Production of the Citroën C3 Aircross involves the implementation of new processes and technological advances in production areas as diverse as bodywork, paint and assembly, among others.
PSA-Opel has implemented many changes, both in areas of production and the technological sphere, improvements that, according to Alejo Catalán, tech-nical director of the Figueruelas plant, have been introduced both for the Opel Crossland X and the Citroën C3 Aircross. For the press shop, for example, tooling to transport modular pieces has been installed for both models. An innovative development in respect to the tooling previously used for Class.
A transfer press. In contrast to previous tooling, which was welded, the innovative new development is flexible, meaning that it can be reused for subsequent projects by simply making the necessary adjustments to adapt them to the parts of the new model. “This modular concept had already been applied to the automated robot lines but this time we have applied it to the automation of transfer parts”, adds Catalán.
In terms of bodywork, all the lines are completely flexible between the Crossland X and the C3 Aircross. What’s more, work has been carried out to increase the capacity of one of the Framing 2 facilities, in which the underbody is joined to the interior and exterior side panels for both models. An additional welding robot has been installed to improve cycle time and to free space for new projects. Another one of the areas that has had a complete overhaul is the “marriage” of the underbody, which now has “a new production building, a completely new, robotised system; with lines interconnected by parts bins, arc welding and adaptive control, as well as sequence production”, says the technical director.
Catalán also refers to new developments for hinged parts, which have “completely new, robotised systems”. For the assembly of doors, different booths have been added: for remote laser welding; for the boot door’s MIG brazing process and for the hood, with a clinching system that uses rivets (Henrob patent) and a roller hemming system.
Moreover, modular side panels are used for the production of the vehicle’s side panels, within a completely new, robotised system, with lines interconnected by parts bins, arc welding and adaptive control. Sequence production, tooling mounted on revolving drums and tables for flexible production and automatic and robotised loading of exterior panels is also employed, as well as the use of very high strength steel for hot stamping.
Finally, for body framing, Figueruelas has introduced the robotised unloading of side panels from an overhead trolley train, one sole geometry box for joining side panels to the roof and a booth for the laser welding of the roof to the side panels with bronze wire. The latter also employs a subsequent automatic sanding process.
“With the new models, the ability to paint cars in two colours has also been introduced in the paint shop, which means processing the same vehicles two times. This has a direct impact on the paint shop’s capacity”, explains Catalán. “Therefore, it has been necessary to modify this area to increase the capacity to 20 cars per hour, with the installation of new paint robots, a new curing oven and new masking and inspection lines”, he concludes.
“In terms of new technology, we are applying advanced technology (Industry 4.0)”, explains Hans Juergen, head of I.T. for the Opel Zaragoza factory. “One example is IoT (Internet of Things)”, he continues. “We are using data analysis techniques that facilitate the introduction of new models such as the Opel Crossland X and the Citroën C3 Aircross”. In bodywork, for example, an application has been developed that collects all of the knowledge of welding experts. By analysing data from each welding point, situations that put quality at risk can be anticipated and avoided. “Furthermore, by comparing millions of points, we are supplied with the most suitable set of parameters for each welding controller, facilitating programming and reducing the start-up time for new models”, said Juergen.
In regard to paint, inspections of the quality of the finish have been automated. Cameras track the surface of the vehicle in search of the smallest defect. By processing the information provided by this system, trends in the distribution of defects are displayed to facilitate their removal. “Likewise, the correlation between the detected defects and paint parameters furnish us with valuable information that is used to optimize the aforementioned process”, adds the head of I.T. Lastly, in terms of final assembly, data is collected on the different factors (quality, breakdowns, etc.) affecting performance. “By correlating these factors with the options presented by the new models, configurations can be set for those vehicles that have the largest impact on performance and the facilities can be optimised for said configurations”, concludes Juergen.