Universal Robots’ UR10 Drives Cost Savings, Improves Quality and Workers' Ergonomics
With significant results in a short period of time, Europe’s Second-Largest Car Manufacturer PSA Group is modernizing its Sochaux manufacturing site with its patented production system that integrates UR robots.
Universal Robots has been selected by the PSA Group’s Sochaux plant - Europe’s second-largest car manufacturer with brands like Citroën, DS, Peugeot, Vauxhall and Opel - to increase its factory performance and reduce production costs as part of its “Plant of the Future” initiative. Results of the new robotic assembly system include improved worker ergonomics and significant cost savings. The automated UR robot system also aids product-ability through a 10 percent improvement in geometric dimensioning and tolerance (GD&T) and has an excellent operational yield, with no failures reported in the first year with over 200,000 cars produced.
“We chose the UR10 robot for its reach, ease of programming and safety, but we’ve been extremely impressed with how quickly this initiative paid for itself,” said Cedric Grandjean, Architect Element Specialist, Finish Assembly Line at Groupe PSA. “Typically, when we implement new robots, we expect an initial loss in production that is made up over time, but that didn’t happen in this case.”
Group PSA first updated its site in Sochaux, France, which manufactures 400,000 vehicles per year, with a new assembly line that incorporates UR10 robots in a unique collaborative screw-driving operation. The robots, which boast a reach of 1300 mm/51.2 inches, are mounted on a moving platform that goes under the vehicle in production. Operators pull the vehicle into place and the robot manages the ergonomically challenging screw-driving operation under the vehicle while the workers continue with other assembly tasks. The collaborative robots include built-in safety mechanisms that allow operators to work alongside the automated system without risk of injury. While the robotic system requires flawless execution for the complex task, it took only a month for Group PSA engineers to program due to the robots’ ease of use. Group PSA has since filed national and international patents for the entire unique application, including the integration of the UR10 robots and is thinking about deploying the system throughout other European plants.
“The earliest use of robots was in the auto industry, but the vast majority of these automation applications are in the heavy body and paint shop part of production, while assembly predominantly still uses manual labor,” said Jacob Pascual-Pape, General Manager of Southern Europe operations at Universal Robots. “That makes this application highly significant. UR cobots are now taking over tasks such as intricate screw-driving on the automotive assembly line, relieving workers from ergonomically unfavorable work in a production environment that isn’t conducive to traditional industrial robots.”
Operators on PSA's "body-in-white" assembly line pull down the patented UR robot screw driving application as each car arrives
The UR10 works in tandem with employees as it inserts three screws on each side of the car body where after two light bulbs indicate whether the work is done correctly. After that it swivels back into position, waiting for the arrival of the next car.
According to Maryline Bianchi, assemly line operator at PSA Group, the crew got so used to working with the UR10 cobot they now call it “Junior".