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.

Aerospace Assembly–Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for Wing Assembly

Fori provided six high capacity Aerospace AGVs for the automated transport of tooling for stringer assembly, supporting the wing assembly.

Features:

  • Guidance Technology: Magnetic bar, inertial with pencil magnets, natural feature, laser contour
  • Capacity: 40,000 lbs./54,545 kg.
  • Safety: Safety scanners and bumpers, Siemens safety PLC, system interlocks
  • Controls: Siemens open architecture, vehicle management system
  • Results: Improved flexibility, decreased crane usage
  • Solutions: Vehicle synchronization, auto-leveling, vehicle management system

The six high capacity AGVs, capable of auto-leveling and synchronized transport of tooling up to 40,000 pounds have been designed to accommodate projected wing production. The AGV system is required to be synchronized during the lift of the tooling and product, as well as synchronization of the three AGVs during transport. The system includes an auto-leveling feature that dynamically levels the tooling during travel to ensure a level plane is maintained during transport between stations. 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, whereas the AGV based solution eliminates the reliance on cranes.

Boeing - CWC - Stringer AGV - 4

The AGVs were developed to support the customer’s lean automated manufacturing methodology. The goal of the project was to automate the entire material handling process for the assembly of the stringers (specifically the load and unload of the autoclaves used for curing the composite wing stringers). The loading of the autoclave is completed utilizing a natural feature guidance system. Then the AGV uses the walls of the loaded autoclave for the guidance in and out, while still maintaining +/- 5mm 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.

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Each of the AGVs is outfitted with two servo based lifters and a laser alignment system which provides measurement feedback to the onboard 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 (VMS) 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.

For more information about Fori Automation’s Aerospace AGV products, 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–Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for Chassis Marriage

Fori recently designed and built a chassis marriage AGV utilizing induction power and magnetic guidance. 

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Features:

  • Guidance Technology: Magnetic bar
  • Capacity: 6,000 lbs./2,727 kg.
  • Safety: Safety scanners, safety bumpers, Rockwell safety PLC
  • Controls: Rockwell open architecture, vehicle management system (VMS)
  • Keys to Success: Vehicle synchronization, custom designed chassis, high capacity lifts
  • Results: Improved flexibility, decreased infrastructure, elimination of batteries and chargers

Chassis marriage has traditionally been completed with a Rail Guided Vehicle (RGV) and in floor track. The system has been a longstanding robust and reliable solution; however some customers require additional flexibility to support their process.

The chassis marriage AGV looks to improve on the RGV technique by utilizing induction power. Using induction provides a limitless power source and magnetic guidance which is a proven guidance technique for AGVs providing a high level of reliability and accuracy.

One of the main design considerations for the chassis marriage AGV development was flexibility and infrastructure reduction. Utilization of an in floor induction wire and magnetic bar will decrease the cost and time associated with the installation of Chassis Marriage systems. The ease of layout changes supports the added flexibility requested by the end users of these systems.

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In floor induction wire.

A Vehicle Management System (VMS) is supplied with the vehicles to manage communication with the overhead conveyor, synchronization of vehicles and system diagnostics required by the end user. This inductive chassis marriage AGV can be designed to use the proven and reliable patented Fori electric chain lift or other suitable lift devices.

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For more information about Fori’s AGVs or Chassis Marriage systems, please visit our website.

 

Tuggers – Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for Product Delivery

Fori has further improved on its standard Tugger AGV design by doubling the overall towing capacity.

Features:

  • Guidance Technology: Inertial with pencil magnets, bi-directional, capable of 0 degree turn
  • Capacity: 35,000 lbs./15,909 kg.
  • Safety: Scanners and bumpers
  • Controls: Siemens Open Architecture
  • Keys to Success: Highly accurate and repeatable
  • Results: Increased production rate, reduced personnel injuries, decreased infrastructure

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Fori was enlisted to supply a derivative of the standard Tugger AGV product line that is capable of nearly double the capacity of the original design. The driver of this increase was the goal of being able to transport three carts carrying axle assemblies for a large automotive OEM.

Due to the capacity, more product was transferred during each move which further increased the return on investment while decreasing the total number of required vehicles. The Tugger AGVs were commissioned to replace non-value added material handling tasks within the assembly process. The most important process consideration was safety and reliable delivery of product.

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Integration of a Fori Vehicle Management System (VMS) introduced further improvements to safety and reliability. Vehicle scheduling of moves, tracking and traffic control is coordinated through the Fori VMS. The Fori Tugger is a proven and robust product that can be applied to a variety of material handling applications.

For more information about Fori’s Tuggers and other material handling systems, 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 Vehicle for Automotive Chassis Decking Line

Fori recently provided a precision battery powered automotive Chassis Marriage AGV for an electric car manufacturer.

Features:

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

Fori has traditionally supplied Rail Guided Vehicles (RGVs) for automotive Chassis Marriage, but over the past five years Fori has leveraged its AGV experience to transfer existing automated vehicle technologies to its Chassis Marriage systems. The automated vehicle technology provides a Chassis Marriage system that decreases the required plant infrastructure. Whereas the traditional RGV based system requires an in floor track and power transfer system. The AGV system removes this requirement by utilizing an on board, battery based power supply and magnetic tape or bar guidance for vehicle tracking and positioning. Overall these improvements decrease facility work and associated cost, and allow for decreased installation times and provide long term flexibility for changing production needs.

The battery powered Chassis Marriage AGV includes dual independent Fori patented chain lifts capable of lifting and transporting 4,000 pounds in order to install the front and rear suspension and drive train modules to the vehicle Chassis. The battery based Chassis Marriage AGV was developed to support the end users lean automated manufacturing methodology, decreasing the total in plant infrastructure required for the system. Not only will the AGV enable the end user to reduce their plant hardware investment, there will be significant long term flexibility in the assembly process. The guidance system of the AGV and reduced plant infrastructure allow the AGV to easily interact with other systems and processes.

The AGV is outfitted with multiple safety measures that ensure collision avoidance. Safety scanners are included on the front and rear of the vehicle that will slow down and stop the vehicle as objects enter the scanning field. The Chassis Marriage AGV also includes indicator lights in each corner, (4) e-stops, safety pressure bumpers on the perimeter of the AGV and an on board HMI for vehicle status and diagnostics.

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Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) for Chassis Marriage utilizing Magnetic Tape Guidance

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

For more information on Fori’s Chassis Marriage AGVs, 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.