Linn Products

4 min read
01-Jul-2024 13:07:53

Founded in 1973 in Glasgow, Linn Products has a long-standing reputation for producing high-fidelity audio systems. Over the past fifty years, Linn has become synonymous with exceptional quality and innovative designs, seeing their systems featured in prestigious applications such as the QE2 cruise liner and Aston Martin vehicles. The company remains firmly rooted in Glasgow, where it continues to design, improve, and manufacture its hand-crafted products. 

Linn's commitment to quality and innovation extends beyond their audio systems to their approach to production technology. In 1986, Linn established a state-of-the-art factory equipped with advanced automation technologies, including a high-bay warehouse with automated cranes, combination sections, and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). This facility represented a forward-thinking approach at the time, aimed at ensuring efficient and high-quality production. 

The Challenge

Despite the cutting-edge nature of the technology when it was first installed, Linn Products faced significant challenges as the factory's systems aged. The primary issue was the obsolescence of the 1986 technology, which included custom-built components with no available spare parts. The control systems were similarly outdated, with the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) installed in the early 2000s now considered obsolete.  

This aging technology posed several problems:  

  1. Lack of Spare Parts and Support: The custom-built systems had no readily available spare parts, making repairs difficult and costly. The lack of backups for the software controlling these systems further compounded the issue, as a failure in the system could lead to significant production disruptions.
  2. Technological Knowledge Gap: Many of the employees at Linn had been with the company since the factory's inception and were well-versed in the old technology. However, a new generation of workers, more accustomed to modern technologies found the outdated systems challenging to work with. This generational shift underscored the need to modernise the technology to align with contemporary skills and expectations.
  3. System Failure and Impact: During the project’s development phase, the aging system failed, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul. This failure temporarily halted production, reinforcing the importance of updating the technology to prevent future disruptions.
man working


The Solution 

Linn Products approached the technological overhaul with a comprehensive and strategic plan. The key steps in their approach included: 

  1. Adoption of Store Control System (SCS): Linn opted for TBA’s Store Control System (SCS) rather than a full Warehouse Control System (WCS). The SCS, based on PLC technology, provided the necessary functionalities without requiring extensive database capabilities. It could efficiently coordinate machinery, move pallets, check machine status, and perform other essential low-level functions that met Linn's needs.
  2. Multi-disciplinary Collaboration: The project involved a collaborative effort with various stakeholders. A Swedish company, AGVE, was responsible for upgrading the AGVs, while Linn Products made changes to their manufacturing system. Linn's team also took on the electrical installations, ensuring that the new system was integrated seamlessly with their existing infrastructure. This collaborative approach leveraged the expertise of each party, ensuring a well-rounded and effective solution. 
  3. Joint Functional Design: From the outset, Linn and their partners worked together to develop a joint functional design for the new system. This collaboration helped define the system's requirements clearly, preventing scope creep and ensuring that the project stayed on track.
  4. Digital Twin: Linn used a digital twin, a virtual replica of the factory environment, to test the new system extensively before implementation. This allowed them to identify and address potential issues in a controlled environment, ensuring that the system was reliable and effective before going live. 
  5. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Approach: The project adopted an MVP approach, where functional modules were deployed incrementally. This allowed for immediate testing and feedback, enabling Linn to refine the system continuously. By the time the system went live, the users were already familiar with its functionalities, having tested and used it during the development phase. 
  6. Remote Commissioning: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project relied on remote commissioning, which provided flexibility and minimized disruptions. This approach allowed Linn to adapt to production schedules and ensure that the system was implemented without impacting ongoing operations. 

new agv


The Linn Products project was highly successful, resulting in several significant outcomes:

  • Modernised Control Systems: The new Allen Bradley Rockwell control systems provided enhanced functionality, improved operational efficiency, and better stock visibility. The updated systems featured modern communication protocols, such as TCP/IP, bringing Linn's technology into the 21st century.
  • Improved Racking and Inventory Management: The new indexation method improved racking organisation, making it easier to manage inventory and ensuring that items were more accessible. This optimisation reduced the time and effort required to locate and retrieve items, enhancing overall efficiency.
  • Maintained Production Continuity: The modernisation process was completed without disrupting production schedules. Linn met all production goals from the first day of implementation, demonstrating the effectiveness of the planning and execution of the project.
  • Enhanced System Reliability: The extensive testing and use of digital twins ensured that the new system was reliable and free of significant issues. Post-implementation tests confirmed that the system functioned as expected, with no major problems reported.
  • Effective Collaboration and Communication: The project's success was largely due to the effective collaboration between Linn and their partners. The joint functional design and continuous communication ensured that everyone involved had a clear understanding of the project's goals and requirements. 

Fraser Crown, Head of Facilities at Linn Products, praised TBA for their expertise and excellent customer service. “We needed a company with the rare skill set required to convert our aging warehouse and AGV control systems to a modern version with minimal downtime,” he explained. TBA proved to have the right team, who had an incredibly high level of knowledge, understanding and customer service to deliver the ideal solution.” 

You can read more about our warehouse automation solutions here, or contact us to speak to one of our experts. 

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