Case study: Practical ways to drive efficiency in transmission manufacturing
It’s a little known fact that nearly every Toyota Camry (75%), Tacoma (96%), Tundra (85%) and Sequoia (100%) on the road in the U.S., Canada and Mexico contains a transmission that was built in North Carolina. AW North Carolina, Inc. (AWNC) is a part of Aisin Group, the #1 manufacturer of automatic transmissions and transmission components in the world. With more than 2 000 employees, AWNC’s 1.3 million square-foot Durham factory supplies Toyota with more than 600 000 transmissions per year and consistently achieves the highest margins, yield and quality levels of Aisin’s 200 locations around the globe.
Cold-rolled steel goes in and more than 3 000 transmissions come out of this high-capacity factory per day, which leaves no room for down time. Each unit incorporates 700-800 highly specialized parts and each part has its own rigid standards.
“We completely recouped our initial investment in just nine months and saved more than $1M in the first year.”
Ayako Wilson, Senior General ManagerAWNC
In the automotive industry where high quality and innovation are expectations and product life cycles are shortening every day, AWNC needed a communications and network infrastructure it could count on. It turned to Cisco for a solid platform for innovative manufacturing and technological advancements.
“Over the past year, AWNC has made a huge technology leap. We got rid of our outdated communications and networking equipment and replaced everything with Cisco,” said John Peterson, General Manager of Information Technology atAWNC. “It’s already paying off with faster speeds, lower powerconsumption and the ability to process data like never before. The best part is that with all of these improvements, we actually lowered our overall IT operating costs. We’ll save over $1 million in technology costs this year and we have a reliable, secure platform to build on.”
AWNC has deployed a 450-line Cisco Business Edition 6000 unified communications system in its offices. It has installed a completely optimized Cisco network infrastructure with access points, switches and controllers for seamless and secure Wi-Fi coverage to more than a million square feet of factory floor. A new Flexpod system provides integrated computing, networking, and storage.
There has been zero network downtime since AWNC collaborated with Cisco to implement this robust technology infrastructure.
The platform gave AWNC the agility it needed to embrace cloud computing and implement new enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES) to automate and analyze data and processes. AWNC has realized an increased efficiency and return on their technology investment.
“This transformation has exceeded our expectations on every level,” said Ayako Wilson, Senior General Manager, AWNC. “In the year it’s been in place, the Cisco network has optimized factory productivity and improved the bottom line of the Durham plant so much that we’ve already recouped our initial financial investment.”
With the baseline infrastructure in place, AWNC is planning to drive further system automation and efficiency by analyzing data acquired from the plant floor.
Currently AWNC is building a remote Disaster Recovery site in order to generate automated backups offsite, run the Durham factory’s IT systems from the AWNC Creedmoor facility server room and restore the Creedmoor server room environment from Durham or vice versa.
The next step will be to link the Asia, Europe and USA Cisco environments for a truly global data exchange.