What You Need to Know.
In this article we will take a closer look at:
2.. Types of Automation Used in Automotive Powertrain Mfg
> Fixed Automation
> Programmable Automation
> Flexible Automation
3. Powertrain Machining & Assembly Transfer Lines
4. Examples of Automoation Powertrain Machining & Assembly
The automobile industry is no stranger to automation. It is a pioneer in this area and is one of the largest users of automation devices in the industrial manufacturing arena. Very little in automotive manufacturing or their supply chain is not fully optimized.
As traditional automotive industry manufacturers struggle to stay profitable in the short term and alive in the long, good workholding is recognized as the key to manufacturing automation.
Applications of automation in the automotive industry typically include:
> Inspection and Measurement
Each of these applications integrates robots, jigs, fixtures and workholding devices into their automated manufacturing designs.
Our goals in this article are to introduce the automotive industry’s application of automation and workholding in powertrain machining and assembly processes, describe the types of automation used, give a basic overview of automated transfer lines used in powertrain machining and assembly processes and provide some examples of automotive powertrain machining and assembly applications.
The future of automation and workholding in automotive manufacturing is progressing with robotics, machine vision, cobots, and other digital technologies. To take advantage of the growth in automation, you must know your goals, what affects production and the benefits each technology provides. When in doubt, minimize complexity, follow proper engineering principles and work with vendors that provide good customer service.
The types of automation used in automotive powertrain manufacturing include:
Characterized by large volume production. Also called hard automation, most programming is contained within individual machines. The speed and sequence of processes are set by the equipment or production line.
Characterized by making several dozens to thousands of parts, programmable automation is associated with batch production. It gives manufacturers the ability to produce more types of parts or products. However, downtime is needed to perform changeovers. And downtime is expensive and has led to an extension of programmable automation called flexible automation.
Flexible automation can perform changeovers automatically. This may limit operating equipment to producing parts that share similar tools or require additional devices to make automated changeovers possible.
The first step in factory automation is to automate the moving of parts between various machines or workstations.
A transfer line is a manufacturing system which consists of a predetermined sequence of machines connected by an automated material handling system and designed for working on a small family of parts. Parts can be moved singularly because there’s no need for batching when carrying parts between process stations (as opposed to a job shop for example).
The line can be synchronous, meaning that all parts advance with the same speed, or asynchronous, meaning buffers exist between stations where parts wait to be processed. Not all transfer lines must be geometrically straight lines, for example, circular solutions have been developed which make use of rotary tables, however using buffers becomes almost impossible.
A typical transfer line sequence involves raw work parts entering at one end of the transfer line, getting processed sequentially at various stations and then coming out of other end of transfer line as a finished part.
A crucial problem when using transfer line manufacturing is line balancing: a trade-off between increasing productivity and minimizing cost conserving total processing time.
And consider that by having a very few machines versus 100 or more stations, there is less transfer and far less clamping and locating. Not only is moving parts a huge form of waste, but when you have a vast array of fixtures, maintaining the locators and clamps so there is repeatability is a massive undertaking in and of itself.
Some examples of automotive powertrain machining and assembly applications are:
Automotive powertrain machining and assembly processes integrate robots, jigs, fixtures and workholding devices into their automated manufacturing designs.
They use fixed, programmable or flexible automation to accomplish their throughput and cost objectives.
Most often some form of automated transfer line is employed to accomplish their manufacturing goals.
This article introduced the automotive industry’s application of automation and workholding in powertrain machining and assembly processes, described the types of automation used, gave a basic overview of automated transfer lines used and provided some examples of automotive powertrain machining and assembly applications.