The automotive industry has evolved with robotics facilitating the production of some of the best vehicles in the market. Many companies in this industry have integrated robotics in nearly all production stages. Still, new entrants in the automotive industry are not aware of the impact of robotics on production. This article covers the robotic applications in the automotive sector and why vehicle manufacturers should adopt advanced technology.
Robots are not New in the Automotive Industry
Robots have facilitated a range of car manufacturing processes in the automotive industry’s assembly lines for over 50 years. Currently, vehicle manufacturers are researching robotic use in more applications.
Modern robots are flexible, precise, efficient, and reliable on production lines. This technology has transformed the automotive industry making it one of the most automated in the world. Every vehicle comes with numerous parts and wires, making the manufacturing process complex. However, robots have made the process more manageable with the following crucial applications that guarantee efficiency in the assembly line.
· Robotic Vision
An agile industrial robotic end of arm tooling with the ability to envision its tasks completes them more accurately. In this case, the robotic arm comes with an inbuilt camera and laser array giving the robot instant feedback. Modern-day robots can execute counterbalance when installing parts seeing that they know where to place them. Robotic vision facilitates more precise installation of fenders, windshields, and door panels than traditional robot arms.
Light robotic arms in many automotive manufacturing plants compile small parts like pumps and motors at high speed. Robotic end of arm tooling completes other tasks like wheel mounting, screw driving, and installation of windshields.
· Arc and Spot Welding
Large robots with a higher payload and long arms handle spot welding on heavy-duty panels, while more miniature robots are designed for welding thinner parts like brackets and mounts. Metal inert gas and Tungsten inert gas welders can place the torch in the same inclination on each cycle.
Maintaining high welding levels in each fabrication is possible because of the speed gap and repeatable arc. Cobots and other massive industrial robots collaborate on substantial assembly lines. Robotic handlers and welders should work together to guarantee consistency in the assembly line. The team should position panels at the right location allowing the welding robot to execute all the scheduled welding sessions.
· Coating, Sealing, and Painting
Automotive painting can be a complex and toxic task. Finding professional and skilled painters in the industry is fast becoming harder following labor shortages. Robotic end of arm tooling can be ideal for executing the task, which requires consistency for each paint coat. Robots can keep to a programmed trail completing larger areas consistently and reducing waste. Vehicle manufacturers can also rely on robots to spray sealants, adhesives, and primers.
· Removal of Materials
Robots can stick to a complex path at different times without failure, making them some of the ideal tools for trimming and cutting tasks. Soft robots fitted with force sensing technology are ideal for these tasks, including polishing molds, clearing glints from plastic moldings, and plastic cutting.
· Transfer of Parts and Machine Tending
Packing and unpacking CNC machines, moving metal stamps, and spilling melted metal in a vehicle manufacturing plant can be dangerous for human employees. However, this task can be ideal for substantial industrial robots. Packing and unpacking, and machine tending tasks are today executed by more miniature collaborative robots for small manufacturing applications.
· Internal Logistics
AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) and other automated cars like forklifts can come in handy in a factory setting to transfer raw materials from storage to the factory floor. Some vehicle manufacturing companies across the world have already adopted AMRs to facilitate the delivery of welding and industrial materials to different robot stations in the factory and replace manual procedures.
Why Vehicle Manufacturers Should Adopt Automotive Robotics
Manufacturers cannot ignore advanced technology in today’s fast-paced world, where customers expect better services each day. By adopting automotive robotics, players in the vehicle manufacturing industry can reap significant benefits, as we shall see below.
· High ROI and Cost-Effectiveness
The emergence of automotive robots in vehicle manufacturing has proven to be cost-effective. Automotive collaborative robots allow the production team to appreciate the benefits of robotic automation without incurring additional costs. Further, maintaining modern-day robots is easy and less costly. These automotive robots have a high return on investment, making them ideal for many businesses.
· Improved Efficiency, Precision, and Speed
There has been an increased demand for vehicles in the last few years. Currently, there are numerous car manufacturers, all of whom are competing for the number one position in the market. To remain ahead of other competitors in today’s overly competitive world, manufacturers should shorten their production time, and this is where automotive robots operate effectively.
These machines guarantee precision and speed allowing manufacturers to boost their production tome without compromising on quality. Fast production in the assembly line allows manufacturers to meet the rising demand promptly. Robotic precision reduces energy and material wastage during production enabling manufacturers to cut down operational costs.
· Robots support Numerous Applications
Automotive robots can operate with ease in numerous production procedures guaranteeing a smooth flow of work. Some studies suggest that automotive robots have solved many labor needs. These units can be ideal for painting, welding, material handling, assembly, machine tending, and quality inspection tasks. Further, manufacturers can leverage the human-robot collaboration capabilities of cobots to enhance production.
Collaborative robots feature good cameras and sensors to detect motion near them and stop operations where necessary. As a result, these units can operate with human employees without endangering them.
· Enhanced Flexibility Across the Assembly Line
The automotive industry evolves fast, and customer expectations shift from vintage car designs to present-day electric vehicles. Colors, capabilities, and shapes also evolve fast. Assembly lines that cannot keep up with these changes do not survive in the industry for long. Automotive robots are crucial to facilitating flexibility.
Cobots, for example, are easily programmable and can be deployed to new tasks fast. They come with a rapid configuration speed and can be integrated into the production floor within hours. These modern units can quickly adapt to new production techniques, enabling manufacturers to meet market demands on time.
The automotive industry relies heavily on robotics, a trend that is expected to continue. Manufacturers planning to excel in the industry must invest in robotics to speed up operations and meet rising demand.