|Rationale||Need for Action||Economic Impact|
Flexibility of production as well as customer orientation play a very demanding role nowadays. This leads to highly customizable products so that the number of variants to produce exceeds many expectations. This is true especially for all sorts of products in the automotive area, but also for other consumer products, e.g., leisure products. The average lotsize is decreasing very much. In many industries, the actual lotsize is practically 1 because a batching process over a certain period is not possible due to the strong customer delivery requirements.
Need for action
This dramatically affects the economic potential of many conventional automation concepts. For certain manufacturing processes, e.g., in the assembly or painting area the critical production volume and lotsize to enable economic efficient flexible automation is far beyond 10000 pieces per year. All processes, not being able to establish higher volumes suffer from the technical constraints for automation so that still a manual operation is most efficient in economic figures.
A very high potential can be seen in all painting applications. Here, the technology for mass production based on robots, off-line programming and advanced colour application techniques is already available. But, if it comes to lower volumes per year (less than 10000), current robots flexibility limits the applicability to these processes.
Main economic benefit will be the challenge to automate painting operations not economically possible before. E.g., painting of truck-frames with up to 70000 variants and a typical lotsize of practically 1. Reduced programming effort for off-line programming for part varnishing in small lot sizes (approx. <10000 pieces). Reduced dependence on skilled robot programmers able to understand the painting process and robot programming in detail. This will enable to target new markets for automating complex painting applications for the first time.