Automotive Assembly Systems–Assembly Line for Rear Suspension Modules

Fori recently supplied a module assembly system that included the Fori Flex Rail conveyance system which utilized Rail Guided Carts (RGCs) and a drive-thru module aligner for the assembly and alignment of a rear suspension module.

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Features:

  • Assembly Jobs Per Hour: 25 jobs per hour
  • Keys to Success: RGC conveyance, manual alignment backup
  • Results: Jobs per hour fulfillment, flexible assembly
  • Solutions: Unique track layout, drive through aligner

The module assembly system had a unique set of design constraints. One example was that the floor space available within the plant for the required rear suspension module was limited, requiring a common unload area with an existing assembly line. Due to the oddly shaped footprint available for assembly and the mandated unload area, the end user utilized Fori’s RGC to accommodate their needs for a flexible material handling and assembly system.

The system utilized a standardized Siemens control architecture, including the RGC, traffic control, and aligners. The standardization of Siemens controls was customer requested in order to match their existing controls architecture. In matching the controls architecture between all of the equipment, Fori was able to offer seamless integration into the customer’s assembly plant.

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The rear main assembly line was composed of 15 RGCs, seven operators, one automatic drive through alignment machine, and one manual backup alignment system.

For more information about Fori Automation’s RGCs, assembly systems, and aligners, please visit our website.

Automotive Assembly Systems–Assembly Line for Rear Suspension Modules

Fori supplied a rear module suspension assembly line utilizing Fori Rail Guided Carts (RGC) as a conveyance and assembly method alongside two fully automatic drive-thru module alignment systems.

Features:

  • Assembly Jobs Per Hour: 45 jobs
  • Keys to Success: RGC conveyance, drive through alignment
  • Results: High build efficiency
  • Solutions: Pallet error proofing
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Drive-thru Suspension Module Aligner for Automotive Assembly

The assembly line consisted of (22) RGCs, two drive-thru aligners, (16) operators and various torque tools. The product for the rear suspension module varied between all-wheel drive and rear wheel drive vehicle variations. The build pallet on top of each RGC accommodated those variants and manipulated the ride height setting of the five link suspension by manually setting the ride height wheel in the correct position verified by a switch on the pallet.

A drive-thru aligner was also utilized within the system to help streamline the process. A lift and locate unit was located in each drive-thru aligner that would pick the pallet from the RGC and accurately present the suspension assembly for alignment.

Utilizing Fori’s RGCs allowed for a timelier changeover. The RGC system also provided long term flexibility supporting:

  • Accommodating future product changes that could add new stations.
  • Production increases that can affect station to station cycle times.
  • Production line shape if required.
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Fori Rail Guided Carts (RGC) with Custom Tooling Pallet

For more information about Fori Automation’s RGCs and assembly systems, please visit our website.

 

Automotive Assembly Systems — Assembly Line for Suspension Modules

Fori retrofitted an existing assembly line to accommodate the integration of a new vehicle platform.

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The required changes to the existing front corner, rear corner, rear main line, and front main line were accompanied by many challenges, including:

  • An increase of jobs per hour (62 jobs per hour)
  • Minimal downtime during retrofit
  • Increased product complexity
  • Rework of two existing module aligners

During extensive layout and process reviews, all areas that required rework were identified so a plan could be developed to add field kits which consisted of new portions of assembly line. In order to be flexible and to accommodate the heavy variation in product, a number of robotic torque applications were added each with a common trombone torque tool to be utilized on all module complexity types.

In order to accommodate the new product, two additional aligners were reworked from another customer plant and installed on a new conveyor section of the assembly line.

For more information about Fori Automation’s assembly products, please visit our website.

 

Automotive Assembly Systems: Assembly Line for Axle Modules

Fori recently supplied a module assembly line for axle assembly. The production line consisted of a Fori twin strand conveyance system with manual assembly stations, automatic Lateral Run Out (LRO) and automatic end of line robotic vision system for inspection.

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Features:

  • Assembly Jobs Per Hour: 81 jobs
  • Keys to Success: Inverted assembly process, integrated robots for vision inspection, lateral run out with WSS testing
  • Results: High build efficiency, reduction in rejected parts

The required equipment was met with a few unique challenges and aspects:

  • Inverted assembly and unloading of the vehicle side up
  • Unique LRO testing and retry methodology
  • Inverted robotic vision verification
  • Minimal area available for assembly line
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Robotic vision verification

Prior to testing the LRO, the hub and rotor must be assembled on a test fixture complete with constant velocity. The joint and hub fasteners are then tightened according to production standard and are able to withstand an axial load of 100 kN. In order to accomplish these items the equipment had to lift the axle from the pallet prior to being secured.

Due to the rotors being unable to be retained flat against the hub, the equipment could not guarantee “non-contamination” that could potentially produce a fault during LRO. In order to correct this the “retry method” of the equipment was to remove the rotor, index to the next rotary present pattern and reinstall the rotor to the hub prior to LRO testing.

For more information regarding Fori Automation’s assembly or end of line systems, please visit our website.

 

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) – Tunnel AGVs for Pallet Transfer

Fori recently designed and built a Tunnel AGV to support its global customers. The Tunnel AGVs are utilized for transporting product and dunnage throughout the production process.

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The Tunnel AGV pictures includes a Roller Conveyor companion cart for Pallet Transfer.

Features:

  • Guidance Technology: Magnetic bar, inertial with pencil magnets
  • Capacity: Up to 10,000 lbs./4,545 kg. (can be increased upon request)
  • Safety: Safety scanners and bumpers, Siemens safety PLC, system interlocks
  • Controls: Siemens open architecture, vehicle management system
  • Keys to Success: Custom designed chassis, highly accurate and repeatable
  • Results: Improved flexibility

The Fori Tunnel AGVs are capable of automated docking and transport of companion carts carrying up to 10,000 pounds. The design intent was to build a vehicle that was modular and interchangeable. In order to increase process flexibility the Tunnel AGVs are capable of docking to various companion carts, each serving a unique purpose.

Applications include pallet transfer via roller conveyors, lift tables and powered trunnions. Automated docking to the companion carts is completed with two docking or hitch pins. The docking pins ensure proper alignment to the companion cart for repeatable pick and drop.

The Tunnel AGV was designed to provide a high capacity material handling solution in the smallest footprint possible. The vehicle is comprised of two fixed drive wheels allowing for bi-directional travel and zero turn capability.

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A Fori Vehicle Management System (VMS) is utilized for scheduling of vehicles and traffic management of the system. The vehicle controls are based on an open architecture utilizing a Siemens safety PLC, eliminating the black box technology that is commonly used across the industry. The Tunnel AGV has proven to be a cost effective and reliable material handling system for a variety of applications.

For more information on Fori’s automated material handling products, please visit our website.

 

Non-Automotive Assembly: Manual Vertical Conveyor System for Motor Cycle Assembly

Fori recently supplied an assembly system for an american motorcycle manufacturer. The system comprised of manual push pallets on a vertical conveyor system consisting of a main build line and two vertical lift support stands.

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Features:

  • Assembly Units Per Day: 500 units / 2 shifts
  • Keys to Success: Operator ergonomics, flexible tooling, loop configuration, modular sections for line expansion
  • Results: Quality built assemblies, on time turnkey install

Not all projects require high levels of automated equipment in order to meet the end users production requirements. This project is a great example of how Fori took a powered vertical conveyor system and redesigned it to a manual push pallet system based on cycle times and customer budget requirements. The updated design provided the customer increased flexibility for their long term build process. The line was designed in modular sections for future expansion of increased production as required based on customer demand.

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The ability to be flexible with the pallet provided the ability to use the vertical conveyor for more than current parts or model changes. Overhead support for tooling was a jib boom that bolted to the floor to remove the assembly to dunnage.

For more information about Fori’s assembly solutions, please visit our website.

 

Automated MIG Welding Assembly System for Automotive Components

The Robotic MIG Welding system contains resistance spot welding, projection welding, drawn arc welding and a sealer application.

Features:

  • Assembly Cycle Time: 54 seconds
  • Keys to Success: Integrated robots, custom designed turn tables, custom precision welding
  • Results: Decreased cycle time and increased quality

The robotic weld system provided accommodates for multiple structural end item assemblies that consisted of resistance spot welding, projection welding, drawn arc welding, as well as a sealer application. The system contained multiple welding cells with a total of (50) robots.

The end item assemblies within this program were Load Beams, Rear Quarter Inner, Rear Closure Inner Assembly, Dash Assembly, Cowl Side, Center Floor Pan Assembly and Sill Outer.

Dial indexers where integrated into a number of the weld cells to improve the efficiency of the robots. Within the process some robots carried weld guns while others were material handling robots that moved the assemblies through pedestal welders (spot, projection and drawn arc) or pedestal sealers.

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Fori USA was responsible for Project Management, Engineering, Assembly and Integration. All cells were setup and run off at Fori’s global headquarters in Shelby Township, MI. Fori Mexico was responsible for installation and buy off at the end user’s production facility.

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For more information on Fori Automation’s weld lines, please visit our website.

 

Automated Guided Vehicles for Robotic Drill & Fill System

Fori recently provided two high capacity Aerospace AGVs for the automated transport of a mobile robotic drill and fill system.

Mobile Robot for Automated Drill & Fill
Image Source

Features:

  • Guidance Technology: Magnetic bar, natural feature/laser contour
  • Capacity: 40,000 lbs./18,181 kg.
  • Safety: Safety scanners and bumpers, Siemens safety PLC, system interlocks
  • Controls: Siemens open architecture
  • Keys to Success: Custom designed chassis, highly accurate and repeatable
  • Results: Improved flexibility

The two high capacity AGVs (transporting mobile robotic platforms with weights up to 40,000 pounds) have been designed to accommodate projected production. The Fori AGVs will be the primary method of transporting the mobile robots between each of the necessary drilling stations.

The AGVs were developed to increase system automation, flexibility, and remove the traditional monuments that are generally required for automated drilling applications. The design intent was to build a vehicle that was modular and interchangeable. The AGVs were designed to accommodate multiple mobile robots, the software is modular, and simplifies the communication between the Fori AGV and mobile robot.

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The Fori AGV is required to locate within +/- 5mm to an existing fuselage transporter. The Fori system utilizes a natural feature and camera based guidance system, which accommodates unexpected location of the transporter. The Fori system overcomes the variability of the fuselage transporters accuracy by measuring the surface of the transporter to generate angular offsets and utilizes a SICK camera and reflector based system for final location. Once positioned, the mobile robot automatically docks to the transporter for power, communication, and pneumatics.

Automated movement is handled through the tethered Siemens Mobil Panel. The operators are able to select drill positions on either the Fori HMI or robot HMI. Once selected the Fori AGV is responsible for safely and accurately lifting and transporting the two mobile robots between 16 different drill positions.

For more information about our drilling platform AGVs, please visit our website.

 

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for Composite Wing Assembly

 Fori recently provided seven high capacity Aerospace AGVs for the automated transport of tooling for spar assembly, supporting the production of composite wing assemblies. 

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Features:

  • Guidance Technology: Magnetic bar, inertial with pencil magnets, natural feature/laser contour
  • Capacity: 120,000 lbs./54,545 kg.
  • Safety: Safety scanners and bumpers, Siemens safety PLC, system interlocks
  • Controls: Siemens open architecture, vehicle management system
  • Keys to Success: Vehicle synchronization, custom designed chassis, and highly accurate and repeatable.
  • ResultsImproved flexibility and decreased crane usage

The seven high capacity AGVs, capable of auto-leveling and synchronized transport of tooling up to 120,000 pounds have been designed to accommodate projected wing production. The Fori AGVs will be the primary method of transporting the tooling and product through the assembly process.  Traditional assembly systems rely heavily on overhead crane utilization, the AGV based solution eliminates the reliance on cranes.

The AGVs were developed to support a lean, automated manufacturing methodology. The goal of the project was to automate the entire material handling process for the assembly of the spars. Notably, the load and unload of the autoclaves used for curing the composite wing spars. The loading of the autoclave is completed utilizing a natural feature guidance system, the AGV uses the walls of the autoclave for the guidance in and out, while still maintaining +/- five mm accuracy.

The design intent was to build a vehicle that was modular and interchangeable. The AGV system is required to transport many tools of different lengths and weights. The AGV system needs to be able to accommodate synchronization of up to three AGVs during the lift and transport from assembly stations.

Each of the AGVs is outfitted with four servo based lifters and a laser alignment system which provides measurement feedback to the on-board PLC for the dynamic leveling of the tooling during transport. The system must maintain levelness within +/- 1/8” from each end of the tool.

A Fori Vehicle Management System has been provided to monitor system I/O, communication between the AGVs, tooling and automated assembly stations. Scheduling of moves also occurs at the Fori VMS.

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For more information about Fori Automation’s aerospace assembly products, please visit our website.

 

Fori Flex Floor Product Line for Flexible Assembly & Material Handling Systems

Fori Automation, a global leader in the design, build and integration of material handling, assembly, testing and welding systems has further expanded its assembly and material handling product lines. Fori has added a new material handling platform to its ever growing product line to help facilitate material flow through today’s manufacturing facilities.

The Fori Flex Floor product line is a flexible material handling and assembly system that is designed to fit around the customer process and product, whereas many of the other material handling products on the market require the customer process and product to fit around the material handling system. The Flex Floor platform includes a variety of vehicles based on the same architecture that have varying levels of capability depending on the end users specific needs.

Fori - Flex Floor Logo

The Fori Flex Floor utilizes a heavy duty extrusion style frame that enables the footprint of each style vehicle to be modified to fit the product being assembled or the materials being moved. The Flex Floor platform utilizes commercially available drive wheels, casters, batteries, controls components and guidance. The Flex Floor platform is based on a Siemens Safety PLC based architecture, providing the end user an open architecture. Many of the other products on the market include a “black box”, requiring the user to enlist support from the equipment supplier. Each assembly and material handling system can be supplied with a Fori Vehicle Management System (VMS), enabling the system to be fully autonomous, only requiring input for scheduling of moves either from the user or from the plant production system, the Fori VMS takes care of the rest. The Flex Floor vehicles are outfitted with the latest safety components available on the market. At a minimum the vehicles are supplied with perimeter Safety Scanners, Indicator Lights, Alarms and E-stops. The Safety Scanners provide collision avoidance for the end user to ensure safety for the operator and that no damage occurs to the product or part. Additionally, each vehicle is designed to be user friendly and virtually maintenance free for the end user.

Fori Rail Guided Carts RGCs for Automotive Module Assembly Systems
Example of Fori Flex Floor – Rail Guided Cart (RGC)  utilized for a Corner Module Assembly Line

Flex Floor – RGC: Flex Floor Rail Guided Carts (RGCs) are a direct replacement for traditional, monument based conveyor systems that are typically utilized in assembly processes. Fori RGCs utilize a low profile, floor mounted rail for tracking and a single, suspended drive wheel to propel the vehicle through the assembly process.

Fori - Flex Floor Rail - Flex Floor Rail Guided Carts (RGCs) for Module Assembly Systems

Flex Floor 1.0: Flex Floor 1.0 is a cost effective, scalable Automated Guided Cart (AGC) that is used for a variety of applications, including assembly and material transport. The vehicle includes a single drive wheel, perfect for loop style assembly and material handling systems.

Fori - Flex Floor 1.0 - Module Assembly Automated Guided Cart (AGC)
Flex Floor 2.0: Flex Floor 2.0 is based on the same platform as the Flex Floor 1.0, but provides more capability by utilizing dual drive wheels. The results are a vehicle with double the capacity and Omni-directional capability. The vehicle is capable of spinning on its center and moving laterally, resulting improved layout flexibility and the capability to transport larger assemblies, such as large truck frames.

Fori - Flex Floor 2.0 - Module Assembly Automated Guided Cart (AGC)
Flex Floor 2.0T: Flex Floor 2.0T is a Tunnel style AGC that utilizes the same architecture as the Flex Floor 2.0, but also includes (2) electric hitch pins that are utilized for transportation of companion carts. These companion carts are utilized for material transport and can include a variety of attachments, including roller conveyor, lift tables and powered trunnions.

Fori - Flex Floor 2.0T - Tunnel Style - Material Handling - Automated Guided Cart (AGC)

Fori Automation, Inc. privately held and U.S. owned and operated since 1984, specializes in the custom design, build and integration of automated material handling, assembly, testing and welding systems for the automotive and non-automotive industries. With over 30 years of experience and seven locations across four continents, we are positioned to support our customers around the globe.