Martin Kinsella, Comau’s Director of Advanced Materials and Process Technology, underscored the need for advanced, flexible manufacturing strategies during his presentation at the International Automotive Body Congress (IABC) 2014, held at the Ford Conference and Event Center in Dearborn, Michigan on October 29-30, 2014. Mr. Kinsella discussed the challenges facing the manufacturing industry as it moves towards the use of multiple lightweight materials in body and closure systems.
Citing a recently published industry report forecast, Kinsella said, “Seven out of ten new pickup trucks produced in North America will be aluminum-bodied by 2025, with vehicle aluminum content approaching 35 billion pounds on a global scale.” He went on to explain that the use of other lightweight materials is also increasing, as well as the use of innovative joining technologies and new body break-downs. As a result, the industry needs to adopt flexible manufacturing strategies able to accommodate the use of multiple materials and innovative processes on the same vehicle.
According to Comau, the worldwide leader in automatic and flexible manufacturing systems that increase efficiency and optimize productivity, critical drivers for next-generation manufacturing include model/architecture flexibility, engineered logistics to optimize factory material and assembly flows, random build sequencing, diverse materials & joining methods, and lightweight BIW production capabilities.
To this end, Comau has developed the ComauFlex advanced manufacturing strategy to ensure:
- Model flexibility with random build sequencing (up to four unique models on the same line)
- More diverse materials and joining methods combined with volume flexibility
- Improved logistics and reduced traffic flow
- Consolidation of direct labor placement
- Compressed program timing
- Reduced facility footprint and volume
In the words of Mr. Kinsella, the comprehensive, production-proven, flexible manufacturing strategy is solution-focused as opposed to component-driven. Evolutionary in its philosophy and design, the modular and fully expandable system ensures advanced operational flexibility, is able to handle both high volumes and multiple models, and minimizes the impact on existing facilities. It also streamlines the layout of work areas and fully deploys lean manufacturing principles. In other words, Comau’s advanced materials strategy is equipped to handle a combination of efficient designs, principles and capabilities to join premium materials including aluminum, AHSS, PHS, carbon fiber composites and magnesium.
The International Automotive Body Congress is organized by the Global Automotive Management Council as a forum for engineers, managers, academics and industry executives to exchange ideas and discuss advances in automotive body technology and management systems. It also serves as a network to support research and the integration of new body technologies.
Martin Kinsella - Director of Advanced Materials and Process Technology
Martin Kinsella has over 30 years of experience in the automation industry and has worked for Comau since 1990. With a proven track record in all aspects of engineering and management, his responsibilities have included R&D, simultaneous engineering, Robcad and virtual factory simulation through system launch. In 2012, Martin became Comau’s Director of Advanced Materials and Process Technology, establishing Comau’s Global Centers of Excellence for Advanced Materials. The purpose of his role is to ensure Comau’s longstanding leadership in the application of advanced research and innovation to improve manufacturing processes within mission-critical industries throughout the world. It forms a key part of the company’s strategic approach to future manufacturing. Martin is a member of the American Lightweight Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute (established by President Obama in February 2014), in addition to the UK Trade and Investment Advanced Engineering Advisory Board.
Comau SpA is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of advanced industrial automation and the integration of products, processes and services that yield increased plant efficiency while reducing overall production costs. With headquarters in Turin, and facilities in 15 countries that employ more than 14,000 employees, Comau offers systems, welding and assembly lines for shells (Body Welding), machining and engine assembly systems (Powertrain), and a wide range of industrial robots for all applications. The company also provides eco-sustainability services and maintenance for a wide range of industries.