German Car Manufacturer Digitises the Pre-Series Process
Pre-series vehicles operate outside the established production lines and parallel to the process sequences that have been automated over the years. Many new components, many new variants require other process steps, specialised workplaces as well as highly flexible workers.
Theoretical plans are converted into realisable processes and test steps, assembly methods as well as quality specifications are reviewed and, if necessary, redefined, and all of this has to date been done using manual planning.
There are many special workplaces designed for special activities. Vehicles usually have to pass through these workplaces in a particular sequence. In addition, the corresponding picking trolleys with the components specifically prepared for the vehicle must be available at the same time as the vehicles.
Since 2020, the new Kathrein K-RTLS localisation system has been productively in use. It allows for a precise analysis, visualisation and optimisation of existing processes. A higher adherence to delivery dates and the reduction of waiting times go hand in hand with the increased efficiency of the special process.
All pre-series vehicles have been equipped with Kathrein UWB transponders since 2020. UWB (Ultra Wide Band) is not a new technology, but Kathrein has combined different technologies in one transponder for the first time. In addition to UWB RTLS, passive RAIN RFID UHF and NFC RFID transponder chips are also integrated, which for the first time have also been logically linked together. The transponder can thus be addressed via different technologies, and the whole system is rounded off with a 256-colour LED for optical feedback to the user.
If an already partially assembled car body comes into the pre-series which is already equipped with a passive UHF label, this ID is automatically assigned to the UWB transponder and the vehicle is then precisely located on 3 levels of the pre-series structure. In addition to the vehicles, the picking trolleys are also equipped with identical transponders.
This way, vehicles as well as component trolleys automatically report their position in real time as soon as they are moved, and an intelligently integrated motion sensor in the transponder allows only position changes that are relevant to the process to be transmitted. All this important information comes together in the Kathrein CrossTalk IoT software platform.
The group-wide and standard IoT software platform CrossTalk ensures productive operation by means of Device Management and is responsible for the visualisation of the process flow.
CrossTalk does not only report relevant process steps to the backend system, it also monitors process flows and can send an alert before time limits are exceeded or signal when free capacities are available.
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