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The future is electric

Intelligent automation for electromobility.

Bundling expertise for electromobility.

As one of the world’s leading experts for automation in the automotive industry, KUKA has bundled experience and expertise in engineering, project management, process knowledge, commissioning and service for the automated production of electric vehicles including their powertrain. KUKA is the partner for automation that meets the individual requirements of its customers in an optimal cost/benefit ratio.

Everything from a single source: Automation for the new challenges in the production of electric vehicles.

Electrified powertrain

KUKA will accompany you on your journey to become a pioneer in the transformation to innovative drive technologies in vehicle production, irrespective of your choice of electrified powertrain: HEV, PHEV, BEV, FCEV or REEV. For the production of components for hybrid and purely electric vehicle drives, KUKA offers custom-tailored production concepts with automation solutions and test systems for quality assurance – suitable for every desired level of automation of the production system.

Assembly and test systems

Since 2010 KUKA has been developing automated assembly systems for the production of components in the electrified powertrain and integrating them successfully at customers’ plants. KUKA delivers assembly lines for electric motors, rotors, stators, hybrid transmissions, axles and integrated axle systems – with the corresponding test systems in each case. The trend in electromobility is towards more integrated and compact e-modules. KUKA supports this rapid development with innovative automation.

Modular system concepts for energy storage systems

Electromobility requires powerful high-voltage batteries (HVB). KUKA offers modular, flexible and scalable automation, enabling efficient battery production. KUKA’s expertise is in the planning, design and commissioning of turnkey production lines for battery modules and battery packs. The portfolio of products and services covers the wide range of production processes from precise laser welding to the associated measuring and inspection systems. For KUKA, efficient automation in battery production is also synonymous with utmost precision, maximum safety requirements in the high-voltage area and ergonomic assembly stations.

Battery inspection and test systems

High-performance batteries for electromobility must meet stringent safety requirements and the highest quality standards. Each individual battery component is repeatedly subjected to the closest inspection during production, culminating in the end-of-line test of the battery. In addition to leak testing, the battery systems are subjected to extensive electrical tests relating to communication with the electric vehicle and signal processing. Additionally, the electrical properties of the battery are tested, requiring the corresponding high-capacity charging and discharging equipment. Furthermore, KUKA also considers reworking strategies to be implemented in the event of faults.

Lightweight body design

Reduction of vehicle weight is one of the decisive factors for the automotive manufacturing of the future. KUKA’s production know-how also flows into the lightweight design of vehicle bodies with electric powertrains. From multi-material-mix design to a purely aluminum architecture, KUKA develops innovative automation solutions and state-of-the-art production lines for the series production of any body architecture and masters all the associated and technologically demanding joining processes. One well-known manufacturer is producing its first latest-generation, battery-powered electric vehicle on a KUKA body in white production line and is already enjoying market success with it.

Final assembly

One challenging assembly task in automotive production is the “marriage” of the powertrain to the vehicle body. This also applies to electric vehicles in which the electric motors are already integrated into the axle modules. A particular challenge is the bolting of the enormously heavy batteries into the underbody. The positioning of these components can be performed using conventional lift tables on slides, robots or automated guided vehicle systems (AGVS). Depending on customer requirements, KUKA offers the appropriate solutions with partially or fully automatic assembly fixtures.

SmartProduction: The production of tomorrow

Automotive manufacturers are faced with the challenge of producing ever greater numbers of electric vehicle models alongside their portfolio of conventional vehicle models with internal combustion engines. Increasing type variety, more frequent changes of models and widely varying batch sizes require maximum flexibility and versatility. KUKA SmartProduction unites precisely these factors and enables customers to produce different assemblies for internal combustion and electric models cost-effectively in a common set-up of cells. These production cells of the SmartProduction system are supplied with components and tools independently of their location. This takes customized production to a new dimension.

Energized by intelligent automation.

KUKA will accompany you along every single step in the electromobility process chain. From battery module & pack assembly lines to rotary friction welding equipment for the manufacture of battery contacts or battery housings with robot-guided friction stir welding, and from robotic systems for assembly and quality inspections with leak tests to the installation of battery packs in electric vehicles. As a reliable partner for all leading OEMs, KUKA bundles synergies from its expertise in mechanical engineering and new digital solutions for efficient and intelligent automation in the field of electromobility.

Discover KUKA’s range of services in the field of intelligent automation for electromobility:

  • Axle module assembly

    The chassis of electric vehicles with independent front and rear axles is increasingly being developed as a fully integrated electric axle drive system. This is delivered directly to the production line and installed as a complete module. This reduces weight, installation space and production costs.

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  • Battery module line

    Prismatic, pouch or cylindrical: irrespective of the battery cell form, KUKA develops process-reliable and dependable battery module assembly lines for high-voltage energy storage systems for subsequent installation in battery packs. From pre-assembly to insulation and bracing, and from the assembly of electrical contacts, boards, sensors and end plate to the inspection station.

  • Battery pack line

    The assembly process for battery packs begins with the provision and preparation of the housing components such as the tray and frame. The cooling systems are then assembled and thermal compound or gap filler applied. The individual battery modules are inserted into the pack housing and fastened. This is followed by the electrical and thermal integration, cover installation and quality and safety testing of the battery pack.

  • Electric motor assembly

    The manufacture of electric motors is an established technology. Nonetheless it produces some major challenges for manufacturers. For the use in vehicles, a high level of automation of the production systems is required. Moreover, the associated production processes are subjected to the most stringent quality requirements. KUKA develops and implements turnkey, modular assembly lines for electric motors: from design and planning to final implementation and integration in your production environment – scalable from small to large-series production. In order to ascertain the optimal quality of your assembled motors and powertrains, KUKA also designs and implements all required inspection and measuring systems.

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  • Sealing of electronic modules by means of extrusion

    Automation solution for the direct application of extruded, endless sealing profiles onto components

    For the sealing of electronic modules, for example, KUKA develops flexible automation solutions that apply endless extruded plastic sealing profiles directly onto the desired components. Depending on the customer’s specific sealing task, KUKA provides the most appropriate robot-guided extrusion process to ensure greater flexibility, shorter cycle times and thus more cost-effective production.

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  • Body in white design for electric vehicles

    Modern electric vehicles have special requirements on the vehicle design which also has a strong influence on body in white architecture: The large battery is bolted into the underbody and the battery housing becomes a structural component. The use of high-voltage technology increases the safety requirements, particularly for crash tests. As an expert in body in white production, KUKA provides the know-how required for innovative automation solutions for mass production and meets your specific vehicle body requirements, no matter in which way the design of the body in white is done.

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  • Lightweight body design

    The mileage that can be achieved is currently the decisive factor for people buying electric vehicles. In order to reduce consumption, lightweight design remains a major issue in electromobility. Established approaches in lightweight vehicle body design are being adopted. KUKA has many years of experience in all methods of body design, if it is aluminum and the more demanding multi-material-mix and masters the automated series production of vehicle bodies in all conceivable variants.

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  • Assembly in the powertrain

    KUKA is the specialist for the planning, design, manufacture and commissioning of automation systems, individual assembly lines and complex assembly systems. Electromobility components such as electric motors, front and rear axles and gear units for hybrid vehicles are assembled for the electric powertrain. KUKA test technology and KUKA high-tech test systems ensures that your assembled unit performs properly.

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  • Battery component production with special welding processes

    Friction stir welding cell for battery housing

    The automated production of battery components is another area in which KUKA ensures quality and safety down to the smallest detail. In order to implement the complex seams of battery and electronics housings, KUKA uses the robot-guided friction stir welding technology. This is particularly suitable for joining non-ferrous metals with a low melting temperature. In the battery housings for electric vehicles, for example, the floor plate and the frame are circumferentially welded to form a leak-proof housing. In addition to this, for joining battery contacts and connecting cables and cable lugs, KUKA uses the established friction welding process. This pressure welding process produces particularly strong joints and can be used to join identical or different materials.

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  • Rotor and stator assembly

    The production of rotors and stators for electric motors requires a high degree of technological competence and also innovative automation solutions in order to be profitable. For this, it is necessary to master the core processes. These include the winding and impregnation of the stator coils as well as fitting the rotor with magnets and balancing it. Additionally, the assembly lines and the corresponding machinery should be planned and designed to be modular. This enables scalable layout and, in the case of increasing demand, a cost-effective increase in the number of units produced. Furthermore, for reasons of safety and ergonomics, rotor assembly presupposes the virtually complete automation of a number of manufacturing steps.

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  • Battery inspection systems

    In order to ensure that the high-voltage energy storage systems meet the high quality standards and strict safety requirements, KUKA systematically subjects them to various inspections in different process steps during production. These extensive function tests require corresponding know-how and experience in measuring and inspection technology.

In an age of electromobility, intelligent vehicles and completely new transport services, the automotive industry finds itself confronted with fundamental changes in all areas from development and production to logistics. Together with our customers, we face technological and business challenges. This is the only way to secure existing competitive advantages and create new ones.

Larry Drake, CEO KUKA Automotive division

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