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OPC Helps Reduce Costs for Car Makers

A systems integration company uses OPC Servers from Cyberlogic in its turn-key error proofing systems that help prevent bad parts from being shipped out of parts plants, saving automotive manufacturers time and money.

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“Shipping a bad axle to an assembly plant is very costly,” says Dan McKiernan, President of Elite Engineering, a systems integration company located in Romeo, Mich. “It is not only the cost of manufacturing an entire vehicle with a bad axle or a bad transmission that counts,” he adds, “but also the cost of recalls, the cost of charge-backs to the parts manufacturing plants, and of course the cost of customer perception.” Elite Engineering has been in the forefront of developing technologies for preventing bad parts from being shipped out of parts plants. “This is a major area of application today,” says McKiernan. “It’s called Error Proofing.”

Elite Engineering provides complete, turn-key error proofing systems to two of the big three automakers in Detroit, as well as to some of the foreign car makers that are building plants in the region. The touchstone of Elite’s error proofing installations is the company’s Andon/Material-Pull/Error Containment (APE) software platform. Based on years of collaboration with the automotive customers and manufacturing engineers, the APE software has evolved into a system capable of monitoring hundreds of nodes and thousands of data points to marshal the flow of parts through the assembly lines.

A decade ago, APE was developed as a proprietary system based on customer needs. McKiernan says his company “had to find ways to expand the reach of the platform.” As a result, Elite’s engineers transformed the APE software to take advantage of the available OPC server products. “It’s great to see that OPC has matured into an enabling standard,” says McKiernan.

Elite uses OPC Server Suites from Cyberlogic, based in Troy, Mich., for data acquisition. In one installation, a large volume of real-time data is gathered from 100 nodes by a single Cyberlogic OPC server. “The reasons we picked Cyberlogic’s OPC software are several,” says McKiernan. “First, it is a complete product. It comes with all the drivers we need on a single CD. We don’t have to look for missing pieces somewhere else.

“And most importantly,” continues McKiernan, “[Cyberlogic’s OPC] software performs extremely well, which makes a big difference for high volume, real-time data collection.” He adds, “we do not have time to worry about data acquisition issues. We need to concentrate on building our customer’s solution. We use Cyberlogic OPC servers because they are highly reliable.”

A Leader for Mission-Critical Apps

Cyberlogic is the leading independent supplier of OPC Servers and industrial communication software with more than 100,000 copies shipped to 130 countries.

Cyberlogic OPC Server Suites are integrated, all-in-one products. Their built-in reliability features allow the configuration of an unlimited number of redundant networks and redundant data sources. Cyberlogic’s OPC Servers include a Health Monitor that continuously verifies the operation of each network and data source, automatically switching to backups when there is a problem. The built-in unsolicited messaging feature allows the configuration of an unlimited number of nodes that can initiate unsolicited data transmission, eliminating the need for polling for data. All components of Cyberlogic OPC Server Suites are developed by Cyberlogic, and all required device drivers are integrated into the Suites. The products do not require any third party add-ons.

Find out more about Cyberlogic OPC Server Suites and DevNet at

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