2 holds 284 and the SKS holds 244 Body-Skids and 61 Conveys.

The SKS store contains three aisles of empty Skids and Conveys on five levels which run on the conveyor system and carry the body through the painting process. There are four different types of skid: one each for the Defender, Range Rover, Discovery 4/Range Rover Sport and Jaguar XE. PBS1 is for the Defender, Range Rover Sport and Discovery 4 with PBS2 for the Range Rover and Jaguar XE. Each has six storage aisles that are three and two storeys high respectively, holding the appropriate vehicle bodies on skids. The PBS1 and PBS2 cranes enable the bodies to be sequenced into the product build plan and also act as a buffer store between the different assembly processes.

All three ASRS need to be able to work independently or in tandem, in full auto-mode and in assisted auto-manual mode.

First in, first out...

Paint Shop 21 is able to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Autostore's Warehouse Control System (WCS) software modules provide the critical link to the MIS-based order system as well as the Plant Environmental Management (PEMS) system that monitors all crane and conveyor systems across a facility-wide Ethernet network. All movements are managed by Autostore: connectivity around Paint Shop 21 - including the cranes - is provided by Modbus and Modbus Plus industrial networks.

Autostore warehouse control runs on AEG-Modicon PLC units, including enhanced CM1000 Basic modules with serial ports for interfacing with Premid radio frequency (RF) tag readers. The tag-readers read heat-resistant tags on all the skids as they move along the conveyors and through the three ASRS areas; they identify the precise location and identity of each skid and whether or not it is empty or carrying a body. Precision is extremely important. Conveyor system skid alignment is accurate to within plus or minus three millimeters. Each of the stores has a Schneider human/machine interface (HMI) for general control, accessing status information and maintenance or trouble-shooting.

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Automation sweats the assets...

Space management is important on the Solihull site as it is bordered by a park, residential area and Birmingham International Airport; extensive use of automation and computerisation ensure a highly efficient site footprint. With production at 75 chassis per hour, such automation also delivers output that's very quick by the standards of any manufacturer in Land Rover's class.

Autostore gives Land Rover total control of customer orders, meaning that the volume of the different cars can be altered with ease. Each car can be built to an individual customer's specification thanks to the flexible combination of manufacturing management systems. Paint Shop 21 was designed to run a PLC-based body processing system: full PLC compatibility with Autostore has made its introduction straightforward.

The key performance criterion for the system is percentage-based uptime - the minimum service level begins at 99.8 per cent. Each software module and PLC sub-system module has its own uptime log that is connected to PEMS via the Store Control System. Any faults are immediately logged by PEMS which will then prompt one of the maintenance team to investigate. Efficiency reports are then generated on a regular basis by PEMS.

Reliability and uptime...

The bottom line for Land Rover is system reliability. Solihull runs a continuous operation to feed the two main vehicle assembly halls. Paint Shop 21 is the hub of the entire production process, because all vehicle bodies have to be processed and painted before they are assembled.

Stock contingencies are pre-programmed and each ASRS system can work independently as well as collectively, automatically and manually. This means that the engineering team can cope with any necessary repairs and keep the assembly line fed. Autostore automation control is also equipped with full remote access for Central Systems & Automation's support engineers who are on call 24/7/365. This means full diagnostics checks can be made over data connection as well as complete systems management. Paint Shop 21 is a very robust facility: with high uptime and already high production levels, Autosore's power and flexibility means the facility can easily match Land Rover's planned growth targets.