Daimler: Production and safety controller – full speed ahead

In the Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf, HIMatrix systems with safeethernet connection enable lightning-fast module change and easy integration in the existing production concept.


Effective protection of man and machine

Automobile production is laid out for high quantities and fast production cycles. This also applies for the highly-automated body production line for the "Sprinter" in Daimler AG's Düsseldorf Plant in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the course of production changeover to the new vehicle generation, Daimler was looking for safety technology, which offers maximum protection for employees and equipment, as well as seamless integration in the existing automation architecture.

Due to good previous experience with the safety systems that are already in use in the Düsseldorf Plant, and that have had minimal failure rates over the last ten years, Daimler again chose a solution from HIMA. In the reconfigured body-in-white production line third-generation HIMatrix controllers (F30-03) ensure safety-related monitoring and shutdown of danger zones, e.g. in the area of the conveyor technology and the robot cells.

The production line consists of a large number of cells connected in series. The logic must be relayed from one cell to the next at maximum speed. Data transfer between controllers is executed with maximum reliability thanks to the high processor speed of the HIMatrix and the SIL 3 safety standard.


Easy system integration

A central challenge for this project was integration of the HIMatrix controllers in the existing automation concept. To comply with the tight scheduling of production plans, Daimler developed a controller architecture, which in the event of malfunction, enables replacement of entire production cells, on the principle of "controller on wheels". Also the automation structure of the plant is quite heterogeneous, which poses a challenge in terms of interoperability.

The HIMA solution effectively implements these requirements. The new controllers, on which SILworX is running, can communicate with the older models with ELOP II Factory. In addition, they can be integrated in the distributed controller concept. This means that if there is a malfunction, the complete production module can be replaced individually with an identical module, without disturbing or interrupting overall operations; this capability contributes to increased availability.


The technical details

Together with Daimler, HIMA developed a modular system of function blocks for programming of the HIMatrix systems. The function blocks are TÜV-certified in accordance with IEC 61508, Part 1-7/EN 954-1 and can be implemented in up to SIL 3/cat. 4. Thus validation of functionality on the user's side is no longer necessary. Thanks to the modular hardware system and predefined programming instructions it is easy for system integrators to commission new controllers. The results are significant time and cost savings in programming and acceptance.


Overall a total of 400 devices from HIMA is used, including approx. 50 safety-related controllers and 350 remote I/O modules (SIL 3). The HIMA systems process approximately 2,000 input signals (protective doors, light grids, scanners, roller gates, etc.) and 1,000 output signals (robots, drives).


HIMA solution ensures maximum safety and availability

For highly-automated production lines, such as the production line in the Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf plant, where many robot cells are interconnected in series, protection of employees is of utmost importance. For example, if an employee opens a safety grid or crosses over a light barrier, to protect people and equipment the safety controllers must switch off the robots within milliseconds. This is what the HIMatrix systems reliably ensure; they are TÜV-certified in accordance with EN ISO 13849-1 to PL e, and EN 62061 up to SIL 3.

  • Maximum safety: TÜV-certified HIMatrix (SIL 3) systems effectively protect man and machine
  • Time and cost savings: Certified function blocks facilitate programming and commissioning
  • Easy integration: safeethernet enables seamless integration in existing automation systems
  • High reliability: The failure rate of HIMatrix controllers is under the specified average values
  • High availability: Integration in a distributed control concept enables replacement of individual production cells
Integration in the distributed control concept enables replacement of individual production cells. All photos: © Daimler AG
Thanks to HIMA safety technology employees and robots work together safely and efficiently in Sprinter production in the Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf plant.

Background: About Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf

The Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf plant is Daimler's largest van plant worldwide. It was founded in 1962, and as the primary plant for worldwide Sprinter production it takes a leading role within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz vans. On a production area of approximately 175,000 m² (body-in-white, painting, and assembly) more than 6,500 employees manufacture the closed models of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

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