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Smart factory solutions for the automotive industry

The Automotive industry is currently leading the development of manufacturing and assembly concepts and processes. The development is driven by environmental requirements, with the introduction of alternative drivelines, and fierce market competition, with an explosion of the number of models and variants, as a means of meeting the competition. These two trends call for increased flexibility in production with leading automotive manufacturers rapidly approaching the vision of “mass production one”. To produce multiple car models or even a mix of cars and motorcycles in one assembly factory is the new norm.

Flexibility of the assembly line

Flexible manufacturing systems are becoming more popular and can be divided into two types of areas: machine flexibility and routing flexibility. Machine flexibility refers to the ability of using several machines for the same operations and the system’s ability to customise changes such as volume and capabilities. Routing flexibility refers to a system’s ability to adapt to new products and in what order the assembly puts the products together.

Cobots

In the context of intelligent manufacturing, the cognitive robots can perceive information uncertainty, change scheduling management and adjust manufacturing behaviour to cope independently with a complex manufacturing problem. Using distributed algorithms for reconfiguration of self-reconfigurable robots will drastically simplify the complexity of configuring robots. The Cobots can work independently and deal with changeable scheduling of a smart factory with connected assembly lines.

Quality

Industry 4.0 can support increased product quality in several areas, for example: enhanced customisation, increased customer interaction, data based value-design, and changes from product offerings to service offerings.

We have the know-how and the knowledge of how to architect a connected ecosystem

Atlas Copco has provided connected products for more than a decade. The company has, over many years, built up knowledge in connected assembly processes and has extensive experience of how to architect a connected ecosystem. Today, Atlas Copco is a market leader in connected tools and has the largest service organisation of all tool suppliers. This gives the company a unique position where it can not only gather the data but also analyse it. Then, with its expertise in assembly and tightening, the company can give specific recommendations on how to improve a connected assembly process, or recommend maintenance based on prescriptive analysis. Atlas Copco’s proven solutions are now further integrated horizontally and share data seamlessly between all applications supporting the life cycle of assembly, from applications supporting R&D, through production to applications used in service and analysis.

The integrated loop includes a portfolio of tools, systems and services for smart connected assembly;

- Programming the tool
- Operating the tool
- Process control system
- Operator support systems, operator guidance systems
- Quality control
- Service and maintenance systems
- Data collection and data analysis
- Data driven services

The future of the automotive smart factory industy

The Automotive industry is currently leading the development of manufacturing and assembly concepts and processes. The development is driven by environmental requirements, with the introduction of alternative drivelines, and fierce market competition, with an explosion of the number of models and variants, as a means of meeting the competition. These two trends call for increased flexibility in production with leading automotive manufacturers rapidly approaching the vision of “mass production one”. To produce multiple car models or even a mix of cars and motorcycles in one assembly factory is the new norm.

For assembly production the vision of “mass production one” is getting closer through new concepts where traditional moving assembly lines are replaced with new solutions based on AGV´s (Automated Guided Vehicles) that enable multiple and flexible flows on the shop floor. The assembly is set up with a main flow and multiple paths or extra loops to handle the differentiation in models and variants. This also requires new concepts for managing material flows and the set-up of stations with tools and control software. One approach is kitting of material and tools that will follow the car in the flow throughout the assembly process.

This is enabled by wireless electric tools that know:

- Where they are physically located and which step
- the process to perform at this location
- What model and variant is to be assembled
- What material or component to mount
- What screw or bolt to use
- Tool fixture
- What tool program to use for each specific tightening

All these needs to be dynamic in the most advanced assembly processes of today.