Comau has expanded its body production lines at one of the state-of-the-art automobile factories in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco to produce the new 7-seater Jeep Commander SUV. Comau has been commissioned to increase the flexibility of 14 complex lines to handle 4 different vehicle models in a completely random production flow. The increased flexibility also extends to model-specific assembly, welding and quality control operations based on available inserts. This feature helps optimize Jeep’s production volumes in light of the global pandemic, when components may be scarce for some models, as the system can automatically prioritize vehicles for which all inserts are in stock. In addition, the lines, each with a combination of automated, semi-automatic and manual operations, were installed during the plant’s natural downtime to ensure minimal impact on production.
Based on a lean manufacturing strategy, Comau’s innovative solution delivers increased process optimization and control. This is achieved through fewer manual operations, the use of advanced automation products and the reduction of extra equipment. For example, cameras are used to detect parts by shape, instead of sensors and photocells, and full-line 3D scanning at all stations ensures seamless robot alignment. Other advanced automation products, including patented laser welding, vision systems and RHEvo Roller Hemming solution, were also introduced. As such, Jeep benefits from increased model flexibility, improved equipment efficiency and improved quality inspection capabilities. Finally, to protect the scalability of the customer’s investment, the entire project was designed to enable Jeep to introduce new models in the future.
After mapping the actual production cycles, Comaus engineers worked with simulated cell units to obtain a more complete vision of the proposed modifications to the layout of the assembly line before installation. This enabled the team to optimize deployment on site and keep deployment-related downtime to a minimum. Finally, a total of 24 new robots, 24 new welding guns and 4 conveyors were added to the more than 620 assembly and welding robots already installed in the factory.
“Meeting Jeep’s challenging demands has led us to expand our innovative framing stations to four models for the very first time,” explained Laerte Scarpitta, Comau Cluster Leader for America. “This significant project gain is a direct result of our ability to support the customer in every step of the manufacturing process, and it’s amazing to see our groundbreaking assembly solutions produce this new 7-seater SUV.”
In addition to providing increased flexibility and performance, Comau’s in-depth knowledge and complete integration with Jeep’s engineering team assured the automaker that the project would be done right and that it would be done on time. Sure enough, despite a 2-month covid-related suspension, Comau Brazil was able to complete each project phase ahead of schedule.
Mateus Marchioro, Jeep Brazil Plant Manager, “From the very beginning, Comau has demonstrated its technical expertise, automation expertise and commitment to our success. Their total manufacturing solution requires less extra equipment and fewer manual processes. We are pleased with the overall performance of the new lines. ”
The Brazilian-clad project, which represents Comau’s global ability to respond to complex challenges while meeting the highest manufacturing standards, received direct support from Comau Romania, Comau Italy and Comau China. As such, Comau Brazil leveraged its local presence and long-standing expertise in automation, digitization and intelligent technologies to deliver the speed, quality and efficiency that customers like Jeep can rely on to manufacture their premium vehicles.