This small robot with three positioning axes is used as a positioner to support the car body or workpieces. Previously, jigs would have been used for this. But with different car models being produced on the same line, and each model requiring a different jig, the case for an adjustable solution becomes clear. Typically during work, the car body or workpiece can be supported on four or more FlexPLPs.

The linear version of such a positioning stage is not new – several models are available on the market – but this one has very specific features. The unit is modular, allowing each axis to be used as a standalone product if required. The design is also highly compact and its motor is enclosed for better protection. The process cables run inside the three axes of the unit to its extremity, where they power the actuator and collect information from sensors.
The design presented the challenge of protecting the inside of the slide from the harsh environment caused by dust, fumes, welding splatters etc. that characterize the working conditions of a BIW line. The conventional solutions used for protecting such a linear slide influence the stroke, making the unit more cumbersome. Instead, protection had to be achieved by design. The shape of the sliding section allows a cable cover to run through it. This ensures good protection without calling for more conventional bellows, which are both fragile and require more space.

The customer can reap considerable benefits with this technology: Introducing a new car model in the line is just a matter of programming the new positions for locators. This operation can be achieved off-line, using simulation software (such as ABB RobotStudio), with only a short production break for final tuning.

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