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ABB Robotics helps automotive industry streamline operations

02 July 2013

ABB Robotics has launched GateFramer, an easy-to-programme robotic car body framing system, enabling multiple cars to be produced on the same line.

The technology allows for up to six different car body variants to be framed on the same line by swapping gates that hold the tools for each car model. 

Controlled by ABB’s IRC robot controller, the gates can be shuffled in the background to get ready for the next body while the robots weld the body currently under production. This results in a consistent gate exchange time of only 18 seconds for a completely random sequence of model production. 

The GateFramer’s novel design has up to four integrated welding robots just behind each gate for easy access to the body side, and up to six shelf mounted robots on an overhead platform, allowing a total of up to 14 robots to be accommodated into each station. Up to 77 geometry welds can be completed inside the framer to ensure excellent geometry integrity of the vehicle.

“While other framing solutions exist, none of them are as robust or easy to programme and operate as our new GateFramer,” claims Alan Stapelberg, ABB Robotics Body in White Product Manager.

“The beauty of our system lies in its simplicity. By building on the proven nature of our welding robots coupled with complete system control by the IRC5, there is no other more flexible and reliable solution on the market.”

An innovative gate docking feature docks the gates into fixed pillars at the framing position. This ensures that the gates are positioned in a highly repeatable manner and do not depend on the accuracy of the slides used to move the gates. This provides an exceptional repeatability of +/-0.1mm.

The modularity of the GateFramer enables the system to be expanded as needed. From a base layout of a single car model, investment in the system can gradually increase over time. With adding new car models now being as easy as adding new gates, the GateFramer enables capital outlay to be scaled to meet demand.

For further information about ABB Robotics' automotive manufacturing systems, click here.

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