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ABB, Sweden - IFR-Partner
Fast and flexible, safe and strong
ABB has provided a turnkey automated welding line for China's newest and technically most advanced automotive factory. The highly flexible solution enables different car models to be produced on the same line and performs 4,000 welding operations that are 25 percent faster and 30 percent stronger than conventional welding.
The welding line is installed at Great Wall Motors' (GWM) recently opened and internationally acclaimed automotive plant in Tianjin, China.
Inaugurated in August 2011, the new factory has a production capacity of 250,000 units a year. This will triple to 800,000 units when later phases of the factory are completed in 2015, making the facility one of the largest automobile manufacturing sites in the world.
The factory is producing several different vehicle models, including the latest version of GWM's highly successful Haval sport utility vehicle (SUV), which has been China's best-selling SUV in domestic and export markets for the past eight consecutive years.
One of the factory's most highly publicized and productive manufacturing lines is the ABB welding line, which comprises among other things a fleet of ABB robots and patented ABB framing and hemming technologies.
The line comprises 30 work stations and 27 ABB IRB 6640 and IRB 7600 robots, which perform more than 4,000 welding operations on the car body at uniquely high levels of accuracy, speed, consistency and shock resistance - key requirements not only for factory productivity but for the safety and quality of the final product.
Equipped with ABB servo guns, the robots perform each welding operation 25 percent faster than traditional pneumatic guns and with 30 percent more shock resistance than common braze welding. The cycle time for welding an entire Haval SUV is just 86 seconds, including transfer between stations.
One of the differentiating features of the welding line is ABB's patented FlexFramer car body assembly system, which welds the roof, underbody and bodysides together to create the main frame of the vehicle.
Robust IRB 7600 robots, which can handle material weighing up to 500 kg, hold the panels securely and accurately in place while IRB 6640 robots perform the welding. FlexFramer is designed for extreme precision repeat welding and can quickly switch production from one car model to another.
In addition to supplying the robots and FlexFramer, ABB also supplied all the welding fixtures, roller bed (to transfer the car body), robot welding guns, robot grippers, control system, and its patented roller hemming technology, which hems together the outer and inner panels of the doors, hood and decklid.
Great Wall Motors considers the ABB solution a huge success, and has recently ordered an additional 11 robots from ABB to convert the few manual stations on the line to robot based, thus making the line fully automated from one end to the other.
ABB's FlexFramer car body assembly system on the GWM
welding line (left). The Haval H6 sport utility vehicle (right).
Haval has been China's best-selling SUV in domestic and
export markets for the past eight consecutive years.