Why the automotive field is not as automatic as it appears

Carmakers and their sub suppliers are overlooking a massive automation likely that can enable them overcome the labour and efficiency issues facing the business.

We are utilised to considering about the automotive sector as a front runner for robots and automation. In many ways, it also is: If you glance at the international statistics from the International Federation of Robots (IFR), 21 % of all robotic installations took place in this sector in 2020 building it the 2nd-most significant consumer base for automation. But, digging a small further, these statistics are masking an market continue to very reliant on handbook labour.

As independent advisors on robots and automation, my colleagues and I frequently pay a visit to the factories of OEM’s and their sub suppliers to scout for new automation chances. For illustration, when they wrestle with obtaining sufficient human operators.

What we frequently discover is that many duties that probably really should have been automatic extended ago, are nevertheless left untouched by robots.

This does not have to be a dilemma in alone. However, in a planet of labour shortages, closely afflicted by two years of pandemic, supply chain disruptions and geopolitical turmoil, securing the continued creation at a aggressive level is critical. For this, automation plays a crucial role.

Automation is seriously concentrated in a couple of essential spots

To realize the automobile industry’s automation paradox, we have to glimpse closer at the places in which robots are currently utilized, particularly at the primary vehicle factories and with the several sub suppliers of vehicle parts.

Most robot installations in the automotive industry are located in the car or truck physique output. This involves converting metallic sheets into a entire car system that is then painted. There are frequently around 200 to 300 robots dedicated to this procedure by itself at just about every vehicle company. On the other hand, the remaining processes on the assembly line, as well as the transport, buying and getting ready of auto areas, are only sporadically automatic.

When it will come to the sub suppliers, they as well have numerous options. They are usually undertaking a lot of the machining and welding of the automobile elements (with the welding of the car overall body, which transpires at the automobile manufacturing facility, becoming an exception). In these regions, we also really frequently find possibilities to automate. There are now lots of robotic methods catering to these processes, producing automating them usually reduced-hazard and obtainable.

Just-in-time delivery is very important

The assembly of cars and trucks when they transfer by means of the assembly line depends on just-in-time shipping and delivery. It is vital for assembly line staff to have the correct suitable car aspect available at the precise suitable time.

The intralogistics of the car or truck manufacturing facility is an spot in the automotive business in which we usually see superior possible for automation. Though substantial variance will make making use of automation remedies for kitting tricky, there are other confirmed remedies for transporting car or truck components throughout the manufacturing unit ground, Autonomous Cellular Robots (AMRs) being a very good illustration of this. While not all transportation kinds might be appropriate to automate, it is frequently possible to automate 50-80% of the types that are. Automating the intralogistics of a auto manufacturing facility can lessen the manpower required by up to 80%.

Is automation often the remedy?

Some motor vehicle companies make the slip-up of diving into the deep stop when it arrives to automation. The most current craze is incorporating collaborative robots into assembly strains in reply to an increase in demand for customization, which has put greater price on the means to retool production processes immediately.

The implementation of novel technologies in a strict just-in-time assembly line is extremely risky and calls for meticulous arranging and technological skills. This is very likely a single of the primary explanations that the automotive sector is lagging guiding numerous other industries when it comes to automating their assembly processes. If a robotic solution is not operating robustly and reliably, it can have a vital impression on the complete creation line, triggering high priced delays.

To ensure the results of this kind of implementations, it is very important to do important scheduling and specific specifications up front, as this will mitigate the possibility of changes and surprises for the duration of the integration or operate-in of the solution. In the same way, it is extremely advisable to automate the manual processes with the cheapest hazard very first, rather of hoping to force in a unique technological know-how for the sake of the technologies.

To sum up: Indeed, the automotive industry is by now utilizing a large range of robots. However, the industry has a big potential for more automation – especially inside of assembly, pre-assembly, and intralogistics. To navigate properly via the present-day headwinds, car or truck OEM’s and their tier 1 and 2 suppliers have to start out discovering these new opportunities.

Achieve & Co are vendor-impartial advisors serving to companies succeed with robotics and automation. Acquire & Co is operating with automotive makers and other corporations globally on outlining their automation tactic, arranging investments, sourcing robotic answers, overseeing implementation and examining their overall performance.

About the writer


Mikkel Viager is a Senior Robotic & Automation Advisor at Acquire & Co. He has helped many production corporations globally obtain their company plans as a result of automation. He also holds a master’s diploma in Automation and Robotic Engineering from the Technological College of Denmark.

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