Cooperation of Man and Machine: Suzuki Plant’s Development Project Reaches Final Stage
As a result of a multi-stage production development project, the Suzuki plant in Esztergom (50 km northwest of Budapest) has increased the safety of its cars to meet today’s most advanced technological, market and environmental requirements.
In order to make driving greener and more cost-effective, the manufacturer has developed a new composition of polymers needed for parts manufacturing, modernized its logistics system and made its welding system intelligent. The successful implementation of the project has been achieved through the coordinated work of more than 100 experts.
Innovation as a Core Principle
Developing products of superior value by focusing on the needs of customers is the motto of the Suzuki group. In line with this corporate principle, Magyar Suzuki Corporation aims to offer exciting, innovative vehicles at affordable prices, that make lives easier. The company’s ongoing modernization effort, conducted with this objective in mind, has now reached an important milestone of a multi-stage research and development project that started in September 2016.
In the coordinated consortium effort led by Magyar Suzuki Corporation, Bay Zoltán Nonprofit Ltd. for Applied Research, PEMÜ Plc. and the Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics at Pázmány Péter Catholic University are also participating.
“Thanks to digitalization, the process of implementing new models from the drawing board of the Japanese parent company into Hungarian mass production is accelerating, making the launch of new models faster,” says deputy managing director Dr. László Urbán.
Digital Production Management on the Way
Changing market needs and compliance policies mean car models change at a fast pace and the development cycle of vehicle models is substantially shorter than previously, creating the need for a flexible logistics system. In the framework of its innovation project, Suzuki has digitalized its internal parts supply system, which is capable of a real-time display of feedback related to material flow and stocks, hence improving productivity and reducing the chance of human error. Modernized warehouse processes support a fully electronic product tracking system implemented in the factory, while the parts supply procedures in the assembly shop are optimized with the help of special software that simulates material flow.
Harmony of Robots
Part of the R&D project was the creation of an active network of robots to follow the spot-welding process and the implementation of a communication network able to process structured data. The innovative system accelerates the introduction of new car models by replacing manual inspection of welded body parts by software-controlled check-ups and connecting 3D models with spot welding coordinates of body parts. The development provides data analytics of robots, which shortens production time and offers a more advanced fault detection as well as predictive maintenance. Suzuki, with the help of its partners, performs experiments to test the introduction of laser welding that allows more flexibility and shorter production cycles, enabling the simple welding of various alloys and light metals simply and quickly with no specific tools required.
New Base Materials
The characteristics of end products are considerably determined by the base materials used for parts prototypes. This is one reason why Suzuki and its development partner have been making material developments, aiming to create polymers with better technical and flame retardancy parameters than the materials used currently. In the last phase of the project, the company runs tests investigating the behavior of polymers in a production environment and compares the current parts with those made from new materials. This helps Suzuki further increase safety, contribute to the preservation of the environment and reduce the fuel consumption of its car models.
Magyar Suzuki Corporation was established in 1991 and is currently still the only European manufacturing unit of the Japanese parent company. Magyar Suzuki employs 3,200 people directly and contributes to the livelihood of approximately 10,000 people through its partners, suppliers and a nationwide network of 78 dealerships.
The Esztergom plant started production in October 1992. Currently Vitara and SX4 S-CROSS models are manufactured here, thanks to which the company has been leading the domestic new car sales statistics for more than three years. The corporation also exports to countries as far away as Mexico, New Zealand and Japan. In addition to manufacturing vehicles for the domestic and international markets, the company also sells imported cars, motorcycles and outboard engines.
In 2018, Magyar Suzuki sold 171,885 vehicles in 123 countries. Some 95% of these cars were manufactured in Esztergom. According to the data from 2018, the company is the ninth biggest corporation in the country regarding revenue, and according to its export sales it is ranked eighth.
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