GROB delivers automotive solution

With a forward-looking concept consisting of a GROB G350 Access, a flexible GROB GRC-R20 robot cell with integrated GRESSEL R-C2 clamping system and control software from PROCAM, thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions can undertake flexible automated production. 

Located near the Luxembourg border, thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions has been supplying the auto industry with its standardised and flexible solutions as an integrated body builder for decades. The company, first worked with GROB in 2008. 

At the end of 2008, thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions invested in its first automation system with an integrated 5-axis machining centre. The robotic system was equipped with combined pallet and workpiece handling, as well as the possibility to integrate a second machine. Ten years later, this was expanded with a second 5-axis machine. “Here GROB was the only company willing to help us. Especially since there were already problems with the automation at that time,” remembers Production Manager of thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions, Thomas Hahn. 

The solution was found with a GROB G550. After extensive tests, with additional integration of a new control system from PROCAM, it was integrated into the existing plant. The challenge for GROB’s tender designers was even more intensive and extensive for the second, extremely demanding task from thyssenkrupp. For its small parts series production, the company planned another 5-axis machine and automation for a wide variety of workpieces that can be flexibly produced in two setups. Despite the difficult conditions caused by Covid, GROB managed to successfully cooperate and closely coordinate with regard to an optimal solution. As with the first automation system, PROCAM’s control software technology was used for this system as well. For this order, too, the primary objective was to find an overall concept based on the customer’s requirements. “In this application, we not only had to meet the requirement of a flexible partial spectrum, but also as a general contractor we had to find a clever system of how to coordinate our G350 Access, the GRESSEL R-C2 clamping system and the control software from PROCAM with the customer’s requirements,” GROB  Technical Proposal Ralph Birkle explains. 

The GRESSEL robot gripper was used for six-sided machining of the part, as it can be used simultaneously as a gripper and a clamping system. This means that there is no need for pallets or many grippers. In sum, this system is not only highly flexible, but can also handle many different workpieces with just a few grippers. 

“At this point we favored the use of a pallet changer, so that loading and unloading of the GRESSEL clamping equipment is possible, and machine waiting times can be reduced to a minimum,” explains GROB area sales manager Jürgen Rieger. Another advantage is that directly after the first operation, the robot takes the clamp out of the pallet and moves to a reclamping station where another gripper is already located. This unhooks the gripper at the top, moves down and transfers the part, rotated by 180 degrees to the changeover gripper.“  

Developing an overall concept for such an automation system is one thing. Getting it up and running can only be done as a team, with an intensive exchange at eye level among each other and with a lot of know-how and experience. This successfully producing automation system is the result of intensive cooperation between GROB, GRESSEL, PROCAM and thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions. 

Thomas Hahn, the Production Manager at thyssenkrupp says: “It was fascinating that the GROB calculations for the specified workpieces and their cycle times were correct so quickly. A clever solution, as we were able to become much more efficient than expected thanks to the pallet changer and the robot gripper as a vice.” 

Adding to this, Ruben Erbel, Application Engineer at thyssenkrupp adds: “I have been working on this machine since last year, from the setup to first acceptance. I am very satisfied with the G350 Access. We started with five to eleven parts in a small series. Now we are already at 20 to 25 components, which proves that everything works well.“

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