Sodecia accelerates robot cell performance for automotive assembly

Tuesday October 13, 2015
Written by Beckhoff Automation
Oct. 13, 2015 - With 32 manufacturing facilities around the world, Porto, Portugal-based manufacturer Sodecia is a designer of highly automated assembly systems for the automotive industry. Sodecia strives to deliver higher performance and functionality while keeping cost under control, and has increased reliance on PC-based control technology in recent years.

Counting 12 of the world’s largest and best-known automotive manufacturers as key clients, Sodecia generates the bulk of its business in the auto industry. Sodecia operates globally as a full-service supplier of manufacturing solutions for chassis, powertrain, and body in white (BIW) commodities. In the automotive industry, BIW refers to the sheet metal components of vehicles that are welded together before moving components, such the motor, sub-assemblies and electronics, have been attached to the vehicle.

Based in London, Ont., Sodecia’s Global Tech & Automation Centre (GTAC) delivers automation products and engineering support to the company’s manufacturing divisions. “We pride ourselves on our ability to continue evolving,” says Brent Lekx-Toniolo, control system concept developer, Sodecia GTAC. “Our current ‘bread and butter’ product is our successful, turnkey robotic weld cell solution. Although each assembly line we build for the Sodecia manufacturing group is always slightly different (based on unique application requirements), the core machine technology remains the same.”

Unsurprisingly, cutting costs while maintaining and boosting product quality are the most amplified challenges faced by Sodecia as the company operates in the demanding automotive manufacturing marketplace. Systems integration offerings from Sodecia include pre-engineered, turnkey automation systems. Most competitive integrators rely on the end customer to select, for example, the PLC platform to be used on their projects. Sodecia GTAC is highly active in selecting best-in-class automation technologies that deliver the optimum results in every application.

PC-based control in the driver’s seat
Sodecia equipment arrives with all of the pre-engineered work already completed, providing a machine that is ready to go with minimal start-up time for the end user. This maximizes uptime and ensures auto production reboots very quickly with the introduction of a new line. Once the customer purchases their first Sodecia machine and they are comfortable with the design philosophy, the functions for future machine purchases can be learned in a fraction of the time, says the company. Sodecia does not manufacture one-off machines; all machines in the company portfolio have a high degree of similarity, keeping the learning curve on subsequent machines short.

The Sodecia GTAC integration group has been automating projects with PC-based control technology from Beckhoff technology since 2008. “To-date, Sodecia GTAC has built 49 manufacturing lines based on Beckhoff PC-based control, ranging anywhere from machines with a single robot to lines with over 20 articulated robots,” reflects Jon Bysma, controls specialist, Sodecia GTAC. One of the most recent Sodecia GTAC projects included 21 Kuka robots of various sizes, including payload capabilities ranging from 210 kg, 30 kg and 6 kg (KR 210, KR 30, and KR 6 series). The scale of this project is larger than any other undertaken by Sodecia GTAC.

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