The best of our Ability02 July 2018 | Sponsored Article by ABB
A solution portfolio for automating and digitising paint lines, ABB Ability solutions for paint provide car manufacturers with a leaner operation with greater precision and earlier fault detection
Today’s automotive production is characterised by short product life cycles as well as a multitude of models and variants, which are manufactured on common production lines with a high degree of customisation.
Within a paint cell with state-of-the-art conveyor and process technology, special paint robots take on various painting tasks, such as the homogenisation of the surface and the subsequent application of topcoats and clear lacquers. An optimal interplay of all components must be achieved in order to obtain the best possible paint result. The range of different body variants and colours also entails new requirements for painting systems: intelligent programs can, for example, set the individual paint parameters for the atomiser’s itinerary, which is determined by the colour, the vehicle model and the factory.
By monitoring and analysing the data from production processes and equipment, vehicle manufacturers can now design their painting systems even more efficiently and thus increase productivity. ABB supports its customers through its technology and its ABB Ability solutions for paint digital portfolio, which allows them to optimise their painting processes, reduce material and energy consumption, and improve the end results of the painting.
The range of solutions is part of the entire cross-industry digital expertise falling under the umbrella of ABB Ability. This includes an open, interoperable cloud platform that connects devices, systems, solutions and services in order to increase performance, productivity, efficiency and security throughout the operational life cycle.
ABB Ability technology products and services are used in a wide range of industries, helping to create significant added value through digitalisation and closed-loop solutions.
Process and equipment data, obtained directly in the factory, form the basis of the ABB Ability solutions for paint offer. ABB has committed to three core principles for handling data. Firstly, ABB will not lay claim to any data – this will remain the property of the customer. Customers will also know what is happening with their data.
Communication on which data is measured, collected and used to improve services and products is done transparently – the customer’s consent is a prerequisite. Finally, no conclusions will be able to be drawn on production-specific processes; only general data such as temperatures and torque curves is recorded.
ABB combines its expert knowledge with the intelligence of ABB Ability Systems, such as RobotStudio, for the rapid commissioning of painting systems. The RobotStudio software simulates an exact copy of the paintshop in virtual space, including the automated processes.
With virtual commissioning, extensive tests can be carried out prior to the actual installation of the line and all parameters for painting various bodies can be determined and tested. As a result, vehicle manufacturers can accelerate implementation by up to 25%, thereby significantly reducing the time between the investment decision for a new paint line and the actual start of production.
In addition, with RobotStudio and the digital 1-to-1 copy of the paint line, adjustments can also be programmed and tested during operation; for example if body shapes need to be changed, or completely new vehicle models are to be painted on the system. The virtual programming environment allows for a fast and flexible adaptation of the system without first having to stop production.
Insights through data
With ABB Ability solutions for paint, insightful information and data from the system, the robots and the applications are transformed into valuable information on equipment and processes. Sensors integrated into the atomiser can assess the quality of the paint application, the correct layer thickness, the desired level of glossiness and other parameters relating to surfaces and quality. Users can determine faults directly during an individual painting process, for example during the colour application, and react accordingly. With a traditional visual inspection at the end of the paint line, the faulty colour application would only be recognisable after a certain amount of time, and other vehicles would have been painted with the same defect.
With ABB Ability solutions for paint, companies will achieve a first-run rate of almost 100% with continuous availability thanks to early fault detection. As this reduces rework to a minimum, the material consumption will also be considerably lower.
Furthermore, process optimisations reduce the energy costs of the paintshop, which accounts for more than 50% of the total energy consumption in vehicle production.
When maintaining paint robots and applications, users can also rely on ABB Ability Connected Services, the digital service portfolio that enables higher robot availability and better performance of installed systems. By means of RFID tags on relevant precision mechanical components such as the turbine, bell or steering ring, for example, component-related information such as life span or particular incidents is recorded. This also helps to ensure that the robot is re-equipped with the associated components even after regular cleaning or maintenance.
This renders the maintenance strategy and service operations more efficient and enables activities to be prioritised. Users will achieve up to 25% fewer faults in their deployed robots and will be able to reduce reaction and remedial time by up to 60%.
Optimising the system
With the extensive ABB Ability technology platform, automotive manufacturers will receive an extensive range of solutions to optimise their painting systems. This includes broad-ranging expertise on all painting processes and tools that enable you to improve the painting result through intelligent monitoring and analysis services.
With its services for virtual commissioning and maintenance, ABB rounds off its comprehensive portfolio of solutions that enable automotive companies to accelerate the construction of their paint systems and avoid unplanned production downtime.