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Task: Checking bodywork welds at AUDI in Brussels, even in places that it is impossible or difficult for operators to get to.

Solution: A CR-7iA/L cobot is fitted with a vision system for checking welds. The cobot works together with the operators to supplement the quality control procedure carried out by them.

Result: The quality control operators have more confidence in their results because the robot takes on some of their tasks and so creates additional opportunities without jeopardizing the role of the operators themselves.

Technology plays an important role at Audi and the company is doing all it can to lead the way in this regard. “A good example of this is that this year we were the first Audi factory to bring out a CO2-neutral product when we introduced a new product, namely the Audi e-tron”, says Patrick Danau, Managing Director of Audi in Brussels.

A lot of robots are already used in the factory and now there are also collaborative robots.

Patrick Danau; “We use the principle of the 3Ds. Any tasks that are dirty, difficult and dangerous are arguments for using a robot. Recently these have been joined by a fourth D, namely demography. This brings us into contact with the collaborative robots that are now starting to appear.”

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One advantage of the cobots is that they don’t require a protected safety zone, which means that they also take up less space, and this saves money”, says Geert De Cop, cobot engineer in the bodyshop. “Other advantages are of course that they can work directly with the operators and that they will support them ergonomically. And that means that in future we will be able to employ workers with physical or minor physical disabilities for certain jobs where cobots provide assistance.”

Working with the workers to implement technology

In a project realised in conjunction with FANUC, a CR-7iA/L cobot is fitted with a vision system for checking welds.

Geert Motte, chassis zone spokesperson: “The cobot checks different welds for presence, length and position in places that operators either can’t or find difficult to get to.”

The workers appreciate the help that they get from the cobot, says Mark Van Heirzeele, Head of bodywork. “They are more certain of their quality because the robot takes on some of their checking tasks. At the same time they can see that their jobs are not under threat in any way. That has been very important for us.”

In future Audi will use even more collaborative robots in the production process.

It is really important to activate the robot for ergonomic issues”, says prevention consultant Walter Seminck. “In production we need a system that can run smoothly and independently at all times. So robots can provide valuable support to people in their work.”
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Together with FANUC we have put together a great project“, says Managing Director Patrick Danau. “We have succeeded in making the use of cobots acceptable to the social partners and to the workers. This proves that technology can be implemented together with the workers.