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Robot - 7 Crucial Robotic Applications in Automotive Manufacturing

By Special Guest
Boris Dzhingarov
August 27, 2021



The automotive industry has been using robotic applications in its manufacturing assembly lines to increase efficiency for over 50 years now. Robots are used in virtually all the processes in a car assembly line. This has made the automotive manufacturing field one of the first and fastest adaptors of robotic technology in manufacturing industries around the globe.

Today, even more, and more applications are being turned over to robots. It goes without saying that robots are more flexible, accurate, and efficient especially in repetitive processes as would be found in a vehicle assembly line. 

Reasons Why Automotive Manufacturers Use Robots

There are certain reasons why car assembly lines use robots for various functions but the most common reasons are;

  • Quality - Robots do have the same errors that human beings would inevitably have especially with repetitive tasks. They also have the same output over long periods of time without tiring.
  • Safety - Industrial jobs are often hazardous. They pose certain dangers to human workers from physical to psychological injury. Robots however can withstand any conditions they are programmed to handle.
  • Capacity - An assembly line that has robotic applications is bound to produce the expected output at the end of the day without hitches often suffered by a human workforce.

So which of these applications do manufacturers find the most crucial for robots to take over? Here are 7 of the most crucial robotic applications in automotive manufacturing.

Painting

This is probably one of the most tedious and highly toxic jobs on the automotive assembly line. One robot can easily do the job of multiple human workers with great precision and efficiency. Robots are also programmed to apply specific amounts of paint for each vehicle reducing wastage of material and time. 

Painting is a skilled task for which finding skilled labor is becoming more difficult and quite costly. Apart from painting, a robot can also be programmed to spray sealant, apply adhesives and primers with great precision.

Welding

Industrial robots are programmed and positioned precisely to weld panels on the bodies of the automobiles in the assembly line. Larger robots with long arms handle heavier panels while smaller robots take on smaller panels and welding in tight spots. 

Robots are able to preserve the quality of welding all through the production line despite the repetitive nature of this task. Not only can a robot do quality welding, the speed at which it handles this task can be set to maximize daily output.

Assembly

The assembly line in automotive manufacturing has many tasks that are slotted at different sections on the line. To keep this line moving without any delays or disruptions, different robots are programmed to handle each task available with precision and speed. 

There are tasks such as windshield installation, screwing, doors installation, car engine fitting, and so on. Each of these tasks is assigned to a specific robot or various robots who keep the line moving seamlessly.

Trimmings and Finishing

Consistency and perfect finishes that a robot can produce nearly all the time with repetitive tasks are what make them perfect for tasks such as trimming and finishing. This could include cutting away excess fabric from the dashboard and seats, polishing different molds, cutting away rough edges on die casts, and so on. 

A robot can be programmed to follow a laid-out path to trim away excess material. They can do this over and over without fail. Such processes require precision that only a robot can produce.

Vision

Robotic vision gives a robotic arm laser eye focus on the specific task that the robot is handling at the time. It gives accurate feedback and provides laser-sharp installation for processes that are usually fiddly. Such processes could include the installation of doors, a function that a robotic arm without vision may not properly do.

Parts Transfer and Tending

In the assembly line of an automotive manufacturing plant, there are certain processes that are dangerous for human workers to handle. These include moving, loading, and unloading heavy vehicle parts such as engines and CNC machines. Handling molten metal and highly heated parts of assembly also provides for dangerous working environments. Robots can easily handle such tasks with their human handlers only programming them from a safe distance. 

Handling and Collaboration

Robots in the assembly line have distinct functions that must work together for optimized output. Some robots handle tasks that are then passed on down the line for another task to be handled and so on. 

This collaboration is vital for success. While humans may carry these tasks out, robots are crucial for the fluid movement of the assembly line all through a production process.

Limitations of Robotic Applications in Automotive Manufacturing

The automotive industry has been a key leader in the uptake of robotic automation in manufacturing. This is basically driven by the advantages that car manufacturers have been able to reap over the decades of robotic technology use. However, that is not to say there haven’t been limitations that have faced many manufacturers such as;

  • Lack of capital - Investing in robots for a manufacturing company requires a lot of capital outlay which most manufactures may not have.
  • Lack of expert handlers - Not everyone can work with robots. Experts are required to run and service these robots for correct functionality.
  • Limitations to tasks that robots can handle - Despite the sharp increase in robotic installations, robots can still not handle all tasks.

Conclusion

That said, robots are not going anywhere, if anything, there is bound to be increased robotic installations in the automotive industry in the years to come. These crucial applications that a robot can handle are just a few of the myriads used in automotive manufacturing today.

You can be sure that there are more applications in the pipeline thanks to advancements in technology. The expected outcome of this will be increased outputs, shortened delivery times, and better products in the long run. Whatever the case, talk to us at Universal Robots to find out how much more our collaborative robots can do for your manufacturing business.




 



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