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Improving Production Quality

Researchers in the U.K. may have achieved line-rate BIW inspection


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Although vehicle manufacturers like to measure as many vehicles in production as they possibly can, let’s face it: line rates are fast, with anywhere from 50 to 60 vehicles per hour running off the line, and bodies-in-white (BIWs) have plenty of features to be measured and are dimensionally large. So it is generally a case of sampling.

However, engineers at WMG at the University of Warwick in the UK have developed a robotic measuring system that they say could potentially measure every vehicle being produced.

Measurement robot


The system uses a KUKA robot that’s mounted on a five-meter track. It has an end effector capable of handling a variety of non-contact measurement sensors. In this case, the robot is fitted with Laser Radar from Nikon Metrology, which is a long stand-off laser measurement system that is capable of achieving accuracies of better than 0.01 mm over distances of several meters.

While the WMG researchers think that this system that they’re running in their metrology lab (and comparing it to results being obtained with a twin-column coordinate measuring machine setup that’s also there) could have application on the factory floor—with huge returns based on things ranging from reduced rework to improved customer satisfaction—they’re looking ahead to even more enhanced functionality.

That is, they suggest that measurement data could be fed back into the manufacturing system so that the system could self-correct without the need of human intervention.

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