New ‘collaborative robot’ helps employees at VW engine plant build cylinder heads

  • 03-Sep-2013 09:42 EDT

Prior to implementation of the "collaborative robot," employees had to insert the glow plugs in a stooping posture into scarcely visible cylinder head holes.

For the first time at Volkswagen, a “collaborative robot” is now being used at one of the OEM’s plants, according to Universal Robots, supplier of the device. The Danish robot maker says its UR5 unit inserts glow plugs in various diesel engines at VW’s engine plant in Salzgitter, Germany. It is called a “collaborative robot” because it meets ISO standards that allow for robots to work in close proximity to people without protective guards. Integrating the robot into the engine line was a two-year project. Prior to implementation, employees had to insert the glow plugs in a stooping posture into scarcely visible cylinder head holes. Now, the six-axis UR5 robot picks up and inserts the delicate glow plugs. An employee is then responsible for fixing the glow plugs and for insulating the cylinder head, which is required for the next step in production. With the robot acting as an assistant, these tasks can be carried out by the employee in an upright, healthy posture, Universal Robots says. In doing so, he or she is able to keep a constant watch over the process and intervene quickly if necessary. About 6000 employees manufacture approximately 7000 gasoline and diesel units in more than 370 variants daily at the Salzgitter facility.

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