Automotive End of Line Testing Systems – Centering Platforms for ADAS Calibration

End of Line pneumatic centering platform for ADAS calibration process.

(2) Pneumatic centering platforms were provided for centering the vehicle during the ADAS calibration process. The centering actuators also included integrated string encoders to track the actual position of the vehicle for verifying centering within tolerance as required by the customer ADAS specifications.

The project required the platform be mounted to the plant floor, so entrance and ramps were included for pulling into the platform and driving off. Heavy duty roller saddles were included for this system to handle the high throughput of the heaviest vehicles.

The system also provided the means for adding floor targets, for a calibration of the surround view camera system. Additional ADAS devices were also integrated with the supplied centering system.

Assembly Line for Engine Dress, Transmission Marriage & Corner Module Marriage

Fori Automation recently provided a rail guided cart (RGC) based engine dress line. The RGC system was provided as a replacement for traditional conveyor based assembly systems.

In some ways, a traditional conveyor is reliable, proven & effective. However, when new challenges are proposed changes to the traditional methods are questioned, proven & improvements arise.

Fori’s RGCs were selected to accommodate the customer’s need for a flexible conveyance solution. The RGCs were unmatched in price when compared to traditional methods of overhead power & free chain conveyance systems. By pairing the Fori RGC with its kiln of flexible tooling, it enabled the assembly line to become whatever shape it wants without major rework to the entire system.

Not all customer plants are built the same. With the ability to provide a Rockwell or Siemens control solution Fori is able to best fit our customer’s needs. In this case, the plant is utilizing a Rockwell based controls architecture, offering seamless integration into the assembly plant.

The engine assembly line is composed of (37) RGCs & (43) operators. The new RGC assembly line was installed in late October & was production ready early first quarter of 2020.

Assembly & Alignment Line for Rear Suspension Modules

Fori Automation recently provided a module assembly and alignment line with limited floor space available. The system is between an existing assembly line & plant wall with the inability to get material to all parts of the assembly line required a unique process.

The minimal footprint available for assembly provided challenges for common 22unload areas within an existing assembly line. The Fori RGCs were utilized to accommodate our customer’s need for a flexible material handling system.

The assembly system included a consolidated kit area. The kit area was specific to loading and hand starting parts followed by an area for torqueing. Due to the foot print constraints the process had to be strategic on how to best utilize the available space. The project also included a fully automatic suspension module aligner & backup semi-automatic aligner.

The utilization of Siemens controls matched the controls architecture for the end user and provided a seamless integration into the assembly plant.

The rear main assembly line was composed of (17) RGCs, (16) operators, (1) automatic drive through suspension module alignment machine & one semi-automatic backup alignment system.

The new RGC assembly line was installed early June of 2018 & was production capable in Fall of 2018.

Battery Decking – Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for Vehicle Battery Marriage

Fori Automation has further improved on its standard Tugger AGV design by incorporating a Fori chain lift and pallet tooling for lithium ion battery decking.

Fori AGVs have been used for a variety of material handling applications within the automotive industry. Most recently Fori was enlisted to supply a derivative of the standard Tugger product line that has a built in electric lift and pallet tooling to be used for marrying the electric vehicle battery to the chassis.

The AGV was required to synchronize with the vehicle chassis in the overhead carrier. The synchronization was a challenge in itself as there was no physical tracking arm. All of the vehicle synchronization for battery decking was completed  utilizing tracking cameras and encoder positioning. The most important process consideration was the safe and reliable positioning of the product for the operators.

Further improvement was the integration of a Fori Vehicle Management System (VMS). The Fori VMS allows for vehicle scheduling, charging, vehicle status information and traffic control. The Fori battery decking AGV platform partnered with the Fori VMS is a proven and robust product that can be applied to a variety of material handling applications.

Dock N’ Lock – Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for Product Delivery

Cost effective, flexible AGV solutions have allowed automotive companies to implement a safe, reliable and repeatable material handling solution within their build processes.

The Dock N’ Lock AGVs were built to fit within existing plants and each plants respective material handling strategy. The AGVs were commissioned to replace non-value added material handling tasks. Specifically as a direct replacement for all of the fork lifts, creating a “fork free” environment. The Dock N’ Lock AGVs are responsible for auto-docking to the pictured companion carts. Previous methodology utilizing fork lifts was not a safe or reliable option, the Dock N’ Lock AGVs solved this problem.

The automated locking feature is what differentiates the Dock N’ Lock AGVs from standard Tuggers. The AGVs were required to auto-couple to newly developed racks, doing so removed the need for operator interface and allowed the end user to relocate operators to value added activities. The vehicles were required to repeatedly locate within +/- 10mm and travel at speeds up to 200 feet per minute.

A fully integrated, automated Vehicle Management System (VMS) was also provided. The VMS handles the traffic routing between the 19+ vehicles that are currently operating within the system. The VMS has the ability to track and store faults, monitor battery consumption and ensure safe operation by monitoring all safety devices.

Automated Alignment System for Rear Suspension Modules

Fori Automation Designed & Built (3) automated static alignment cells. This is a pallet pass through system that adjusts camber & toe. The aligner handles (2) vehicle models that have different geometry.

The project challenges included:
• Packaging additional tooling
• Limited module tryout

Providing customized equipment such as this starts with a concept design phase. Fori engineering was requested to provide a detailed engineering study. Upon completion of engineering and feasibility study, it was determined that the (2) new models could be ran together. Through the design, process and simulation, Fori was able to fit multiple tooling features for the (2) new models with different geometry.

 

 

The suspension module aligner knows which model is in the station based on a broadcast from the OEM, as well as position sensors placed in the machine, automatically initiating the correct tooling combinations.

A challenging portion for any project is the ability to debug and tryout the process. The key to success was analyzing every failure mode with precision in order to correct and provide results that would normally require more debug time.

Module Assembly Line for Front Coil Over Shock

Large numbers of variations in assemblies matched with high job per hour requirements is challenging. Fori Automation provides solutions to correctly sequence multiple variants to the assembly area. These systems are designed to maximize floor space and can be quickly updated to accommodate variant count changes.

The module assembly project consisted of a lean automated system. The commodities involved are FCOS assembly (both spring & air ride models).

The choice of automated conveyance for this project was the Fori’s rail guided cart (RGC). The customer currently has (4) programs in production utilizing the Fori RGC with a 5th project to be operational in 2020.

The FCOS sequencing & assembly system consisted of (7) RGCs, (4) semi-automatic FCOS assembly cells and (1) upper isolator to upper mount assembly press. This  system also included a large sequencing area. This “market place” style area worked directly with the customers manufacturing execution system (MES) to direct the RGC cart to the correct product storage position. Pick lights were activated to assist operators in the selection of the correct variant of spring, shock or air shock as requested by the OEM.

The new RGC assembly line was production capable in September of 2017.

Automated Guided Vehicles for Composite Tooling Cart Transport

Fori recently supplied (2) automated Tugger AGVs for Aerospace composite tooling cart transport.

The Fori Tugger AGVs were supplied to transport a variety of composite tooling parts with total transfer weight up to 30,000 lbs. The Tugger AGV system included auto docking to the product carts. The purpose of the auto docking is to eliminate the need for operator intervention to couple to the carts and transfer them through the assembly plant.

The Fori Tugger AGV is utilized in two configurations, first as a Tugger pulling tooling carts in a single direction. The Tugger AGV is also used as a Dock N’ Lock. In the Dock N’ Lock configuration, the AGV automatically connects to the tooling cart and pulls it against the bumpers (shown in bottom picture). The attachment allows the tooling cart to rotate with the Tugger AGV and back it into work stations as required by the process.

The Tugger AGVs were commissioned to ensure safe and reliable product transfer. Previously this transfer was completed with fork lifts or manned tow vehicles. The AGVs eliminated non-value added material handling and provided a hands off system for transporting product through the assembly process.

 

AGV System for Robotic Weld Line

Fori Automation recently supplied a number of powered drive wheel systems for an automotive Tier 1 supplier. The drive wheels were integrated into a customer supplied tooling cart providing automated movement of product through the automotive assembly process.

Automotive Assembly with Powered Drive Wheel System on Assembly Cart

The Fori powered drive wheel systems include modular drive wheel units that are mounted to new or existing assembly carts. Once mounted the drive wheels automate the transfer of materials through the manufacturing facility. The drive wheel systems provide the same capability as an off the shelf Automated Guided Carts (AGCs). The powered drive wheel systems can be manually moved by the operator or can be supplied with an integrated vehicle management system (VMS) or traffic control to automatically control movement from station to station.

The key benefits of a powered drive wheel system include:

  • Reduced reliance on fork lifts or manned Tuggers.
  • Improve ergonomics, reduction in injuries in relation to pushing or pulling assembly or kit carts.
  • Repeatable, reliable delivery of goods and consistent line pulse for assembly operations.
  • Ability to integrate into manufacturing execution system (MES) for data analysis and production streamlining.
  • Safe transfer of goods through the use of onboard Safety PLC and associated safety devices.
  • Accurate positioning of carts and goods, standard station positioning is +/- 10 mm when utilizing a Fori provided vehicle management system (VMS).

Drive wheel systems include their own self-contained power supply, control panel, collision avoidance devices, guidance hardware and tethered (or wireless) pendant for manual control. Power supplies include sealed lead acid batteries and lithium ion product offerings. The controls architecture is safety PLC based and available in Siemens or Rockwell. Guidance or navigation options available include optical, magnetic or natural feature utilizing the onboard safety scanners.

Powered Drive Wheel System with Safety Scanner, Alarm & Lights, E-Stops & HMI

Total carrying capacity of the powered drive wheel systems is accommodated by a variety of standard drive wheel sizes. Capacities can be increased by up-sizing the drive wheel and motor combination or adding more of the smaller drive wheel units. Drive wheel systems can also be configured to allow for different levels of maneuverability. The maneuverability ranges from uni-directional, loop based systems, up to omni-directional systems for complex material handling or assembly systems with the integration of two or more drive wheels.

The drive wheel systems are structured for current or future automation with the ability to retrofit the assembly cart later in the production cycle. The assembly cart can be designed to accommodate mounting of the drive wheels and required equipment at a later date. For existing carts, our design team will work with the production team to define the required changes for addition of the powered drive wheel system. The ability to add automation as production increases, decreases the initial capital expenditures, allowing production rates to increase before adding the automation required for automated or manual transport through the assembly process.

Powered Drive Wheel System with Single Powered Drive Wheel & Support Casters for Assembly Cart & Product Transport through Automotive Assembly Process

Overall the powered drive wheel system provides a flexible, safe and reliable material handling and assembly solution for the a wide range of industries and processes.

To learn more about Fori’s available products please visit our website or contact us at sales@foriauto.com.

Fori Automation de Mexico Tour & Company Overview

Fori Automation de Mexico facility was completed in 2019 and offers more than 90,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. 

The new facility was built to support the continued growth of Fori Automation de Mexico. Fori Mexico has been an intricate part of the continued growth of Fori Automation globally. The new facility will enable Fori Mexico to take on larger projects and support our domestic and global customer base. Below is an interactive tour and company overview for Fori Automation de Mexico. 

Fori Mexico currently has over 50 employees and a plan is in place to hire over 20 more within the next three years. Pictures of the new facility and start of the project can be found below. The new facility is located in Coahuila, Mexico.

Fori Mexico
Fori Automation de Mexico Headquarters
IMG_3247
Robotic Welding System for Automotive Frame Assembly

Fori Automation is a global designer and builder of Material Handling, Assembly, Testing and Welding Systems. For more information on Fori Automation’s products and locations, please visit our website.