ABB partners with Changan Ford to boost Chinese carmaker’s flexibility

2014-05-20 – Long a car-industry mantra, “flexible production” becomes a reality at Chinese automobile plant – with help from ABB Robotics

It takes just 18 seconds for the Ford Motor Co. and its partner, Changan, to switch between vehicle models on a production line where ABB robots ensure one of China’s biggest carmakers can react quickly to shifting consumer sentiment, rising demand and a changing economy.
To put those 18 seconds in perspective, the joint venture’s plant in Chongqing, in southwestern China, can go from making Ford Mondeos (in the U.S., think Fusions) to any one of as many as five different models faster than sprinter Usain Boltrunsthe 200 meters.ABB’s robots also ease introduction of completely new models to the line, too, an advance from traditional production lines that required more extensive work before a new model could be added – hardly ideal if consumers’ tastes change quickly.

“Flexible production,” a car-industry mantra since the 1990s, is becoming a necessity in China and the rest of the world as auto manufacturers accommodate customer expectations that can turn faster than prices at the gas pump while ensuring factories are prepared for sweeping demand swings like the one that accompanied the Great Recession.
“The economic downturn has been tough on automakers and highlighted the need to be more adaptive to the demands of the market,” said Yuan HenXin, Manufacturing Engineering Manager for Changan Ford. “This is especially true when it comes to being able to respond quicker to changes in customer preference, as well as remain competitive in a fierce industry.”


How fast?
Changan Ford, with its facilities 900 miles upstream from Shanghai on the Yangtze River in one of China’s auto manufacturing hubs, is actually an expansion of a long partnership between Ford and ABB Robotics. It’s already boosted flexibility of the carmaker’s operations.

In 2012, for instance, ABB Robotics installed a Tube Press and Weld System to make axles and gears for the F-150 Pickup truck, among other vehicles, at the Ford Sterling Axle Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. Now, a complete changeover between axle types can be completed in less than 43 seconds _ not as fast as Bolt’s 200, maybe, but faster than Michael Johnson’s 400-meter world record.

Working now with Changan Ford in China, ABB’s FlexLean Automotive Bodyshop Solution is deployed at the stage of production known as “Body in White”. That’s industry shorthand for when the car’s body is just beginning to take shape, including assembling raw stamped metal body panels into a welded frame.

First, the car’s underbody arrives for ABB robots to begin the gluing process, making it possible for up to six different models to be produced on the same production line. This flexible robotic production line has the unique ability to adapt, on the fly, for cars of different widths and lengths without a moment of stopped production, because of ABB’s robotic technology.

Flexible ABB robots do the heavy lifting

Next, the roof goes on, also with ABB robots doing the heavy lifting before turning to high-speed brazing, accurate laser welding and polishing that gives Changan Ford’s cars’ exterior the kind of finish consumers are seeking.

In minutes, each new frame has acquired the stiffness necessary for safety.

And in just seconds, the line is ready for the next car – even if it’s a different model.

“This philosophy uses robotics technology to replace traditional custom-made machinery with standardized solutions,” said Alan Stapelberg, Global Product Manager of ABB Robotics Body-In-White Portfolio. “These products are modular in design and flexible, allowing multiple car models to be produced on the same line and new models to be added easily.”

The world’s No. 1 car market – and rising

Changan Ford says replacing custom machinery – typically designed specifically to produce just one vehicle model – with ABB’s standardized, flexible solution allows them to reuse the hardware investment across new models, saving them money and making a lot of financial sense.

Additionally, life is made easier for maintenance workers who now have comprehensive maintenance documentation and spare parts close at hand.

And with the production line’s machinery all running on the identical language as ABB’s robots, operators need less training and can get to work more quickly as new models are added, Changan Ford said.

Increasingly affluent consumers have already made China the world’s No. 1 market for cars, at 20 million-plus units sold in 2013 and rising.

With Chinese wages set to rise more than 10 percent this year, its residents will have even more buying power to demand safer, higher-quality, Internet-connected cars.

“With this increasing prosperity, the market will continue to grow, meaning high-volume production which can only be accomplished with full automation,” Changan Ford’s Yuan said, adding global cooperation is key to modern vehicle manufacturing. “ABB Robotics is a good partner for us in this regard.”

 

 

 

ABB Integrated Force Control sensors allow robots to operate with the dexterity of the human hand

2014-05-20 – ABB’s Integrated Force Control handles process variations with the sensitivity of the human hand while shortening programming time up to 70 percent.

From machining to small parts assembly, dexterous handling of work piece and tools is of the utmost concern. Small variations in the manufacturing phase can mean the difference between success and failure. To help deal with these issues, ABB Integrated Force Control technology makes robots more intelligent and able to handle variations in the process with real-time external inputs—much like a human would when handling a delicate item or precise dimensions.

The ABB force control sensors are: fully integrated into ABB’s hardware and software; protected against overload and EMC; certified to IP65; and suitable for high precision robotic applications with a compact and lightweight design. ABB’s offering includes three different types of integrated sensors which are compatible with most industrial robot models, from IRB 140 to IRB 6700. Sensors range in capacity from between 165 N/15Nm and 2500 N/400 Nm.

“Integrated Force Control opens up the possibility to automate tasks that have not been possible using traditional robot automation,” says ABB Product Manager Andreas Eriksson. “Compared with expensive, hard automation, robotic solutions equipped with integrated sensors are less expensive and require a greater degree of flexibility.”

Conventional robotic solutions are controlled by predefined paths and speeds. However, with ABB Integrated Force Control, the robot reacts to its surrounding and can deviate from its programmed path or speed based on feedback from the force sensor. It is possible to automate complex tasks which previously required skilled personnel and advanced fixed automation.

“When combined with vision guided robotics, like ABB Integrated Vision, ABB Integrated Force Control also allows for new ways of thinking about a myriad of other robotic automated functions that previously required skilled personnel,” adds Eriksson.

All ABB Robotics’ products are fully supported by the ABB Robotics’ global sales and service organization in 53 countries and over 100 locations.

Visit www.abb.com/robotics for further information.

Source: ABB

Electron Beam Welding Robots

 

 

Publicado el 19/05/2014

Electron beam welding robots are effective in a variety of different welding solutions. Due to their focused weld zone, they are provide precise, highly controlled welds. View our collection of electron beam welding robotics here:http://www.robots.com/applications/el…

Electron Beam Welding Robots: Electron beam welding (EBW) is a fusion welding process that joins two materials by using a beam of high-velocity electrons. The electrons produce kinetic energy that is transformed into heat upon impact, melting the workpieces and connecting them with a fusion weld.

Electron beam welding robots are effective in several different welding situations and they have a narrow weld zone. With such a focused welding zone, it allows for highly controlledwelding.

The electron beam is generated in a high vacuum. While it can weld in medium or non-vacuum conditions, high vacuum welding will provide maximum purity and high depth to width ratio welds.

There are several robot models available that can perform electron beam welding, including the FANUC S series and the Motoman UP series.

Source: RobotWorx Marion

Valk Welding ThyssenKrupp

 

 

Publicado el 20/05/2014

Beautiful video company of the firm ThyssenKrupp what Valk Welding welding robots do for their company. See how the welding robot with Arc-eye laser technology, the various components are welded together. http://www.valkwelding.com

Source: Valk Welding

Check out the assembly line of the future!

 

“Made to order,” a phrase that began with the service industry, is now vital to manufacturing’s future. Manufacturing production has recently grown at its fastest pace in more than a decade, creating more economic value per dollar spent than any other sector. Explore the remarkable advances that may transform manufacturing forever in this Special report. Credit: NBC Learn, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and National Science Foundation

NSF’s Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing proves good test bed for large-scale nanomanufacturing designs

There’s no shortage of ideas about how to use nanotechnology, but one of the major hurdles is how to manufacture some of the new products on a large scale. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst chemical engineer Jim Watkins and his team are working to make nanotechnology more practical for industrial-scale manufacturing.

One of the projects they’re working on at the NSF Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing (CHM) is a roll-to-roll process for nanotechnology that is similar to what is used in traditional manufacturing. They’re also designing a process to manufacture printable coatings that improve the way solar panels absorb and direct light. They’re even investigating the use of self-assembling nanoscale products that could have applications for many industries.

“New nanotechnologies can’t impact the U.S. economy until practical methods are available for producing products, using them in high volumes, at low cost. CHM is researching the fundamental scientific and engineering barriers that impede such commercialization, and innovating new technologies to surmount those barriers,” notes Bruce Kramer, senior advisor in the NSF Engineering Directorate’s Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI), which funded the research.

“The NSF Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing is developing platform technologies for the economical manufacture of next generation devices and systems for applications in computing, electronics, energy conversion, resource conservation and human health,” explains Khershed Cooper, a CMMI program director.

In 2012, NSF awarded $55.5 million to university consortia to establish three new Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) to advance interdisciplinary nanosystems research and education in partnership with industry. The new ERCs are expected to create transformational science and engineering platforms for the respective fields of nanoscale research, education and innovation. Find out more in this news release. Credit: Illustrated by Narayanan Ramanan, North Carolina State University

“The center creates fabrication tools that are enabling versatile and high-rate continuous processes for the manufacture of nanostructures that are systematically integrated into higher order structures using bottom-up and top-down techniques,” Cooper says. “For example, CHM is designing and building continuous, roll-to-roll nanofabrication systems that can print, in high-volume, 3-D nanostructures and multi-layer nanodevices at sub-100 nanometer resolution, and in the process, realize hybrid electronic-optical-mechanical nanosystems.”

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1025020, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers (NSEC): Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing.