Robotic Assembly Systems Offer Incredible Solutions for the Automotive Industry
Robotic assembly automation is steadily becoming the single most dominant force in manufacturing. The speed and quality demanded by industrial production is not something human workers can do alone. To this end, many assembly equipment manufacturers now offer machines known as cobots. These allow for semi-automatic assembly, which essentially keeps a real person in the driver’s seat, guiding the action while a machine performs the physically difficult or highly precise aspects of the task.
But even then, more radical change is still on the horizon. The automotive industry has always been at the forefront of automation in manufacturing. Countries with strong automotive sectors are moving towards fully automatic production at staggering rates. In South Korea, there are over 850 robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees. In the automotive industry itself, there is one robot for every five employees.
It’s trends like these that make ideas like Tesla’s ‘lights out’ factory look increasingly feasible. But what is it about the automotive industry that makes it so ripe for automated assembly systems, and how do these systems work?
Where Industrial Assembly Meets Powerful Automation
A single vehicle can contain as many as 30,000 individual parts. Obviously, these are not all assembled in one place, but it starts to give a sense of the sheer scale of the work required. Between power trains, transmissions, and structural components, there is a massive range of processes and connection methods required to bring a new car to completion.
Luckily, automotive manufacturing is pretty well-adapted to fully automated assembly lines. Pieces move consistently and regularly through the plant, reducing the need for human interaction. Additionally, robots are now capable of diverse high-level assembly tasks, complete with in-line and on-machine metrology to make process control seamless.
Torque and Fastening Systems
Proper torque is vital when creating a safe vehicle, and car manufacturing has dozens of different demands, both in size and precision. From high-torque, wide-tolerance lug nuts to the precision of attaching an air compressor to an engine block, torque systems have historically been left to humans due to the delicacy required and the high cost of failure. But, new advancements are allowing assembly equipment manufacturers to implement carefully calibrated torque systems.
This new capacity for process control comes in the form of both in-line and on-machine metrology. On top of offering both blow-fed and track-fed torque systems, +Vantage machines have integrated torque and angle monitoring, protecting against dangerous errors that could result in a recall. This includes customizable torque sequences for an even preload distribution. Finally, post-torque inspection acts as a final safeguard against sub-par components winding up in a vehicle.
Press-fit technology is an important aspect of automotive manufacturing, specifically for electrical and mechanical connections where temperature fluctuations, shock, vibrations, and contaminants are a major concern. It can even be used to create a simultaneous electrical and mechanical connection in a single process step. However, it also requires the right tools to do it properly, and that’s where +Vantage comes in. Our machines can utilize servo, hydraulic, air-over-oil, or pneumatic press systems to integrate the best system for a given application.
Naturally, a solid connection means proper force applied in the correct way, and integrated metrology answers those needs. Our force/stroke monitoring allows manufacturers to track the press curves output function, creating detailed data for process. Finally, in-line post-press inspection verifies quality, minimizing the need for operator input.
Glue and RTV Dispensing
Windows and windshields require delicately applied adhesive to sit firmly and securely in a vehicle. To meet this need, +Vantage offers comprehensive RTV dispensing systems, utilizing servo or robot-assisted application. This includes internal monitoring systems, as well as advanced 3D visual inspection capabilities to check bead quality.
Blind rivets are popular in the automotive industry for assembling structural elements such as the chassis, door hinges, seat structure and other parts of the vehicle. These processes require precision paired with high force to ensure a secure connection every time, and robots offer a powerful solution. +Vantage’s automated systems can use blow-fed in-line riveting to provide unmatched line speed, and eliminate the downtime to reload.
Automate With Us!
Are you ready to revolutionize your manufacturing assembly process? To learn about the detailed +Vantage integration process, and the vast array of automation services we offer, download our brochures!
To discuss how our systems can benefit your custom process, contact us to speak with an engineering design consultant today!