First HRC system at BMW Group's Dingolfing Plant

The employees at BMW Group’s Dingolfing Plant have a new, highly responsive assistant: the LBR iiwa lightweight robot from KUKA, which primarily takes over monotonous and physically demanding tasks.

The initial situation

BMW employees previously had to lift heavy, not easy to grasp differential cases during the assembly of the front axle drive by adjusting them to the millimeter. Now the robot is handling this ergonomically demanding job.

The task

The special challenge in designing the system was the limited space available for the HRC design. It had to be spatially integrated into the production line, in which front-axle transmissions for different series with 4-wheel drive are mounted.

Sensitive joining of bevel gears in the Human-Robot-Collaboration-Operation (HRC)

The solution

The solution developed by KUKA Systems: a lean steel construction in the form of gallows to which a LBR iiwa is attached. This saves space, because the sensitive lightweight robot can work hanging. External sensors are not required because the LBR iiwa has joint-torque sensors in each of its seven axes. In addition, the end effector of the robot has been provided with an edge-free and rounded HRC sleeve, so that it is HRC-capable and the worker is always protected against injuries. The compact control cabinet also found its place in the existing production line and provides the interface for system control. Humans and robots are now working together to install the differential cases for the front axle transmissions - in less than half a minute.

We will see significantly more applications of this kind in the automotive industry in the future. In times of increasing diversity of variants, it is a clear competitive advantage to optimally adapt production to the required capacity - using flexible HRC units, for example.

Juergen Seifert, project leader for sensitive robotics at KUKA Systems

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