Dürr presents EcoProFleet as the first AGV for the paint shop of the future
Downtimes caused by sudden malfunctions are also reduced to a minimum since AGVs can be redirected to a different workstation or a different painting booth
Automobile production of the future is moving away from the production line and toward modular workstations. An important feature is flexible automatic guided vehicles, or AGVs for short. Dürr presented for the first time an AGV specifically designed for paint shops as a new solution for more intelligent production at its Open House, which recently took place at the company's headquarters in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany. EcoProFleet combines tried-and-tested industrial components with innovative ideas, like a new energy storage concept. This means that the AGV is ready for operation around the clock – without breaks for charging at the power outlet.
Whether it’s small cars or SUVs, with electric motors or combustion engines, the range of vehicle models painted in a plant is ever-increasing.
Manufacturers want to be able to easily integrate new vehicle types into the production process. This desire for flexibility and scalability is pushing linear production to its limits. The necessary migration to modular production is requiring manufacturers to rethink production logistics. In rigid painting lines, the process time for all car bodies depends on the model that requires the longest time in the individual stations. This results in waiting times for other bodies, which can be avoided with a modular process. Instead of transporting bodies using conveyor technology laid rigidly in the ground, they are moved independently and in parallel formation between work decks, like spot repair or polishing, and intermediate storage. EcoProFleet enables a modular painting process in which different processing times for the car bodies no longer cause waiting times. The resulting cost benefits are all the greater the more different and individual the bodies are constructed and painted. Downtimes caused by sudden malfunctions are also reduced to a minimum, since AGVs can be redirected to a different workstation or a different painting booth. "Scalability and flexibility are becoming increasingly important in paint shops. With EcoProFleet we have designed the first AGV for paint shops and thus created an important enabler for these requirements," says Jens Reiner, director R&D and product management at Dürr, describing the significance of the new development.
EcoProFleet is the first AGV that has been specifically optimized for the needs of paint shops. Its paint- and solvent-resistant platform is just 225 mm high. This low height means that the AGVs can go under all typical workstations and conveyor systems in order to drive a car body into a workstation, hand over, or pick up bodies, and thus work together perfectly at the interfaces. In order to transport the heavy loads, the EcoProFleet AGV is designed with an unladen weight of 850 kg in good proportion with the maximum load capacity of 1,000 kg. The integrated technology with laser scanner and safety limit speed guarantees a high level of safety.
The energy storage concept with supercap technology enables smart logistics tailored precisely to the painting process. EcoProFleet uses supercapacitors as energy stores, which charge within 1.5 minutes. The charging points are installed strategically in the plant layout where the AGV would be stationary anyway for passing off or picking up a body. This short time frame is enough to supply the supercaps with more than enough energy for the next section.
Compared with a battery-powered fleet, where a fixed number of transport systems always have to be kept plugged into a power outlet for hours, the major benefit of EcoProFleet’s energy concept is that all the AGVs are always on the move and working. This is guaranteed by a sophisticated control system, which is connected to DXQcontrol, the central production control technology from Dürr. Dürr offers a consistent, intelligent control system across all levels for the use of AGVs in paint shops: the device control for physical control of the individual AGVs, the fleet control for route planning and the higher-level order planning are transparently linked via interfaces. This allows AGVs to fully exploit their potential as a flexible and efficient transport system.