Automotive manufacturers have been facing a tough climate due to rising costs and stiff competition in the industry.Thus to be prudent,they are working on a strategy to refine and innovate their manufacturing processes that will make their projects financially profitable and improve their capabilities to face the dynamically demanding market in terms of supply,time,technologies and logistics.
It’s the age of Robots which is playing a very crucial role in automation of the process of body assembly as they improve production volumes and maintain consistency in quality and precision when compared to humans.This has lead to 95pcent automation in the body in white assembly.A major reason that has lead to increased inclination towards robots is the factory worker’s safety as this reduces physical hazards.
OEMs are working on strategies to focus on weight reduction which means we would get to see lighter body with modular design. This would bring in changes in the manufacturing processes as suppliers will produce efficient and lighter machines which can be easily moved along the assembly line and can work on different platforms. . For example, laser welding is an important area of weight saving (22 per cent reduction in weight on the Up) and can be used to weld parts comprising different shapes and materials as well.
For so long,the strategy had been the use of aluminium for engine and body and now,innovations have started and manufacturers are working on different materials like Compacted Graphite Iron.Automobile major BMW has used composite magnesium – aluminium alloy for engine blocks at its German plant.The automobile industry is getting more environment conscious and is working on doing its bit for the environment by focussing on shapes and material wastage
Further,focus has also been on the number of operations to manufacture components.As an example, for its production a crankshaft needs 15 operations in Europe whereas its 25 in China.Manufacturers are getting inclined towards higher level of automation to reduce their labor costs. Machines with parallel kinematic for higher flexibility on smart assembly lines are being more utilized now.
The socio-political market will determine the manufacturing process strategies of automotive manufacturers.The areas of impact will be on four : Automotive and components as product,production process and technology.
Micro manufacturing, machine vision and smarter robots being advanced manufacturing methods now might just be the beginning as digitalization of factories are the target for OEMs.
Going forward,the three crucial areas of focus for industry will be :
Due to temporary layoffs and austerity measures happening in the European automotive industry,OEMs have to start working on their strategies and give extreme significance to achieve that optimized smart manufacturing process.