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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ABB's flex-assembly is the world's first modular, scaleable assembly line. Designed to give rapid production flexibility and line expansion – by adding or removing modules – flex- assembly has been chosen by Getrag, DaimlerChrysler, and Visteon for key production centers in Germany, Mexico and the UK.
Flex-assembly is a direct response to the needs of automotive customers for a quick and efficient way to switch production from one product to another, or increase line capacity, without having to invest in a new assembly line.
It achieves this by dividing the assembly line into a series of modules – for pressing, screwing, assembly, and so on – that can be added, removed or reused to better meet the changing demands of the market.
As such flex-assembly is the first truly flexible assembly line to satisfy manufacturers' requirements for modularity, scalability, and exchangeability of work stations. It makes production changeovers and capacity expansion considerably faster and less expensive than existing systems.
Flex-assembly was initially tested by Getrag on a gear box assembly line at Rosenburg in Germany. The trial was so successful that Getrag ordered a second flex-assembly line for the same facility.
This was quickly followed by orders from DaimlerChrysler for a rear axle assembly line at its plant in Kassel in Germany and from Visteon for two power takeoff assembly lines at Coclisa in Mexico and Swansea in the UK.
“In developing flex-assembly we have listened very closely to the needs of our customers,” says Thomas Steinwartz, Manager of ABB's Powertrain Lead Center in Germany. “Each solution is customized to their requirements to ensure maximum flexibility and productivity.”
Flex-assembly was initially developed by ABB for the German market but is now part of ABB's offering for automotive customers worldwide.