Cobots for Automotive Manufacturing

The automotive industry was one of the first to automate with industrial robots. Today, they are still the largest user of industrial robots, using them in nearly all aspects of automobile production. While we are used to seeing automotive assembly lines with robots like the FANUC R2000ib or the ABB 6640, there is a new type of robot being deployed for automotive manufacturing. Collaborative robots have been one of the biggest trends in robotics over the past few years, with many industries incorporating them into their production processes including the automotive industry.

Cobots are designed to safely operate alongside workers without any barriers. They feature force sensors, rounded edges, and no pinch points making them perfectly suitable for direct human interaction. Their compact size and affordability make them a great addition for those looking to boost productivity without sacrificing space. Cobots provide support to human workers, taking over repetitive, dirty, or tedious tasks so workers can focus on more critical aspects of manufacturing. Cobot automation is ideal for processes requiring flexibility and that may not be suitable for complete robotic automation. Cobots have become a welcomed addition in the automotive industry as it has become one of the top industries for collaborative robots. Some of the applications being automated by cobots in the automotive sector include:

  • • Assembly - Collaborative robots can assist with many facets of the automotive assembly process. Their size and payload allow them to access confined spaces and handle light parts. The FANUC Cr-15ia may be deployed to automatically assemble seats or install car handles. Cobots can repeat these tasks over and over with accuracy and high repeatability ensuring all parts are assembled correctly.

  • • Welding - Welding automation is a newer application for cobots. We are familiar with seeing articulated robots like the FANUC R2000ib spot welding car frames, but some collaborative robots can automate the welding of smaller automobile components. Arc welding, laser welding, ultrasonic welding, and plasma welding are some of the processes being completed by cobots.

  • • Painting - Automotive painting has been automated by industrial robots for several years. Now cobots are being used to automate painting applications in addition to traditional six axis robots. Collaborative robots ensure even and uniform paint coatings with their controlled movements for high-quality finishes.

  • • Inspection - Collaborative robots can be integrated with robotic vision systems in order to automate inspection processes. Inspections are critical in the automotive industry to ensure safety and quality of each vehicle manufactured. Using workers can be unreliable and lead to inconsistencies. Cobots can detect defects that may be too small for the human eye to see and they inspect the entire automobile thoroughly.

  • • Material Removal - Material removal processes such as trimming, cutting, and grinding can be performed by cobots. Automated material removal is often necessary to shape or finish vehicle components and requires great precision, making them ideal for cobot intervention.

  • • Machine Tending - Cobots can also be used to assist automotive workers with machine tending. The Universal UR10 can load and unload parts from machines saving workers from the hazards of tending manufacturing equipment while significantly increasing productivity.

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