MORE PRODUCTIVITY EVEN WITH SMALL BATCH PRODUCTION
USE FLEXIBLE AUTOMATION
The trend in the automotive industry is towards more and more individual vehicle designs. These make the automation of production processes more difficult and require suppliers to design production lines flexibly.
Experience shows: By developing the production line at an early stage in close cooperation between OEM and supplier, it is possible to manage the balancing act between automation and productivity on the one hand and flexibilisation on the other. The example of Solvaro’s truck ventilation grille production for MAN shows how speed and flexibility can be combined in a coherent production concept.
Flexible automation of series production with a lower number of pieces
In the series production of vehicle parts, the following principle applies: the larger the number of units and the smaller the differences between the components, the higher the productivity and the lower the costs per unit.
However, by designing the production line flexibly at an early stage, it is also possible to automate series production with a lower number of units to a large extent and to achieve high productivity. The advantage: in the end, it is no longer only the batch size that decides on an investment, but also the plant concept.
The example of the Solvaro ventilation grilles for MAN’s new generation of trucks shows that an automation system can be designed so flexibly that it is worthwhile even with relatively small batch sizes. The stone guard grilles and bumper grilles are produced in 22 different versions and delivered in MAN-specific load carriers. In this article we have compiled practical insights for you.
Productive in time
The example of the transfer system for ventilation grilles at Solvaro shows how flexibility and speed can be ideally combined. The system, which was individually designed for Solvaro, transports ventilation grilles for several forming operations through the machine in time with the press.
But even before the first forming, the work of the system begins: it takes the sheets to be processed from the stack. It sounds simple, but it is not. In comparable machines, such a step is usually done with suction cups, but in this case a suction cup cannot adhere through the holes, so a magnet takes over this task. What is difficult here is that really only one sheet is taken, because the perforations make them adhere strongly to each other. This is also checked automatically. Then the sheet metal is transported into the machine on a roller conveyor and perfectly aligned there. Magnets and grippers transport the component from station to station. At the end, it travels on a device for testing and packaging.
Easily stowed away, quickly ready for use
When the system is not in use, it does not have to be dismantled. The slide remains on the press and is simply raised via a special device. This keeps it outside the working area that is needed for the production of other parts on the press. If the system is used again, the set-up time is minimal. A perfect example of the flexible design of production lines with a high degree of automation.
The most important highlights from the project at a glance:
- An individually designed transfer system transports ventilation grilles through the machine with the help of a magnet.
- Feeding, alignment and forwarding of the parts in the press function fully automatically, thus achieving a high production speed.
- When the machine is not in use, it is simply shut down, which minimises the set-up time when it is restarted.
Flexible yet highly productive
Ventilation grille production at Solvaro is just one example of flexible, yet highly productive production lines in the vehicle supplier industry. The opportunities for automation are far from exhausted in the vehicle industry and all developments indicate that Industry 4.0, Internet of Things and other Big Trends will have a significant impact on the production lines of the future
In order to fully exploit the opportunities of automation and at the same time do justice to the individual character of many vehicle parts, intelligent and well-planned production concepts are required.
Solvaro has recognised that the course for a successful investment is already set in the development phase: Through close cooperation, engineering competence and inventiveness.
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SOLVARO GMBH, Head of Key Account