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Reeco Supplies Bentley
Founded in 1919, Bentley specialises in the manufacturing of luxury cars and SUV’s and have grown to become a global brand with some of the most sought-after vehicles in the world. Today most Bentley models are assembled at their headquarters in Crewe, England, with a small number being assembled at the Volkswagen Dresden facility in Germany.
Bentley presents a comprehensive range of luxury vehicles with some of its most recent launches being the new Continental GT and Flying Spur. Producing over 10,000 vehicles every year, Bentley has a strong team totalling near 4000 specialists and state of the art technology which allow them to design and manufacture some of the most desirable vehicles.
Looking into the future as the demand for Bentley’s continue to grow there is a need to improve the takt time on their production lines.
Producing cars of luxury, much of Bentley’s processes are completed by hand as a means of ensuring build quality and maintaining the company’s core values. Production levels make it difficult to complete everything by hand however, thus automation in areas where product quality isn’t jeopardised and instead improved, can be used as a means of streamlining operations and keeping up with market demand.
Cobots are the perfect solution to this challenge due to their collaborative nature which means operators work alongside them just like another member of the team, keeping the process control in the hands of the operator.
Bentley contacted Reeco to assist them with a screw fixing process for door components. Previous processes saw operators manually fixing screws into each part variant with manual stations and jigs for each, this process is now completed by a screw fixing cobot, developed and integrated by Reeco.
The new screw fixing cobot consists of a UR5e cobot and a custom-built robot base which acts as a table top for the jigs ready for parts to be processed. This proven method ensures that each fixing is repeated to the correct torque levels within the cycle time required. Operators are now required to load and unload parts on the station and replenish the three OHTAKE screw feeders which present the screws to the cobot.
Quality, safety and productivity were the three main goals of integrating a cobot into this process, these were met by developing a bespoke safety configuration for the application. The configuration ensures a safe working environment due to the proximity of work between operator and cobot. Fitted with floor scanners, the cobot can recognise when an operator enters its surrounding area. The cobot was configured to enter a reduced mode when operators get too close to the cobots current location or continue regular operation if the operator is in a safe position.
This station has allowed operators to attend to other tasks whilst providing additional time for quality checks all the while the cobot is processing the next part, thus boosting productivity and quality assurance whilst preserving operator safety.