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.

IMG_0586

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
IMG_0580
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.

Fori - Tunnel AGV 3

 

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.

EI - Midbody AGV (15604) - 1

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.

 

Automated Assembly Lines for the Automotive & Non-Automotive Industries

Fori Automation specializes in the custom design, build and integration of automated assembly lines for a variety of industries and products.  Fori has supplied assembly lines for the automotive, construction and recreational vehicle industries.

Our dedicated assembly and automation group has the experience to process a wide range of assembly systems across nearly any industry. Our assembly systems include: Axle, battery pack, bullet manufacturing, cockpit, door, electric stator, engine dress, glass roof, headliner, seat, motorcycle front end & saddle pack, electric scooter and many others.

Fori’s main system verticals which include, automated assembly, material handling, robotic welding and testing, enable us to be a one stop equipment supplier for the entire assembly system. Within the main system verticals, include vast experience with error proofing, data collection, MES integration, lift assists, auto-torquing and robotic handling.

Our latest material handling systems, such as our Rail Guided Carts (RGCs) or Automated Guided Carts (AGCs) have been a differentiator for our Tier 1 and OEM customers from a flexibility and scalability perspective versus a traditional conveyor system.

RGCs and AGCs improve tear down and setup times and also allow the end user to scale their material handling system based on projected production rates. The ability to re-utilize their capital expenditure on future programs through a simple tooling change is another long term benefit.  Below is a success story where one of automotive Tier 1 customers utilized a fully automated assembly line with RGCs for their assembly system.

For more information on Fori Automation’s available products and automated systems, please visit our website.

Automated Material Handling Products for the Automotive & Non-Automotive Industries

We are proud to announce that we have added (4) automated material handling platforms to help facilitate material flow through today’s manufacturing facilities.

These developments include Automated Tuggers, Powered Drive Wheel Systems, High Capacity AGVs and Synchronization of automated vehicles for the transport of large tooling.

The systems are designed to increase safety, throughput and accuracy and are supplied to replace traditional material handling methods such as fork lifts, manned Tuggers and overhead cranes. The systems are fully configurable to vary the level of automation depending on the requirements of the end user. The AGV control can be as simple as utilizing a control pendant to manually move the vehicle, all the way up to the highest level of automation which includes a Fori Vehicle Management System (VMS) or Traffic Control. A VMS allows the system to be fully autonomous, only requiring input for scheduling of moves, the VMS takes care of the rest.

Fori’s software is based on a Siemens Safety PLC for the vehicle control, providing an open architecture for the end user. Utilization of the Safety PLC based system eliminates the “black box” supplied by many of the AGV companies in the industry. All Fori AGVs 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. Additionally, each vehicle is designed to be user friendly and virtually maintenance free for the end user.

Automated Tuggers: Tuggers are a direct replacement for Fork Lifts. The vehicles are utilized for transporting carts, kits and various product throughout the manufacturing process.

 

Powered Drive Wheels: Powered Drive Wheels are modular drive wheel sets that are mounted to mobile tooling or operator platforms for automated mobilization. The systems utilize a standard control architecture that is expandable to support added powered drive wheels in order to increase capacities.

Fori Automation - Powered Drive Wheels for Platform & Tooling Mobilization
Fori offers a variety of Powered Drive Wheels with a wide range of capacities that can be mounted to tooling or operator platforms for automated guidance.

 

High Capacity AGV: AGVs are used for a variety of applications that are traditionally completed with an overhead crane. Fori AGV capacities are upwards of 250,000 lbs.

 

Synchronized AGVs: When required multiple vehicles can be synchronized to move large tooling, this methodology allows a single, modular vehicle design to be provided to the end user, but multiples of two or three vehicles can be used for lift and carry of various tools.

 

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.

For more information of Fori Automation’s products and capabilities, please visit our website.

 

Automotive Assembly Line + Fori Assembly System + Scooter & Motorcycle Assembly

Automotive Assembly System – Battery & Scooter Line

Fori recently integrated a flexible assembly system for a scooter assembly line. The line currently utilizes a scalable manufacturing methodology, enabling the end user to increase automation as production requirements increase.

The assembly system is made up of a single assembly loop and two offline stations. The two offline stations consist of a battery assembly area, along with a tire & wheel assembly area.

A unique characteristic about this assembly loop is the manual carts are tied into a track that resides on the floor similar to the Fori Flex Rail system that utilizes Rail Guided Carts (RGCs).

The unique equipment provided includes:

  • Flexible production tooling pallets
  • Bushing press
  • Heavy duty torque tube for front fork attachment
  • Robotic sealant dispensing cell
Automated Sealant + Fori + Assembly Systems
Automotive Assembly System – Automated Sealant Apply

Implementation of these types of scalable assembly systems allow the end user to minimize upfront expenditure and utilize a cash flow structure which supports increased automation as throughput requirements increase.

For more information on Fori’s available equipment, please visit our website.