Thursday, August 27, 2009

While the automobile is a commonly used product, it is an extremely complex and technologically sophisticated one. Manufacturing new cars requires state-of-the-art technological methods and processes. In addition, supplier industries of the automotive manufacturing industry, such as steel and other parts as well as electronic instrumentation, are vital in providing the necessary supplies and components for assembling motor vehicles.

Automobile ManufacturingTo improve product quality and efficiency in production, automakers invest a large amount of time and money into developing and improving the manufacturing process, and rely heavily on research and technological innovation. Over the last 75 years, significant technological development has taken place, changing and reinventing how motor vehicles are produced.

Technology has increasingly altered the manufacturing process for motor vehicles. While cars are produced at faster rates, automakers must continue to balance increased productivity and efficiency with quality and innovation. Modern technologies used in advancing manufacturing for the automotive industry include:
  • Programmable machines and tools;
  • Near-Net Castry;
  • High speed data communication and data management;
  • Supercomputing;
  • Virtual manufacturing and complex visualization techniques;
  • Advanced forging techniques.
Over the last 25 years, automation technology has become an essential part of automobile assembly plants. A typical assembly plant uses several hundred robots to build and paint the vehicle frame. 2 While robotic technology continues to grow in assembly plants, the technology does have limitations, especially in performing more delicate tasks. The advent of Intelligent Assist Devices, in particular Cobots (Collaboratiave robots), aided in reducing ergonomic concerns, while also improving safety, quality and productivity. Cobots, developed by Northwestern University and General Motors Corporation, are designed to work in collaboration with human operators to move objects and perform physically demanding tasks on vehicle assembly lines.