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Automation & Assembly


different vehicles on the same line. Te system can accommo- date a wide variety of materials, including steel, aluminum and magnesium, as well as engineered plastics and carbon fiber composites. Such a mix of materials also requires advanced joining methods, ranging from spot welding, TIG/MIG/MAG welding, projection welding, riveting, flow drill screws to high-tech bonding, brazing and remote laser. Each ComauFlex line features the company’s standardized


basic robot integrated configuration (BRIC), consisting of a single steel structure with three or four robots suspended from the bottom of a raised platform and corresponding control- lers located on top. Tere are two BRICs per station, one on each side of the line, with the transfer device running down the middle that can be precisely positioned and installed at a customer’s site. ComauFlex reorganizes the production area into two inter-


connected but distinct zones. One serves as a staging area to prep materials and parts for assembly, while the second zone is dedicated to the assembly process itself. Separating these functions into specialized areas reduces the number of steps in the process as well as associated standby times. All assembly material is delivered to the first zone where


A BRIC is a single structure with three or four robots suspended from the bottom of a raised platform and corresponding controllers located on top. There are two BRICs per station, one on each side of the line.


To be successful, companies need to make flexibility a


strategic imperative. Comau Inc. (Southfield, MI) takes this approach with its ComauFlex solution—a comprehen- sive, flexible body-in-white (BIW) manufacturing strategy. With over a decade of continuous development and refine-


ment, every element in ComauFlex has already been produc- tion-proven in world-class manufacturing facilities around the world. Not surprisingly, the key to ComauFlex is its flexibility


it is kitted, based on the current model mix, directly onto an assembly carrier at the beginning of each line. Te kitted car- riers move through the assembly zone, and parts are removed by robots as need for assembly. Creating a more orderly and rational BIW manufacturing


layout, ComauFlex can greatly improve production efficiencies and throughput that result in significant long-term savings. Te modular systems minimize non-value-added time and en- ables faster material transfer throughout the process. Te tech- nology encourages forward compatibility with new features, functions and processes to ensure continuous improvement. Two Key Transfer Systems Two key elements of ComauFlex are the VersaRoll and VersaPallet transfer systems. VersaRoll is a closed-loop as-


Using ComauFlex, automakers can build as many as four different vehicles on the same line.


and scalability, allowing it to be easily tailored to customer and market-specific requirements and production volumes. It fully supports current lightweight body construction trends. Incorporating lean manufacturing principles and modular


cells, ComauFlex streamlines work flow by optimizing process design and equipment layout. Tis results in a production line that is more functional, efficient and versatile.


Up to Four Vehicles on a Line Using ComauFlex, automakers can build as many as four


40 Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing


sembly and welding machine used for setting geometry of subassemblies, such as body sides and underbody. It can help reduce non-value-added time by up to 60% compared to traditional skid or robot hand-off solutions. Te VersaPal- let is an in-line transfer system used to complete framing, joining and assembly operations. Designed to replace fixed underbody tooling required for multiple model assemblies, VersaPallet is a geometric system with an absolute encoder and closed-loop control to enhance position accuracy as well as transfer speed.


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