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Automation in cable assembly for Continental AG

  • Continental AG and HAHN Robotics develop automation solution for cable assembly in the manufacture of hydraulic brake systems
  • ABB's YuMi robot grips, centers and installs an elastic cable
  • Solution provides automation of a highly complex process, as well as highly noticeable ergonomic relief for employees

The Continental AG in Rheinböllen

Continental AG develops intelligent technologies for the mobility of people and their goods. As a reliable partner, Continental offers international automobile manufacturers and industrial partners sustainable, safe, convenient, individual and affordable solutions. The group is divided into the Rubber Group and Automotive Group. The ContiTech and Tire divisions are part of the Rubber Group.

The Automotive Group consists of the three divisions Interior, Vitesco Technologies and Chassis & Safety. The Chassis & Safety division develops and produces integrated active and passive vehicle safety technologies as well as products that support driving dynamics. Continental Chassis & Safety is one of the global market leaders in the hydraulic brake systems business. One of the production sites is in Rheinböllen.

The challenge

As part of the installation of a hydraulic brake by Continental AG, a sensor cable is automatically installed, which is used to indicate the wear on the brake shoes. This last step in the production chain for the braking system was previously carried out by hand through company employees. The material properties and flexibility of the cable made automating this production step a major challenge so far. Two factors make automation desirable for companies and employees: Overall, the number of manual work steps in production is reduced. Employees are also relieved and can devote themselves to higher-quality tasks in the operational processes.

Project progress

HAHN Robotics built on previous developments on the part of Continental AG and optimized the automation solution together with the customer. A robot solution for gripping and assembling the flexible cable turned out to be a suitable option in this application area. In the implementation phase, the two-armed robot YuMi from ABB turned out to be the optimal solution in the feasibility tests. This is suitable for the task, because with the help of camera-based part recognition and two flexible gripping hands, it is able to pick up the cable at its beginning and end, to center it and then to plug the cable into the required places. As a final step, YuMi places the cable in the designated place within the brake shoes to secure it during operation.

Advantages for the customer

The existing brake production system was developed by Continental AG and implemented by HAHN Automation. This resulted in synergies between the HAHN Group subsidiaries, HAHN Automation and HAHN Robotics, as existing system knowledge and experience could be used. Together with Continental AG, HAHN Robotics developed the additional robot cell for assembling the sensor cable, while integrating and networking it into the existing system.

The use of the automation solution in the area of ​​the assembly of hydraulic brake systems was implemented directly and, immediately after its commissioning, relieved the workload of the employees and led to the optimization of the workflow. The product quality of the hydraulic brake was improved through the use of the automation solution, as the execution with the robot always delivers constant results and cannot be influenced by the employee.

Outlook

The innovative solution for automated cable assembly enables qualitatively consistent results and speeds up production at Continental AG. In addition, employees who previously had to perform this task manually are relieved from a physically challenging task. The competence of the employees can thus be used for more demanding tasks.

The close proximity of HAHN Robotics, HAHN Automation and Continental AG at the Rheinböllen location allows quick agreements and uncomplicated project coordination. Over the past 25 years, this has resulted in a valued and partnership-based customer relationship between Continental AG and the HAHN Group, which is now based on a deep common project experience. With further automation in the production of hydraulic brake systems, the relationship between the companies will be further expanded. This increases the experience of all those involved with regard to the development and implementation of highly complex automation solutions.