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ABB robots keep Magna in trim

ABB robots keep Magna in trim
15/03/2011

With the general uncertainty about the future of the UK’s manufacturing sector, coupled with a fixation on achieving short term returns, many UK manufacturers are often unwilling to consider investing in capital equipment, but even in the hard hit Tier 1 auto sub-supply sector there are reasons why investment in robot automation equipment will prove beneficial even in these uncertain times.

Magna Exteriors and Interiors, Hartlip Division, based in Kent is a manufacturer of interior trim components, primarily cockpit modules and instrument panels and supplies many OEM manufacturers within the UK. Being part of Magna, one of the most diverse automotive suppliers in the world, they continually look to develop their own processes and stay one step ahead of competition. Investment in robot based automation has expanded their capacity and increased their manufacturing efficiency in many of the processes they employ. Working with an ABB Channel Partner Working together with ABB’s Channel Partner Geku Limited, also based in Kent, and renowned for their extensive experience as a system integrator in the field of robotic technology, Magna have fully automated the insert loading, moulding removal and quality assurance processes associated with producing large mouldings on a ‘just in time’ basis to clients such as Jaguar, Land Rover & Honda.

Robots performing multiple tasks Magna Exteriors and Interiors in Hartlip specialize in cockpit modules for various car manufacturers where they have made substantial investments with the introduction of ABB’s IRB 6600 six axis robots performing multiple tasks such as machine tending/handling, inserting and inspection of the product directly from the two thousand seven hundred tonne state-of-the-art injection moulding machines which produce a finished mould approximately every minute. Magna have been able to increase their productivity significantly when running at full capacity. This is partly due to the fact that the robots can handle the large product whilst hot, straight from the machine and perform the twenty point inspection test in cycle before the next moulding is produced - manually this would not be possible. Once the robot has completed the inspection check the product is then transported by conveyor to manual workers to trim any sprues. The robots have quick tool changing capabilities to accommodate different grippers for each of the cockpits Magna produce, which range from plain to fully grained and unique ‘soft texture definition’ finishes, some of which incorporate an innovative and specialised three layer composite process for one major player in the UK automotive OEM market.

Consistency of processes Nigel Richardson of Geku comments “Our close proximity to Magna was an obvious logistics advantage but I think that the technical solution we offered played a more important part in securing the order. This is a safety critical part and we had to guarantee consistency of process to ensure that in the air bag area, only one mesh was ever inserted into the tool. We did this by first designing and building a reliable mesh de-stacking system which had an independent pick up from the robot and as extra security, the mesh was accurately gauged after separation from the stack to check that only one had been collected. Then, as a post mould operation, a vision inspection system was used to ensure that the mesh was moulded in the correct place, with the right features and all these things combined ensured a robust and secure process. Once the first system was proven, Magna quickly ordered a second almost identical system, so this proved the level of confidence they had in the process we had developed.”

Robots performing specialised tasks Roger Larcombe, Engineering Manager at Magna explains, “We are always aiming for the ‘best in class’ manufacturing techniques due to the specialised processes we Engineer and perform within our factory.

For more information on  ABB robots keep Magna in trim  talk to  ABB Robotics

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