Dürr’s final assembly technology ensures efficient electric car production at Volkswagen Zwickau.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Preparing existing factories for manufacturing electric cars requires comprehensive modernizations. This was also true for the Volkswagen site in Zwickau. Highly efficient technologies like a direct screwing system for securing the battery, a modified filling system for various refrigerants, and conveyor technology adapted to the undercarriage geometry of the electric car platform ensures an efficient manufacturing process. For flexible manufacturing of the vehicles on a large scale, Dürr also developed a new automated window gluing solution for Volkswagen that enables side window installation using the line tracking process for the first time.
For final assembly, the systemic shift towards electric mobility means enormous structural changes. Just how far-reaching they are is demonstrated by the rebuild of Volkswagen’s shop floor in Zwickau. Since June 2020, only electric cars have rolled off the line, and the production volume will increase up to 330,000 units per year in the future. Dürr responded to the new challenges in final assembly with the NEXT.assembly strategy for the final assembly business. It brings together expertise in all areas from planning and consulting to conveyor, gluing, assembly, and filling technology to the end-of-line test stands and the appropriate digital solutions for final assembly. This process enables manufacturers to select individual components from a modular system or an optimized overall solution for their electric vehicles. Precisely how this portfolio from Dürr adapts to customers’ needs can be illustrated using the example of Volkswagen’s site in Zwickau.
Window insertion: highly automated and flexible
The glazing center for the Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) underwent significant automation during the factory modernization. In the future, everything will take place fully automatically: the feeding of the large windows from sequenced transport containers and the side windows from type-specific transport containers by the logistics module, the glue application and insertion of the large windows in cycle operation and the side windows in flow operation. Previously, the automated insertion of side windows was only possible in stop-and-go mode. The line tracking process developed in close cooperation with Volkswagen changes this by keeping the bodies moving on skillet platforms while robots glue in the side windows. Significant cost reductions result since the conveyor technology no longer needs to be adapted to the cycle operation. Moreover, manufacturers have the flexibility to select the location because they can integrate the side window gluing system anywhere on the assembly line.
Marriage: greater speed, lower costs
The Zwickau factory is ideally equipped for the modified marriage process for electric vehicles with eight x-gun multi-direct screwing systems. Dürr developed this system specifically for bringing together the body and battery, and achieved an unprecedented level of automation. This patented screwing device holds up to four screws in a magazine and fastens them one after another with just one screwdriver. With eight x-gun systems, this is equivalent to 26 screws every minute. Since intermediate spindles on pallets are no longer needed, these costs no longer apply.
Filling technology: big on variants, small on space
Different refrigerants are used for climate control in the interior of the ID.3 manufactured in Zwickau. One option sees Volkswagen using the refrigerant R744 for the first time since its thermodynamic properties mean it can be used for cooling and heating. The energy saved increases the electric cars’ range. The manufacturing changeover requires a new technological approach for the filling technology too. The conversion aimed to fill the vehicles with R744 in the same cycle time as for the previously used refrigerants. This new process required modernizing the filling technology from the base unit to the adapters for the new adapter generation G4 Blue. By modifying the travel consoles, it was possible to integrate the new components for R744.
Conveyor technology: compatible and functional
The pilot hall of the Zwickau factory has a 256-meter long section for overhead conveyors. In the past, 22 C-hangers with scissor lifts were used to transport the bodies. However, these are not compatible with the undercarriage geometry of the MEB platform due to the high-voltage battery. Dürr replaced the 22 pairs of C-hanger arms with 4-arm hangers on the body carrier scissors lift subframe. Since bodies are now no longer conveyed with wheels in the hanger, the scope of supply included an appropriate lifting platform for wheel assembly and the transfer operation.
In Zwickau, the individual components from the NEXT.assembly modular system come together in a final assembly system where all processes and technologies are optimally positioned for the age of electromobility.
Dürr shows the fully automated side window assembly process using line tracking here in the video: https://www.durr.com/en/products/sealing-gluing-technology/gluing-solutions-final-assembly
The Dürr Group has been established in the United States since 1970 and currently employs approximately 1,400 people. From the Campus with a state-of-art validation, testing, and training center in Southfield, MI, Dürr USA represents four of the five divisions. Paint and Final Assembly Systems offers equipment for painting and assembly processes, while Application Technology provides paint, sealants and adhesives application systems. Dürr’s Clean Technology Systems division is leading in air pollution control, noise abatement systems, and battery electrode coating lines. Dürr has three locations in the US: Dürr Systems, Inc. in Southfield, MI, and De Pere, WI; Durr Universal, Inc. in Stoughton, WI. The subsidiary Schenck USA Corp., with headquarters in Deer Park, NY, and additional locations in Hudson, MA, and Southfield, MI, offers balancing machines, vibration and condition monitoring systems, spin testing and services for the aerospace, automotive and general industry. The customers of Dürr USA include automotive and commercial vehicle manufacturers, as well as their suppliers, and a diverse group of other industries like the chemical or wood industry. HOMAG Machinery North America operates the production facilities for HOMAG Group in Grand Rapids, MI, which is also the base for the sales and service company Stiles Machinery Inc. The HOMAG Group produces machinery and equipment for the woodworking industry.
The Dürr Group is one of the world’s leading mechanical and plant engineering firms with extensive expertise in automation and digitalization/Industry 4.0. Its products, systems and services enable highly efficient and resource-saving manufacturing processes in different industries. The Dürr Group supplies sectors like the automotive industry, mechanical engineering, chemical, pharmaceutical, medical technology and woodworking industries. It generated sales of € 3.32 billion in 2020. The company has more than 17,000 employees and 121 business locations in 33 countries. Since February 2021, the majority-owned automation specialist Teamtechnik has also been part of the Group. The Dürr Group operates in the market with the brands Dürr, Schenck and HOMAG and with five divisions:
- Paint and Final Assembly Systems: paint shops as well as final assembly, testing and filling technology for the automotive industry, assembly and test systems for medical devices
- Application Technology: robot technologies for the automated application of paint, sealants and adhesives
- Clean Technology Systems: air pollution control, noise abatement systems and coating systems for battery electrodes
- Measuring and Process Systems: balancing equipment and diagnostic technology
- Woodworking Machinery and Systems: machinery and equipment for the woodworking industry
Dürr Systems, Inc.
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