ABB delivers innovative robotic vehicle cleaning solution

2013-10-30 - New FeatherDuster robotic car cleaning system introduces an unheard of level of flexibility, precision and reliability to the painstaking task of preparing car bodies for painting on an assembly line.

Traditionally, purpose built “tack-off” machines have handled the painstaking task of removing dust and dirt particles from a vehicle before it is painted on an automotive assembly line. ABB’s FeatherDuster system replaces these one-dimensional machines with an unheard of level of precision, control and flexibility by combining a standard ABB IRB 6640 robot with an advanced rotating feather and vacuum tool to suck particles from the surface of the vehicle.

No traditional solution can match the unique 3D control provided by the duster head attached to the end of the long-arm of an IRB 6640. FeatherDuster is modular in nature and can be implemented in 2 or 3 robot layouts to accommodate the required speed of production. Not only can the robots closely follow the contours of each vehicle to ensure speedy and efficient dust removal, they can track the vehicles in complete synchronizations as they move along the conveyor, ensuring no stoppage is necessary for a thorough cleaning.

Implementing FeatherDuster in a new or existing system is incredibly easy. Familiar and time-tested user interfaces make for simple programming—whether directly on the FlexPendant attached to the reliable IRC5 robot controller or via the PC-based RobotStudio virtual programming tool. New vehicles can be added to, and taken away from, the system as required and without the need for specialists. While traditional tack-off equipment tends to take up a large amount of space, FeatherDuster has a very small footprint and can be fit into any station layout.

“ABB Robotics understands that the future of car manufacturing is tied to more flexible and efficient solutions that increase productivity and lower capital expenditure,” says Alan Stapelberg, ABB Robotics Body in White Product Manager. “FeatherDuster provides exactly that. It can be implemented quite easily and, just like our other automotive solutions based on our robust robots and controllers, it is incredibly reliable.”

When combined with its lower up-front investment and ease of programming, FeatherDuster’s modular and scalable approach means less money will be spent both in the commissioning phase and during build-out. The system also uses much less energy thanks to lower vacuum requirements and a reduced number of feather rollers.

All ABB Robotics' products are fully supported by the ABB Robotics’ global sales and service organization in 53 countries and over 100 locations—including comprehensive documentation, maintenance information and spare parts. This kind of support ensures that when replacement parts are needed, downtime will be minimized to the greatest extent possible.

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