Mechatronic specialist Brose has collaborated with US-based IPG Photonics, a leader in fiber lasers, to develop the first direct weld measurement technology for automotive seat rails.
The partners says the In-line coherent imaging (ICI) technology will increase manufacturing efficiency, streamline validation and minimise waste. After piloting the welding technology in its London, Ontario facility, Brose will integrate weld cells into several manufacturing facilities in the US and Europe, with production set to begin early 2020.
Stefan Krug, COO, Brose North America, said: “Projects like this with leading technology providers allow Brose to incorporate the most advanced production processes, such as direct weld measurement, and help us continue advancing new breakthroughs in seat structures. This differentiator allows us to remain an industry leader while, ultimately, increasing our customer’s confidence and satisfaction with our products.”
The company says ICI is considered a sophisticated welding technology due to its ability to increase manufacturing efficiency through simplified validation. The process, also tracks seams to detect surface irregularities and ensure weld quality. It replaces an indirect measurement approach that requires a one-hour validation process that pauses production.
Trevor Ness, IPG Photonics SVP WW Sales & Marketing, said: “Our patented, in-line welding monitoring tools provide the most comprehensive and direct measurement of key manufacturing characteristics including weld depth, part fit-up and seam position. IPG is proud to put our laser depth monitoring technology to work with Brose to support producing the highest quality seat rails available to consumers.”
Brose plans to invest more than $6 million (Rs 42 crore) by 2022 to develop the technology. As part of this project, Brose and IPG Photonics will study and analyse ICI generated performance data including penetration measurements, surface irregularities, seam tracking and the technical availability of the equipment. This joint project will help enhance further manufacturing efficiencies, consumer safety and performance enhancements to improve the overall quality of products reaching consumers in the marketplace.