Adaptive Tooling Systems improves efficiency of automotive production lines as the ever-growing demand for fully charged electric vehicles increases
Many vehicle manufacturers are pledging to stop manufacturing combustion engines in the next decade and investing heavily in the evolution of electric vehicles. At the same time, many consumers are looking for products and vehicles that are more environmentally friendly. What does this mean for the efficiency of automotive manufacturers’ operational processes and the impact on their production lines while still meeting manufacturing volumes and growing customer demands?
The automotive industry historically has relied on a traditional manufacturing process and, like many industries, are embracing changes to improve overall operational efficiencies through digital industrialisation. The industry is faced with the growing need to produce ‘batches of one’ while also facing pressures from environmental policies and tightening legislation. Automotive manufacturers must balance these challenges while continuing to adjust to meet growing customer demands.
Leidos’ Adaptive Tooling System (ATS) permits manufacturing to continue production while changing vehicle types, from gasoline and diesel through to partially or fully electric. Since the line continues, the manufacturer doesn’t sacrifice critical production time during the transition between vehicle types.
Our unique ATS allows manufacturers to have full flexibility with their tooling system. The ATS pallets act as a blank canvas, featuring a series of predrilled holes that can accommodate any tooling that is needed to build a particular vehicle. Manufacturers can continually change the tooling required to build further vehicle models on the same pallet and production line.
ATS will enable the automotive industry to meet the growing trend towards batches of one, allowing vehicle manufacturers to use the same production line to manufacture more. For example, an electric family sedan, hybrid sports car, and diesel pick up could be built in succession on the same line using the same ATS pallet with the necessary tools being removed and added at speed.
The manufacturing flexibility and fluidity that our adaptive tooling systems offers by using only one pallet irrespective of model and powertrain means that it can effectively be 100 percent recycled. Even the tooling has been designed with as many common components as possible to help maximise reuse. Moving towards ATS manufacturing eliminates the need to throw away pallets and tooling every time a new model is introduced, meaning ATS reduces the financial and environmental cost of introducing new product lines. It also helps to reduce the cost and time of a pallet to be produced as well as improving health and safety performance by ensuring that the right tools have been put in the right place.
At the moment, manufacturers cannot easily access data on the operating or maintenance condition of its pallets. However, by fitting an RFID tag to an ATS pallet, it is possible to gain access to a range of data that can be used for the management of and maintenance purposes, from tracking the location of a pallet through to ensuring the wear and tear of both the pallet and the adaptive tooling is monitored.
Not only that, our adaptive tooling systems encourages the introduction of collaborative working of humans alongside robots, which opens a wide range of new tasks and applications that collaborative robots (cobots) can effectively automate inside the factory.
As the world sees an increasing adoption of electric vehicles, now is the time to invest and transform traditional engineering approaches. Leidos is proud to support manufacturers to provide smarter, safer, and more cost-effective manufacturing.
NOTE: A patent application for the Leidos Adaptive Tooling System (ATS) has been filed and is currently in progress.