Advances in Robotics Improving Car Painting
Automation in manufacturing can provide many benefits, from reduced risk of human error to greater worker safety. For the automotive coating process, use of robotic systems can also improve the paint quality while reducing waste. J-CO America, the U.S. branch of Italian company Geico, a global supplier of turnkey automated automotive coating and painting systems, has incorporated robotic painting with advanced software and digital solutions to create the “Smart Paintshop”. The company presented the latest update of its technology in June 2018 at Surcar Detroit 2018, a trade show dedicated to automotive paint finishing.
The Smart Paintshop system was first introduced in 2016 to increase the efficiency, security, quality and cost-savings, and reduced environmental impact for automotive paintshops. It received the Surcar 2017 Innovation Award at SurCar Cannes. The CTRL+PaINT system includes robots and portals equipped with optical inspection instruments that can be used regardless of the color and type of paint being applied to the vehicle. The Smart CONVEYOR AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) technology is set on simple stands and moves freely on the factory floor without pre-determined routes. The J-Suite centralized digital platform allows for the monitoring and management of all relevant aspects of the coating process, including operations, quality, and predictive maintenance. The Smart PaintShop includes “auto body geolocation, safety sensors preventing malfunctions, an Internet of Things application analyzing and accelerating painting phases in real time, wearable technology keeping man and machine in perfect sync, augmented reality, an innovative system controlling energy consumption, added flexibility, and every part of the process coordinated in the cloud by J-Suite, the ‘avatar’ of the auto body paint plant,” according to the company.
It is also worth noting that Geico achieved its 2020 goal for the company’s Energy Independence Day project three years in advance. The goal was to create a paintshop that operated with 70% less energy consumption than the industry average of 900 kWh/body in 2005. The Smart Paintshop achieved this level of energy savings in 2017, with energy consumption of 270 kWh/body.
At Surcar 2018, the company also highlighted its “Leandip HP” technology, a new advanced conveyor technology for high-production pre-treatment/electro-deposition (PT/ED) coating. According to J-CO America, this system provides the production flexibility of an electrical independent shuttle along with the standard features of a pure mechanical system, allowing for easy maintenance.