KUKA lightweight robots successfully applied in automotive industry - Daimler uses LWRS on assembly line pilot project

KUKA lightweight robots successfully applied in automotive industry - Daimler uses LWRS on assembly line pilot project

05 December 2009

Well over 10,000 rear-axle gear boxes have already been built using KUKA lightweight robots since March 2009. The extremely sophisticated assembly tasks performed by the LWRs on this project require precision, a delicate touch and strength. The workers who do this job on a conventional production line are highly skilled, top performers. 

The lightweight robots were developed under the terms of a technology transfer agreement between the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics at Germany's Aerospace Center (DLR) and KUKA Roboter GmbH. This pilot project marks the first time they are being applied for automotive serial manufacturing. At a press conference held at Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim/ Mettingen factory on November 30, Manfred Gundel, CEO of KUKA Roboter GmbH, said: "The assembly of over 10,000 gear boxes proves that even complicated serial manufacturing processes can be automated using LWRs. This makes the LWR one of the next milestones in the future of robotics. It will open the door to new automated industrial applications."

Thanks to the integrated sensors that give the robot its delicate touch, the LWR has significant advantages when it comes to automating handling and assembly processes. It weighs only fourteen kilograms and consumes very little energy. The robot's movements mimic those of a human arm remarkably well. The degree to which it yields to external forces in automatic mode is configurable. There is no need for large safety zones protected by barriers. In addition to improving safety, this also frees up valuable manufacturing floor space. In future, operators will be able to manually guide the robot to various positions in the workspace and control it by means of a very simple user interface. Because it weighs so little, the robot can very easily be moved to any location, making it usable for a wide variety of tasks. The robot will thus be an intelligent part of the manufacturing process. At the press conference, Daimler AG's representative said the company is also evaluating other serial manufacturing application possibilities for the LWR.

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