KUKA is a German manufacturer and supplier of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation. The company operates its business worldwide and has achieved sales of around EUR 3.2 billion. In December 2020, the corporation announced its contract win with German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz in body-in-white (BiW) production lines. KUKA won all four packages offered for the essential components of a body shop line.  

“We are proud that KUKA is convincing here with its comprehensive expertise and decades of experience in the automation of the automotive industry,” said Gerald Mies, CEO of KUKA Systems GmbH, in a recent news release

KUKA will handle the engineering, construction, assembly, and commissioning of several BiW production lines for Mercedes-Benz. KUKA facilities plan to undertake future production of different vehicle models. 

 

 

What is Body-in-White Production?

BiW production is a vehicle manufacturing stage where a car body’s non-painted, plain frame is assembled. 

When a car body’s frame or sheet is assembled, this excludes moving parts, trims, or chassis subassemblies. 

KUKA uses joining technologies for BiW, including adhesive bonding, spot welding, laser brazing, laser welding, and other mechanical joining processes. KUKA provides its customers with industry-leading expertise in the construction of the vehicles’ underbody, choice of suitable joining technology, add-on parts, and other special system elements.

 

KUKA System Elements

To define the vehicle’s shape, the roof and walls must be attached as accurately as possible. To ensure accurate dimensions, KUKA utilizes its KS Framer, which can be used for up to six different models. The KS Framer design enables expeditious placing of side panels and roof bows to the vehicle underbody to provide an accurate geometric fit. 

KUKA’s industrial robots demonstrating their capabilities in the automotive sector. Image courtesy of KUKA

 

KUKA’s transport system, the KS PULSE, allows for the transportation of individual vehicle parts from one workstation to another. With this capability, one system can produce four different bodywork designs. 

KUKA also offers its customers hemming technology to add a clean finish to parts such as doors and add-ons. The company’s matrix bodyshop enables the joining process to operate independently of component supply. The system provides an enhanced flexibility level to allow an infinite number of derivatives to be produced. 

 

KUKA Robots Aim to Increase Efficiency in Production

Robots currently employed for BiW were developed and improved to increase operations efficiency and resource uses. An example of this is robot weight reduction, as well as optimized path planning. 

KUKA’s industrial robots demonstrating their capabilities in the automotive sector. Image courtesy of KUKA

 

Robots utilized by KUKA also run on energy-efficient motors enabling their systems to function with optimized resource consumption throughout their service life. This results in reduced electricity use and so lower CO2 emissions. Utilizing KUKA’s resources will provide Mercedes-Benz with valuable expertise and know-how to support its flexible production strategy.