Safety and quality standards at automobile plants have become more stringent as customers are now more fastidious about vehicle safety and quality.
A chunk of the team working at the Sanand plant of Ford Motor Co is not human and can complete the welding for an entire vehicle in a mere 84 seconds. They are robots and are among the 453 used in the shop floor. Automation volumes for work now encompass a whopping 90% here. Robots are steadily undertaking several jobs at automobile plants. Volkswagen India works with 123 robots at its Pune plant while Hyundai Motor India has a lineup of 400 for its Chennai factory. The body shop, final assembling and paint shop are the key areas where automation is now being enforced in most automobile plants. Robots are carrying out jobs like foundry operations, welding and even laser applications.
Automation levels are also being scaled up by Indian carmakers like Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors for the body shop. With vehicles becoming more and more sophisticated, manufacturing duties are steadily attaining newer levels of complexity. Safety and quality standards are now stricter than before too while customers insist on nothing but the best when it comes to car purchases without compromising on price points. To keep up with the demand for the best at competitive prices, automobile companies are steadily going in for automation particularly with regard to safety and crash requirements, styling and use of new materials. Some functions cannot be executed by humans when it comes to precision.
Safety of workers is another major aspect here as well. Activities like roof laser welding are immensely risky for human workers. Robots help companies bring down safety risks, save costs and eliminate wastage immensely. 50% reduction in material consumption for sealants was witnessed by Volkswagen when automation took over underbody sealer applications. Hyundai has also automated jobs like pre-paint cleaning, sealer applications, body panel loading and oil application. Programmed robots ensure cleaner and better cars through repeatability and accuracy. There is no job monotony for robots while they help bring uniformity into their tasks, reduce waste and facilitate direct cost savings between 10-20%.