Direct PLC-Reader Connection Reduces Manufacturing Downtime

A US automotive manufacturer needed a simpler and more reliable method of machine authentication on the manufacturing lines. ELATEC’s powerful and flexible TWN4 MultiTech 2-PI reader and TCP3 Converter allowed workers to authenticate right at their stations, without complicated backend hardware and software. The result? Fewer authentication failures, greater reliability and less downtime.

Simplifying Authentication on the Assembly Line

The plant, which manufactures medium- and heavy-duty trucks for well-known brands, relies on machine authentication on the assembly lines for security and quality control. Reliable authentication allows them to see exactly who was operating a given station at any time.

Their previous system used serial RFID readers that connected to a PC, which sent badge information back to the Manufacturing Execution System (MES). The MES confirmed the user’s authorization and then sent badge information back to the PLC at the assembly line station to complete authentication. This process was cumbersome and created multiple potential failure points. When authentication failed due to a problem with the PC, the MES or other software interfaces, it resulted in downtime on the line while IT took time to troubleshoot the problem.

When they decided to upgrade the PLCs in the plant, one of their primary objectives was to find a way to directly connect badge readers to the PLCs for immediate authentication. By simplifying the authentication process and eliminating “middleman” hardware and software, they hoped to minimize authentication failures and improve the reliability of the system.

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ELATEC TWN4 MultiTech 2-PI and TCP3 Converter: A Direct Connection to the PLC

The ELATEC TWN4 MultiTech 2-PI, in combination with the TCP3 Converter, gave them the right combination of reliable hardware and powerful software. The solution provides a highly secure and reliable direct connection between the reader and the PLC.

  • The TWN4 MultiTech 2-PI is a versatile RFID reader/writer that can read 60+ card technologies. The reader provided the flexibility to customize the programming for direct communication with the PLC.
  • The TCP3 Converter enables secure connection of the reader to devices that do not come with a USB port, such as the PLCs. The device converts the badge information from the reader to a TCP/IP message for direct connection to the PLCs without additional software interfaces.

The company implemented the ELATEC solution on 90+ individual stations on two truck assembly lines. Now, authentication is secure, reliable and fast. And since the readers are all on the network, it is easy for IT to manage them from a central location. The readers can be easily updated or reprogrammed remotely, and it is simple to manage user authorization levels.

Best of all, authentication-related downtime has been reduced, and it is easy to see exactly who has worked at each station and when. This makes it easier to get to the bottom of quality issues and see where additional training or support may be needed. The Controls Engineer says, “It’s very convenient and user-friendly and just a really straightforward software application.”

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