Ford Powertrain Standardizes on PROFINET

  • April 03, 2012
  • News
April 2012
By Bill Lydon, Editor
Michael Bastian, Global Controls Manager at Ford Motor Company (Powertrain Division) shared why and how they have standardized on PROFINET at the PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum on Feb 23-24, 2012 at the Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.
Bastian has 25 years of experience at Ford starting as a co-op student that included a wide range of areas within the company, ranging from product conception and design to production including controls, automation, product design, and vehicle operations.  In 2008 he moved back into the Ford Powertrain group as controls manager and faced some major tasks.
Michael Bastian described how PROFINET has been an enabler for Ford’s manufacturing architecture. “When I started in 2008 the organization was really struggling,” said Bastian.  They had about 30 engineers and he found things out of focus and disorganized in their processes and how they operated. Since 2008 he has developed goals and strategies, doubled the size of the organization, and implemented changes for improvements and “driving true control strategies in the organization.” He set out principles for the group to achieve better efficiency and performance including standardization and reviewing controls from a systems perspective. Bastian defined the overall goal by saying, “Deliver powertrain programs with safe and reliable control solutions at the lowest cost.” “Easy to say and hard to do.”   He started by defining core principles including:
  • Standardization
  • Thinking about systems rather than focusing on individual machines
  • Evaluating total cost
  • Developing people by making sure they are trained correctly and are knowledgeable which also improves credibility
  • Ability to maintain systems
  • Moving technology forward - selectively making sure not to put new technology into plants that have not been tried and proven robust
Bastian described three major focuses in the last 2 years, namely standardization, flexibility, and acceleration.  He explained that standardization has been preached to them by John Fleming, Group Vice President of Global Manufacturing, who many times has stated, “I want things standard, I want so much standardization it goes down to the lead in the pencils.” Bastian explained that driving controls standards is difficult to do especially with tier one equipment suppliers. He noted that once you achieve standardization there are big gains in operational efficiency, eventual reduction in engineering resource requirements, quicker products to market, easier continuous quality improvement, and simplified global expansion. Standardization is directly connected to global expansion with Powertrain doing new green field installations in China, India, and Brazil. The ability to replicate systems with consistency, no matter who is the tier one supplier, is a large time and cost saver.   Using the same systems over time reduces the investment requirements and the standardization on PROFINET’s PROFIenergy is an enabler for energy efficiency.
Bastian described mandates they have to be flexible running a two plus one architecture strategy. This means production of two powertrains and two engines and two transmissions in the system. The plus one is throwing in a third item to produce and launching it with zero production loss. Bastian stressed, “From a complexity of automation perspective that is a challenge because you need to be able to build an I4 (Inline 4 cylinder engine) and a V6 on the same assembly line.” “You need a lot of automation to support that product flexibility.” Another focus is asset reuse by retrofitting machinery and equipment that is 10-15 years old where the mechanics are good but the control systems are becoming obsolete.   They are replacing controllers, I/O systems, RFID systems; etc. which is very expensive and difficult to do effectively without standards if you want to move things around quickly.   The retrofit of these machines with PROIFINET-based controls makes it easy to move them into other locations.
Standardization also contributes to meeting acceleration goals to reduce new production launches from 6-9 months to 45 days. The first target is 45 days and he envisions 30 days in the future.
Ford is being successful with standardization on PROFINET including using distributed control architecture rather than zone control and reducing panel footprints with IP6 hardware. He noted this strategy uses more hardware but it lowers overall installed cost by achieving standardization, flexibility, and seamless execution of control and software design.
Automation to IT Integration
“We had a lot of very, very difficult discussions with IT because IT wanted to come down into the control layer and specify the hardware,” said Bastian. After thorough discussion of a number of factors, IT backed off and they created a line of demarcation between automaton and IT, defining the CPN (Controls Production Network) and the MPN (Management Production Network).   Automation is responsible for the CNP. He acknowledged that there are gray areas that require collaboration with IT. This was essential for the overall systems architecture to move forward and this design architecture took about 18 months to get approved through Ford IT. There is very rigid design documentation defining how this gets orchestrated. 
Integrated Safety
“Another big enabler for us was PROFIsafe and soon PROFIenergy,” said Bastian. “PROFIsafe was a breakthrough - we got rid of all our secondary safety controllers and are using integrated safety inside CNCs and PLCs.” He also noted that it dramatically reduced the hardware, simplified wiring, and enabled the use of smaller panels. “When our safety engineers come in and look at our equipment and do risk assessments and they need a change we can make the change in software streamlining our execution,” said Bastian.
Ford has a strongly enforced specification that requires PROFINET to be supplied by tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers. Bastian created a forum between control and purchasing to be sure everyone understood why enforcing the specification is important to meet overall goals. The specification is over 300 pages and includes controllers, PROFINET, hydraulics, fluid power, and a lot of attachments related to system integration. The specification is strong and Bastian emphasized the need to be prepared to pay for what you specified.   This approach increases hardware cost but total installed and lifecycle cost is lower.
PROFINET Experience
Overall this is proving to be a more cost effective approach to automation. Michael Bastian clearly stated the benefits of using PROFINET by saying, “PROFINET has proven to be very stable and robust.” “As we are growing globally, we can’t afford to experience problems during launch in China and Brazil where I don’t have a lot of engineering horsepower.” He noted they have documented installation cost reductions. Simpler cabling has proven to make troubleshooting easier and faster. PROFIsafe over PROFINET has increased flexibility and ability to control safety without added cost. 
Thoughts & Observations
Michael Bastian has taken a complete systems approach to automation that uses PROFINET as the backbone of the system. It is important to emphasize that this systems approach was driven by FORD’s goals to improve operations, efficiency and flexibility. PROFINET became one of the tools used to achieve the goals.
Michael Bastian and his team are leveraging all the strengths of PROFINET, PROFIsafe, and soon PROFIenergy.

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