Automotive Assembly–Workpiece Carriers for Front End Assembly

Fori Germany supplied a custom designed work piece carrier for an automotive manufacturer for their front end assembly project.

Features:

  • Keys to Success: Custom designed work piece carrier, trunnion for part access
  • Results: Reduced infrastructure, increased flexibility
  • Solutions: Module assembly system, work piece carrier with integrated trunnion.

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Fori Germany supplied 21 work piece carriers for a front end assembly line. The work piece carriers were integrated with an existing automated guided vehicle (AGV) system, and are mounted directly to the AGVs.

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The purpose of the work piece carriers is to provide a repeatable solution for locating the parts to the pallet for assembly. The work piece carrier also provides a process to the operator for adjusting the part location and orientation. Adjustment is completed through a powered trunnion.

The carrier trunnion has an integrated motor in order to tilt (the system has four automatic tilt angles) the fixture both automatically and manually. The carrier utilizes the power available on the AGV and communicates with the it to provide confirmation of the correct position. Upon completion of the front end module, the carrier returns to the home position and the module is unloaded via a lift assist.

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The system supplied provided a simple technique for locating the front end module for the operator. The design considerations were based on a high level of reliability and minimal maintenance.

To learn more about Fori Automation’s AGVs and assembly capabilities, please visit our website.

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.

 

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.

Fori Germany Open House Exhibition

Fori Automation’s German Headquarters recently hosted an in-house exhibition to feature some of their latest and greatest products.

Products and projects presented included Automated Guided Carts (AGCs) for Automotive applications such as body shops and front end pre-assembly, as well as rear axle adjustment stations for axle alignment.

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Fori AGCs for Automotive Module Assembly Systems

Pictured above is an example of an AGC utilized for module assembly within the automotive industry. The vehicle will transport the work piece carriers in the front end pre-assembly line. The assembly system was comprised of over (30) vehicles.

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Low Profile AGC for Automotive Body Shop Applications

Fori Germany also developed a low profile AGC that is capable of lifting over 500 kg. and providing a total lift stroke of 350 mm for transport of car frames through a body shop. The system utilized the latest lithium ion battery technology and an optical guidance system which increased flexibility for the end user.

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Fori Germany Headquarters in Merzig, Germany

The open house exhibition was a great success for Fori Germany. Over the last year Fori Germany has supplied a number of innovative products. For more information on Fori Automation’s global locations and our products, please visit our website.

Module Aligner + Module Assembly System + Fori

Automotive Alignment Systems for Front Suspension Modules

Fori recently supplied two automated alignment cells that were required to adjust toe, camber and caster simultaneously, while ensuring the balanced marker for the drive train for 4WD models is properly positioned for ease of vehicle assembly at OEM.

The required changes for the 2016 model year were accompanied by many challenges:

  • Jobs per hour (JPH) increases
  • Minimal downtime for system installation
  • Product complexity
  • Change in model geometry
  • Rework of three current alignment machines

Fori was able to provide a solution that added two additional alignment cells each with a re-sequencing stand & integrated robot. In order to keep the flexibility of maintaining these machines, keeping sequence of the modules being built and quality, additional logic and hardware had to be developed.

Module Aligner + Fori + Module Aligment System
Suspension Module Aligner for Toe, Caster and Camber Adjustment

Modules are picked on a first come, first serve basis. After alignment the robot places the completed module in its sequence stand. From there another robot on a track extending parallel to the conveyor line will pick and place the module to the pallet it was picked from.

The Fori supplied module alignment system improved throughput for the system. The pre alignment of modules reduces alignment at final assembly and ensures proper assembly.

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

 

Module Aligner + Module Alignment + Fori Module Assembly System

Automated Alignment System for Front Suspension Modules

Fori recently provided a drive-thru Automated Dynamic Alignment cell that adjusts camber and toe. The unique aligner handles two vehicle models with different geometry.

A summary of the challenges faced include:

  • Space constraints
  • Additional tooling requirements
  • Limited tryout parts & debug time

Providing customized module alignment equipment such as this begins with a concept engineering phase. A detailed engineering study is conducted to determine if the existing vehicle model could be aligned in the same aligner as the two new vehicle models. Once feasibility was determined, it was determined that the three models could not be run together. The result was a design, process and simulation that accommodated the two new models.

Outside of the space constraints on the project, which are always a challenge. Our engineering team was tasked with supporting two different modules within the same machine, which resulted in a substantial amount of investigation and engineering.

Delivery times are becoming more and more compressed, which reduces available debug time. The key to success on the project was analyzing every failure mode with precision in order to correct & provide results that would normally take substantially more debug time.

Module Aligner + Module Assembly System + Fori
Fori – Automated Module Alignment Equipment

Each module is aligned as it enters the station. The 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.

The Fori module aligner is outfitted with unique per the vehicle frame locators, which aid in securing the part and ensuring proper adjustment of the toe & camber.

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