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
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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.

Automotive End of Line: Wheel Alignment, Headlamp Aiming, Roll & Brake Testing

Fori China designed, built and integrated an end of line testing system for an automotive manufacturer.

Features:

  • Jobs Per Hour: 65 jobs
  • Testing Completed: wheel alignment, headlamp aiming, roll and brake
  • Results: Increased production rate, reduced labor, improved quality

The end of line testing system included: non-contact wheel alignment, automatic headlamp aiming and roll and brake testing.

The wheel alignment machine is designed for automatic measuring and manual adjustment of the vehicle parameters.  The system was designed to measure toe and camber. The system is designed for a wide range of wheel bases and wheel tread width and tire sizes.

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An integrated headlamp aimer measures the vehicle headlight intensity and position automatically and guide the operator to adjust the lamp position semi-automated. The “Fori Vision” aiming unit utilizes a camera based system to measure the intensity and position of the headlight.

Roll and brake testing is also completed on the end of line system, which includes testing for acceleration, cruise control, transmission, rear gear, dynamic braking and engine.

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For more information about Fori Automation’s end of line testing solutions, please visit our website.

Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) for Automotive Chassis Decking Line

Fori Korea provided one precision, battery powered automotive chassis marriage AGV for an electric car manufacturer.

 

Features:

  • Guidance Technology: Magnetic tape
  • Capacity: 4,000 lbs. / 1,818 kg.
  • Safety: Safety scanners and bumpers, system interlocks
  • Controls: Allen Bradley Open Architecture
  • Keys to Success: Custom designed chassis, accurate and repeatable
  • Results: Increased flexibility, decreased infrastructure

The battery powered chassis marriage AGV with dual independent lifters is capable of lifting and transporting up to  4,000 pounds (1,818 kilograms) in order to install the front and rear suspension and drivetrain modules.

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This AGV was developed to support the end users lean, automated, manufacturing methodology. Not only will the AGV enable the end user to reduce their hardware investment, there will be significant flexibility in the assembly process. The guidance system and reduced plant infrastructure allows the AGV to easily interact with other systems and processes. The AGV is also outfitted with multiple safety measures that ensure collision avoidance.

The chassis marriage AGV is responsible for accurate and repeatable location of a part within the station for a reliable chassis marriage process. The AGV will provide increased flexibility, safety, and decreased product damage, thus increasing profitability within the manufacturing process for the end user.

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For more information about Fori Automation’s AGVs and chassis marriage systems, please visit our website.

Assembly Systems: Cockpit Assembly Line

Fori China recently designed, built and integrated a cockpit assembly line in Shanghai.

Features:

  • Jobs Per Hour: 60 jobs
  • Results: Increased production rate, reduced labor, decreased injury concerns

The Fori China project aimed to improve the productivity and ease of assembly for a cockpit. The manipulators were attached to a steel structure that is used for assisting the operator while installing the cockpit assembly into the vehicle. After the cockpit is attached to the manipulator, it is conveyed to the install location, the goal is to reduce potential of damage to the workpiece. Once the workpiece is located within the vehicle, the manipulator holds the panel until tightening of the bolts is completed.

The manipulator has improved production efficiency, reduced product damage, and most importantly improve safety for the operators. For more information about Fori’s aerospace tooling, please visit our website.