The automated production faces various challenges arising from fluctuations in measurements of vendor parts. Especially for joining processes in automobile manufacturing the position and fit of the work pieces that are to be connected have to be within narrow bounds in order to meet the high quality standards. The quality of the components is tested and optimized on a regular basis. Parameters of the automated processes have partially to be adjusted manually, thus making this procedure inefficient.
In order to reduce such manual intervention to a minimum, the welding process applied to the car body construction of the Volkswagen model Touran (Wolfsburg plant) is observed in a manufacturing cell by the quality management system ARGOS. ARGOS is a modular system developed by the Steinbeis Transfer Center. It interacts as a “cyber physical system” (CPS) ensuring an adaptive monitoring of a production process with its physical components.
The experts of the Steinbeis Transfer Center at the Jade University of Applied Sciences in Wilhelmshaven work in the field of “Industry 4.0”. They deal with the cross linking of process systems concerning production and quality supervising information processing. CPS interact “machine-to-machine” via embedded and network-based technologies. The integration of physical objects, like sensors and devices, into digital processes lead to a flexible coupling of systems which did not have common interfaces before. Depending on the task, the software ARGOS is able to evaluate the process and sensor parameters and can process them goal-oriented by using sensor networks. Additional internal sensors ensure this evaluation and discrepancies can be compensated in real-time via actuators.
With this application, which was implemented together with the Volkswagen AG, welding parameters as well as quality relevant properties of the component geometry are monitored and analyzed. If discrepancies are detected, the production process will be automatically adjusted through control and regulation algorithms in order to ensure a high-quality welding seam. Manual adaptations of the process parameters are no longer necessary.
The technical realization as well as the implementation and testing of the system during the ongoing production process was a challenge for the experts and could only be handled through the excellent cooperation and communication between the participating project partners.
The potential of the application, which is awarded the Steinbeis Foundation´s Transfer Award – Löhn Award, is enormous, because now not only welding engineering processes can be monitored and adapted, but also numerous other production processes in the future.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Liebenow
Steinbeis Transfer Center Applied Production and Joining Technology / ARGOS Systems Engineering, Oldenburg