SICK has supplied its IVC-3D smart camera to enable a robot see with precision on an automotive assembly line at a Chinese car manufacturing plant.
Chinese car manufacturer Chery Automobile in Anhui province is one of the largest manufacturers in China with a 40% share of the export market and an annual output of 700,000 vehicles.
The company is currently automating its production environment in order to fully utilise its current production capacity of 900,000 vehicles and engines.
One example is the automatic removal of engine blocks and their singulation on a conveyor belt. The unfinished diecast aluminium housings are delivered on pallets from the Chery power train foundry in batches of 30 units, each unit weighing up to 20kg and lifted manually by workers on to the conveyor system.
Chery decided to replace the manual order picking with robots for reasons of occupational safety and the harsh working conditions. A key challenge in automating this task was that the cast parts, being located on top of or beside each other, tipped over or shifted, did not have a fixed position on the pallet, which meant the robot never encountered the same position for picking.
The IVC-3D, SICK’s range of 3D smart cameras was fitted to the robot’s arm to scan the engine block and transmit the coordinates to the robot system, allowing it to align accordingly and grip the items accurately and with precision. The 3D camera provides the robot with eyes that allow it to see flawlessly even in the third dimension and under dusty and low-contrast ambient conditions of the assembly line.
Due to its high measuring precision featuring integrated evaluation, the IVC-3D smart camera allows smooth order picking of the cast parts at high speed. Up to 5,000 profiles per minute are evaluated and the results sent without the detour of an additional PC directly to the robot as a gripping coordinate.
Jake Jin from SICK’s Chinese automotive team worked in close cooperation with Chery’s production engineer to implement the easy-to-integrate solution, facilitating more efficient processes with the robot taking off from where the forklift deposited the pallet.
This approach integrates machine assembly automatically into component logistics and optimises the overall process at the car manufacturing plant.