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Modular assembly system provides the highest flexibility

With flex decking the Italian Dürr subsidiary CPM S.p.A. invented a modular assembly system for medium to high production rates. Flex decking does not only provide the highest flexibility possible during construction and production, it is also easy to move or relocate. Thanks to its flexibility the system is highly suitable for mixed production of different models, powertrains and segments and is therefore able to cope with all new trends and fast changing production lines in the automotive industry.

→ Flex decking is designed for the automatic assembly of car bodies with their mechanical parts and eventually batteries, in case of the new electrical vehicles. It can be fully automatic or combine highly automated systems with servo-assisted manual workstations, where ergonomic standards for the operators are always held in the highest consideration.

The final assembly line is self-supporting and modular. Each module is equipped with the handling systems and conveyor technology required for the respective working process. This allows the greatest possible adaptation to individual customer requirements, like implementing, reducing or modifying it by adding or removing modules. In this concept, every module houses a workstation, where all car assembly operations take place.

CPM S.p.A.

The Dürr subsidiary → CPM S.p.A. specializes in turnkey solutions for complete final assembly plants in the automotive and aerospace sectors as well as industry in general.

The structuring on levels offers the best performance with the smallest footprint, especially in the countries where the costs for industrial lands are high. Using elevators and our conveyor technology, the pallets carrying the mechanical parts of the car ready for assembly can be easily moved from one floor to another.

NEXT.assembly is Dürr’s new final assembly strategy which combines all final assembly technologies and processes into a powerful one-stop-shop. Read more about NEXT.assembly in the info box.

NEXT.assembly: Combined technical expertise from Dürr for an efficient final assembly of the future

Dürr’s NEXT.assembly provides customers around the world with processes and technologies for optimized final assembly solutions, enabling them to manufacture their vehicles as efficiently as possible.
NEXT.assembly is the most comprehensive service on the market: Dürr is a one-stop shop for efficient solutions ranging from initial concept planning, consulting and the implementation of individual processes in adhesive bonding technology and in conveyor, assembly, filling and test systems to process-optimized plants. With NEXT.assembly Dürr uses synergies at all levels and increases value with the help of intelligent, networked processes.

How does flex decking work in detail?

1 | Pallet: The pallet is the first part of the flex decking process. It is loaded with the mechanical parts of the car (and eventually the battery) and transports them along the assembly line to the so-called marriage station. Here the car is to be assembled with the mechanical parts. The pallet consists of a base frame (main pallet) and several sub-pallets, which are loaded in the pick-up station with the parts that will be needed, according to the vehicle that is currently produced.

2 | Pallet buffer line: The mixed production of electric vehicles and traditional cars on the same production lines requires some adjustments. The buffer line of both types of pallets – the one that carries the traditional and the one with the electric powertrain – allows the buffering as well as the easy and automatic picking of the pallet needed according to the MES programming. The pallet buffer line can also be easily integrated on existing lines with a very low impact.

3 | Automatic battery loading station: Located just before the marriage station, a robot positions the battery for electric motors on the central part of the pallet.

4 | Marriage: The marriage is without a doubt the heart of the assembly shop. The car body, which comes in hanging conveyor technology, joins its mechanical parts that come on the pallet. The station is equipped with special programmable grippers for the handling of the shock absorbers of different models on the same line. Advanced artificial vision systems guarantee their correct positioning while simultaneously all parts are brought into the correct position and get ready for bolting.

5 | Flex bolt: Flex decking also includes our flex bolt cartesian system. In a multilevel plant, flex bolt is located on a so-called mezzanine, an intermediate floor. The loaded pallets and the car body move on the upper level after having been joined in the marriage station. Proceeding to the next station they reach the first of many automatic bolting stations. This is where the flex bolts come into play, managing the automatic bolting of the car underbody from below with a completely automatic process.

6 | Back up station: The back up station receives the results of the tightening processes from the flex bolt stations and, if necessary, repeats the tightening operations until the optimal parameters are reached. The tightening repetition can be completely manual with an operator bringing the screwdrivers into position, semi-automatic with an operator setting the system up or fully automatic where the back-up station communicates with the flex bolt station and repeats the screwing based on transmitted data.

7 | Servo-assisted screwing stations: Flex decking includes also some servo-assisted screwing stations (e.g. for the engine compartment as well as front and rear shock absorbers).

8 | Demarriage: On the demarriage station, the empty pallets leave the fully assembled car, which is still in the hanging conveyor. The now empty pallet goes back to level zero, ready to load mechanical parts again.

9 | Pick-up: The pick-up station is where empty sub-pallets are unloaded onto the sub-assembly lines while other, just loaded sub-pallets are put on the base frame of the main pallet according to the features of the model to be produced.

10 | Slat conveyor and man mover: The slat conveyor is located at level zero and transports the pallet along the preparation line, while it is being loaded. The slat provides easy access for the operators, it allows ergonomic operations and enables a various range of tasks. The man mover is a moving belt that moves at the same speed as the slat conveyor. The system facilitates the line feeding, as small parts kits travel together with the operator.

11 | One-arm rotating hanger: A one-arm rotating hanger is an integral part of the flex decking and can be combined with the innovative transport system: the Twin Trolley System® (TTS). It adds to the flexibility of the entire flex decking installation and can also be used in other parts of the production line (like chassis line).

Light deck

Light deck is the new generation of flex decking, which is the perfect solution for low to medium production rates. Unlike the traditional flex decking, it is designed on one level, being therefore also suitable to plants with reduced heights. → Light deck is a flexible and modular system, whose transit stations can be easily converted to working stations if production requirements change over time. It is compatible with any type of conveyor (either TTS® or traditional ones) and in case of line modifications it does not require special foundations or civil works, since its structure is self-supporting.

In combination with the advanced technology of ProFleet, the new AGV system for general assembly, light deck reaches its full potential.