The application of robotics in the automotive industry

By June 11, 2018

For years, the automotive industry has employed the use of robotics for different applications. The introduction of the first industrial robot in the 1960s brought with it a lot of changes in the manufacturing industry, including the automotive industry.

In modern day, industries seek to have more efficient, precise and flexible production lines and thus the need for robots. There are a lot of enhancements in production lines in the attempt to make working easier for human workers. Introduction of automotive robots is one of the most successful ways industries have managed to do this.

Here are some of the most common robotics applications in automotive manufacturing.

Robotic vision

When the 2013 Ford Escape was being produced, the manufacturing company made a decision to try out a robotic arm with eyes. This was achieved by placing camera and laser on robotic wrists. The result of this was that the robot was able to see where it needs to install the car parts in the body assembly.

Robots make it possible for precision to be achieved when installing door panels, windshields, and fenders among other car body parts. Today, automotive robots are able to put proper offsets during the installation of parts. This way, robots are able to adopt different installation procedures when fitting parts in case there is a need for variation during production. With the precision offered by this application, there is a reduction in the gap between parts and thus causes noise reduction in cars due to the wind.

Collaborating robots

Robot to robot collaboration is also a common application of robotics in the automotive industry. In some automotive plants, the welding line is one of the most common areas where robot to robot collaboration is applied. For instance, it is possible to have the same type of robots working in numerous different workstations where handling robots and welding robots are in collaboration.

Some robots can be tasked with placing panels while other robots perform welding operations. With this kind of collaboration, some car manufacturers have found that a robotic line collaboration can perform at least 4000 car body welding jobs in cycles lasting only 86 seconds, which includes time taken to transfer operations.

The robotic hand

As much as the automotive industry makes the most use of industrial robots in the production line, human workers are required in the final stages of the completion process. Most of the manufacturing is done using automotive robotic arms, most assembly tasks are still done by human hands with tasks such as operations and wiring still being done by humans.

Robotic arms were created to make work easier for humans. Robotic arms are used in automotive industries to reduce the strain humans endure due to doing repetitive tasks. For instance, a robotic arm technology can offer a 10-pound gripping force supplementary to workers. These arm grippers come with installed sensors, simulated nerves, and actuators, tendons and muscles to help in reducing fatigue while increasing manual dexterity.

Collaborative robots

Collaborative robots (cobots) have become commonplace in most manufacturing plants. The automotive industry is one of the places collaborative robots are mostly used. The need for collaborative robots in manufacturing plants is meant to replace humans in performing repetitive tasks and task that pose a high risk for injuries. Automotive collaborative robots are used in the assembly of car doors. These robots help to install door sealants with precision as these are supposed to keep water and sound out of cars. Introduction of collaborative automotive robots alongside human employees increases productivity and also adds value to the workplace.

Painting jobs

While applying robots to car painting jobs is not new, it is still an important aspect of car manufacturing. The need for painting robots ensures that perfection is achieved when the car is painted, which can sometimes be hard to accomplish with human painters. Also, based on the car size, it is often easier for car manufacturers to employ the use of robots for this job. This guarantees that the job is done within the shortest time possible and consistency is achieved through the entire production line.