Whether small cars or SUVs, with electric motors or combustion engines, the range of vehicle models being painted in a plant is ever-increasing. Manufacturers want to be able to easily integrate new vehicle types into the production process. This desire for flexibility and scalability is pushing linear production to its limits. The necessary migration to modular production is also requiring manufacturers to rethink their production logistics. Instead of transporting bodies using conveyor technology laid rigidly in the ground, they are moved independently and in a parallel formation between workstations, finishing booths, and intermediate storage. The resulting cost benefits are all the greater the more different and individual the bodies are constructed and painted, because the modular painting and production process means no more waiting times as a result of different processing times. Downtimes caused by sudden malfunctions are also reduced to a minimum, since AGVs can be redirected to a different workstation or a different painting booth. "Scalability and flexibility are becoming increasingly important in paint shops. With EcoProFleet we have designed the first AGV for paint shops and thus created an important enabler for these requirements," says Jens Reiner, Director R&D and Product Management at Dürr, describing the significance of the new development.
Exact fulfillment of paint-specific requirements
EcoProFleet is the first AGV that has been specifically optimized for the needs of paint shops. The paint- and solvent-resistant platform is just 335 mm high. This low height means that the AGVs can go under all typical workstations and conveyor systems in order to feed in, pass off, or pick up bodies, and thus work together perfectly at the interfaces. In order to transport the heavy loads stably, the EcoProFleet has been designed with an unladen weight of 850 kg in good proportion with the maximum load capacity of 1,000 kg. The integrated technology with laser scanner and safety limit speed guarantees a high level of safety.
Intelligent concept for energy supply and control
The energy storage concept with supercap technology enables smart logistics tailored precisely to the painting process. EcoProFleet uses capacitors as energy stores, which charge within just 1.5 minutes. The charging points are installed strategically in the plant layout where the AGV would be stationary anyway for passing off or picking up a body. This short time frame is enough to supply the supercap capacitors with more than enough energy for the next section. Compared with a battery-powered fleet, where a fixed number of transport systems always has to be kept plugged into a power outlet for hours, the big benefit of EcoProFleet’s energy concept is that all the AGVs are always on the move and working. This is guaranteed by a sophisticated control system, which is connected to DXQcontrol, the central production control technology from Dürr. Dürr thus offers a consistent, intelligent control system across all levels for the use of AGVs in paint shops: the device control for physical control of the individual AGVs, the fleet control for route planning and the higher-level order planning are transparently linked via interfaces. This allows AGVs to fully exploit their potential as a flexible and efficient transport system.
EcoProFleet is not only functionally convincing, but also attractive to look at: its successful design has won the prestigious IF Design Award.