Screwdriving cobots relieve staff from repetitive and tiring task


In short

By using a UR10 cobot from Universal Robots to screw aircon compressors onto engine blocks, Opel relieves its assembly staff of an ergonomically unfavorable task. With the pilot application at the Eisenach plant, the car manufacturer is entering automation with cobots and gaining experience for future applications.

The business transformation

The Eisenach plant plays a key role in lean manufacturing. Opened in September 1992, the site with its approximately 1,400 employees has set trends for automotive manufacturing in Germany. With the aim of reinforcing its pioneering role, Opel established a plant-wide automation team in Eisenach in 2018. From body construction to assembly, the team identifies the potential for the use of new technologies and introduces them at the site. When the new project team started, they quickly found that collaborative robots could provide them with enormous innovative strength in developing modern assembly concepts. The cobots’ ability to work in proximity with people creates completely new scenarios for automation.


Industry Automotive and Subcontractors
Country Europe
Number of Employees 1000+
Cobots used UR10

The Eisenach plant has always stood for team spirit and premium manufacturing quality. With the cobots from Universal Robots, we can implement new deployment scenarios to support our employees.

STEVE GEINITZ, Manufacturing engineer at Opel Eisenach
Familiar and reliable

Familiar and reliable

Opel was already familiar with the collaborative robots (cobots) of Universal Robots (UR) through their use at the parent company Group PSA. The project team at Opel decided to implement a first cobot application at the engine assembly line. The cobot drives screws into aircon compressors on engine blocks here. Together with the employees, the UR10 works at a stop-and-go interval and tightens three screws to exactly 22 Newton meters every two minutes. Doing so, the cobot processes 30 engines of up to 7 different types per hour in a two-shift operation. The control of the production line lets the cobot know about the type of engine currently presented to it – so the cobot can always run the right program.

Cobot Günni lends a hand

Cobot Günni lends a hand

“The cobot from Universal Robots has enabled us to free our employees from an ergonomically taxing task on the engine line,” explains Steve Geinitz, manufacturing engineer at Opel Eisenach “In the past, they had to deal with a great counterforce when tightening the screws. The movement of their hands and shoulders was very tiring.” To prevent possible concerns of the workforce about working with the UR10, the manufacturing engineer gave the cobot the name “Günni”.

Simplified learning with intuitive program design

Opel handled the application deployment in-house, from building an end effector to the implementation on the line. The team led by Geinitz developed a screwdriver equipped with a special spring nut. The signals for the process on the line were simulated with the aid of a keypad in a development shop upfront. “The cobots from UR clearly convinced us with their simple programming,” says Geinitz “With many other models from the field of classic industrial robotics, you need to know your way around code in high-level language. By comparison, the Universal Robots user interface has a very intuitive graphic design.” As part of the project, a few employees did a basic training in operating and programming cobots at Willich Elektrotechnik – a certified training partner of Universal Robots.

Opel intends to follow up on the successes of the pilot application in the future. A second UR10 is already available in the development shop. The car maker is testing new applications on it and is educating the workforce in handling the future technology that is increasingly becoming reality in the factory buildings in Germany.

Programming with the UR10 at Opel Eisenach
Programming with the UR10 at Opel Eisenach

Automation challenges solved:

  • Automating repetitive tasks
  • Reduce ergonomically taxing jobs for staff
  • Reinforced innovation

Key value drivers:

  • Easy programming
  • Multiple ports, for reliable signal exchange with end effector and assembly line
  • Ability to handle consistent screw driving tasks in 2-shift operation
  • Flexible and precise, tightens screws to exactly 22 Newton meters on seven different engine types
  • Space-saving, requires only one square meter of space on the assembly line
  • Safe and collaborative, operates directly next to the human in action after successfully completed risk assessment

Tasks solved by collaborative robots:

  • Assembly
  • Screw driving

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