LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. Training Simulator Saves Automotive Manufacturers Time and Money

Training technicians to maintain and troubleshoot automation systems presents several challenges. Most technical training programs focus on specific technologies but fail to show students how it all ties together as a system.

Another problem stems from the use of stationary training cells. Large OEMs will invest several million dollars in an automated manufacturing cell to train their technicians. These large training cells are fixed to the floor and therefore immobile, taking up valuable floor space. Furthermore, many of these units are soon rendered inoperable. They either become outdated due to new technology or are missing parts because employees, when in a pinch, have grabbed them from the cell for use on the line.

These approaches can lead to increased downtime, delayed maintenance, and gaps in technician knowledge. To create a more efficient and comprehensive technician training program with a focus on improving mean time to repair (MTTR), a major automotive OEM contacted LEONI Engineering & Product Services (LEPS). In response, LEPS developed the LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. (System Maintenance & Reliability Troubleshooting Training) solution, a turnkey mobile training cell that simulates a facility’s advanced automation systems.

Occupying only 45 square feet, the LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. solution includes both systems-level and individual component training in PLCs, robotics, human-machine interfaces (HMIs), vision, safety integration, pneumatics, and network communications.

Before training in the LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. cell, operators, technicians, and skilled trades electricians spend one to four weeks attending prerequisite training with LEONI instructors. “Once employees are in the cell, we initiate random faults into the system so they see on the HMI that something isn’t working,” says Darrell Cope, Business Development, Business Unit Robotic Solutions at LEPS. “Or we’ll use a remote radio frequency transmitter to break a circuit and use that remote to put it back in working order. Whatever the error, S.M.A.R.T.T. allows us to do open-ended troubleshooting in the real world, just as if we were on the floor.”

The multidisciplinary LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. training cell offers manufacturers additional advantages. Its mobile design requires only 480 V electrical and shop air connections, so the unit can be easily transported to different locations. Additionally, the unit is safety integrated, featuring safety door locks, lockout points, emergency stops, robot teach pendant, and a safety system overview and fault reset on the HMI to ensure the system is safety compliant.

LEPS can also customize the LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. simulator to integrate with different system components — for example, robotics, controls, and vision from any OEM. “We use the OEM’s equipment, design standards, and components to build a cell that meets their specifications,” Cope says, adding that another major automotive OEM recently purchased two different S.M.A.R.T.T. units, one for assembly and one for powertrain.

The training simulator’s biggest benefit is the total cost it saves manufacturers. “Our portable cell does almost everything a multimillion-dollar fixed automation system does, with benefits such as mobility and shared asset utilization,” Cope says. “By training on the LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. training system, technicians can diagnose and fix problems more quickly, ultimately improving uptime and MTTR and saving companies even more money.”

To learn more about the LEONI S.M.A.R.T.T. training system, contact Leps-training2@LEONI.com.

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