A Right Angle Transfer (RAT) performs a 90-degree turn in the conveyance system of an automotive plant. The conveyance system is the circulatory system of a modern assembly plant: it moves vehicles and other parts to enable efficient assembly. Any disruption to the operation of the conveyance system stops the assembly line, bringing production to a screeching halt.
For a fully-assembled vehicle, the cost is extremely high. We’re talking equal to the profitability of the vehicle AND
up to $1 million per hour when you factor in labor costs and overtime.
These production halts are often the result of RAT failures.
And they are costly. In one major vehicle plant, assembly was shut down for over 24 hours during a four-month period due to unexpected RAT system failures. The financial impact? Over $70 MILLION in lost production time.
So why do RAT failures keep happening?
RAT systems are typically a semi-custom system. They’re built with non-standard parts – motors, belts, pinion gears, lifts and traction drivers – that have evolved over decades of configuration changes.
Often there is no single person who understands the operation and can address the vulnerabilities before a failure.
This causes operators to blindly operate their equipment at many stages of production. If they are unable to proactively implement continuous improvement, they risk being surprised by the next failure.
Another problem? Not only are RAT systems composed of unique machine parts, the motion of RAT systems is intermittent.
Traditional measurements like route-based or wireless monitoring cannot easily detect and diagnose problems during the infrequent movements. Not to mention it’s dangerous to access measurement points when a vehicle is moving through approximately once every minute.