Automated self-pierce riveting and studding

Robotics specialist FANUC has supported robot integrator DForce Engineering with the design and installation of two complete automation cells for aluminium underbody components for a prestigious automotive manufacturer.

Leicester-based DForce Engineering has a portfolio of blue-chip clients in the automotive, nuclear and aerospace industries. Among its key customers is Sertec Group, a worldwide business in the automotive sector. The relationship has evolved from jig and fixture design to manufacturing, planning and software design, to full system supply. For its latest project, DForce sought the robotics expertise of FANUC UK.

With the arrival of a new vehicle concept, DForce’s client Sertec required two complete automation cells for the self-pierce riveting (SPR) and self-pierce studding (SPS) of aluminium underbody components as four complete sub-assemblies for its UK automotive production line. At the heart of each cell was a FANUC robot.

Says DForce director Gary Hill:“FANUC robots are a benchmark in the automotive industry. They were a natural choice for this project.”

According to Hill, FANUC’s ROBOGUIDE system was essential to achieving a rapid turnaround: “ROBOGUIDE was used to simulate both the robot’s motion and its application commands, significantly reducing the creation of new motion set-ups. It enabled us to design, test and modify both cells entirely offline, before and during the assembly process.”

As well as reducing design time, DForce wanted to make cost and space savings too, as Hill explains: “We proposed using the larger of the cells with the addition of RH and LH self-pierce studded assembly parts, running three different assemblies through one cell by using a FANUC R2000iC robot. This essentially cut the cost, floor area and cycle times for Sertec by delivering two cells instead of three.”
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