Flexible alternatives

2014-03-14 - Known the world over for its commitment to innovativation, Audi AG paints its vehicles using cutting-edge robots from ABB.ABB provided and Spyder. IRB 5500 robots for exterior painting and IRB 5400 for interior paint jobs at Audi’s production facility
It’s no secret that Audi AG is one of the biggest automakers in the world. Around 1200 cars, from sedans and coupes to convertibles and supercars, are produced daily at its plant in Neckarsulm, Germany.

Painting the cars is part of the pro-duction process at Neckarsulm. Until re-cently, the painting process was done using machines that were 15 years old and in need of modernization. Audi chose ABB to supply flexible robots to handle all of the essential painting applications.

The basic requirement for the new robotic solution was more flexibility in order to paint Audi’s range of automobiles, including the A4 Sedan, A5/S5 Cabriolet, A6 Sedan, A7, A8 (standard and longwheelbase version), R8 Coupe and Spyder, and Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe

For exterior painting ABB installed IRB 5500 robots, and IRB 5400 robots were brought in for interior paint jobs. Both ro- bots can move in six and seven axes and thus can paint difficult-to-reach parts, ensuring an efficient and uniform paint job.Audi’s color change process also required increased flexibility.Before the new solution was installed cars were color block painted to minimize losses dur of a sequence stable production, it is better to apply the colors for the paint job and adjust them to each car model, and with ABB’s new solution this is now a reality.

Also, unlike the previous Spray Mate plants that had a loss of about one liter of paint per color, the new robots only lose a few milliliters of paint. ABB’s solution ensures that only as much paint that is needed is inserted into each cartridge, so the color change in the primer and base coat line material is much more efficient.

Audi achieved further savings by replacing manual paint jobs with robotic automation using speed rotary atomizers. This saved up to 20 percent in costs.Additionally, around 80 percent of the robots’ programming can be done before the first prototype of a new model is available. Based on ABB’s RobotStudio’s 3D software, the robots movements and painting parameters are calculated in advance. When the prototype is available, the residual volumes can be optimized to the car body in the system.

Compared with the previous method of robotic programming, in which several prototypes were required to program the system, this saves an enormous amount of time and material.

By the end of 2013, the remaining painting machines in Neckarsulm will be replaced with ABB’s flexible robotic painting solution, helping the popular car maker to streamline its processes and remain at the cutting edge of production.

Audi AG
With the brands Audi and Lamborghini, the Audi Group is one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers in the premium and super sports car seg-ment. Audi produces vehicles in eight locations, two of which are in Germany. In the US and China, deliveries rose by around 20% each.

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