UR10e Cobot Powers New Quality Assurance Solution for Car Seats
High quality translates as a decisive advantage over competitors in a global market with many players. At the same time, the lack of skilled employees is a major roadblock for many companies. In order to hold their own, many organizations are forced to manufacture under increasing pressure. In this environment, companies offering the best quality at the lowest price can count on success.
In view of this reality, quality assurances are becoming a major challenge. Performed manually, these routines hold many sources of errors.
Automotive industry: Product defects can incur ruinous effects
The automobile industry is especially impacted. The sector is driven to bring innovations to the market in increasingly short cycles. Today, companies that were formerly known for more compact vehicles with standard equipment levels are now offering vehicles with sophisticated comfort functions, such as advanced air conditioning and massage seats. Only a few years ago, the latter was the privilege of high-end luxury vehicles.
When, in spite of all measures taken, product defects arise in terms of functionality or safety, this can rapidly incur ruinous consequences. If and when defects are only detected after the products have been delivered, expensive recalls frequently result in a loss of trust in the brand and in a worst-case scenario, may put users at risk, as in the case of defective brakes or airbags.
Watch how the UR10 cobot runs through the different testing routines, making sure each car seat is manufactured correctly.
The solution: Automation achieves consistently high quality
GÖPEL electronic based in Jena, Germany, had already developed a testing and inspection system back in 1991, supporting companies in their quality assurance. The customer portfolio includes many automobile manufacturers and suppliers mainly focused on the development and manufacture of automobile seats. Manager for GÖPEL electronic’s automotive test solutions team, Thomas Schöppe, explains what lead the company add an automated component to their testing system:
“Day in, day out, we are faced with our customers‘ challenges and realized that automating end-of-line testing could be a welcome solution,” he explains. ”We wanted to develop an application that helps companies in marketing products of consistently high quality.”
The application: Flexible integration into production sequences
GÖPEL had spent a couple of years exploring robotics options and finally opted for the UR10e, UR’s longest-reach cobot arm from its new e-Series line. Philipp Kießlich-Köcher, application engineer in the company’s automotive test solutions area, explains that GÖPEL chose UR for several reasons:
“The various features of the e-Series convinced us, such as the force sensor system that monitors the robot’s movements. We also found that Universal Robots was very open to partnering with us in system development.”
The cobot replaces the company’s EOL seating test system OsCAR. Positioned at the end of the production line, the system tests car seats of any manufacturer and ascertains their correct functioning.
Before, the testing of the GÖPEL electronic universal unit was handled manually. The system generates various types of stimuli impacting the car seat in order to simulate vehicle-driver interaction. An employee actuated all the seat’s buttons and switches in order to measure voltage, current, and other values linked to the BUS system integrated into the unit.
Due to the lateral course of motion frequently involved, it was not easy for robots to take over the functions performed by skilled workers.
The introduction of the UR cobot changed all this. The 6-axis articulated cobot arm is capable of reaching all the switches and buttons and executes all motions with the same measure of force. As opposed to a manual input, the cobot knows no fatigue and can work through entire shifts without interruptions. As a result, employees are relieved of strenuous manual input tasks, while the following tasks are now performed by the UR10e with consistent precision:
- actuation of the car seat’s buttons and switches applying consistent force.
- adjustment of electrical and manual seats at all endpoints.
- the positioning of tools for seat occupancy detection.
- insertion and release of the seat belt tongue.
The UR10e is equipped with a UR+ certified gripper from Robotiq that actuates buttons and switches on the car seats.
GÖPEL electronic developed a system meeting the specific requirements of its customers. A cobot by Universal Robots is at the core of the application.
The cobot is delivered with a range of different tools so that it can handle the components to be tested safely and securely, in line with the relevant processes. GÖPEL electronic not only developed the system but will also integrate it at customers on location – either into existing systems or as a complete solution.
“Thanks to the automated quality assurances, users can rely on their products leaving the manufacturing area in top condition,“ explains Schöppe. “What is more, the employees performing these tasks to date can be assigned to other activities. A clear-cut competitive advantage for our customers.“