Intelligent assistants: New cooperating robot facilitates production of direct shift transmissions at Vrchlabí


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• Facilitating production: Robot making gearbox production easier
• A first for ŠKODA: People and robots deal with production tasks together
• Growth: Capacity at Vrchlabí increases to 2000 gearboxes a day

Modern direct-shift production (DQ 200) at the ŠKODA Vrchlabí plant has received an intelligent assistant: An innovative lightweight robot is now aiding employees in the ‘gear actuator piston insertion’ manufacturing step. This is the first time that ŠKODA production employees will be working alongside robots on high-precision tasks.

​Inserting the gear actuator piston, which is now supported by the new robot, is one of the most delicate processes in transmission manufacturing. Employees in Vrchlabí can now perform this production step more precisely and safely using the KUKA lightweight robot LBR iiwa (Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant). Thanks to its technical dexterity and low weight of only 23.9 kilograms, the LBR is both precise and flexible.

“The new lightweight robot is a useful and helpful innovation in our transmission production at Vrchlabí,” says Michael Oeljeklaus, ŠKODA Board Member for Production. “The robot makes what was once a complicated production step for our employees significantly easier and safer. We are making strides in the digitisation of our production. By using the new lightweight robot, our Vrchlabí site is becoming significantly more interlinked.”

The robot inserts the gear actuator pistons with the highest precision thanks to highly sensitive sensors on each of its seven axes. The sensors register any possible contact with an employee, thus always ensuring maximum safety.

The new lightweight robot has been introduced as part of the ongoing modernization of ŠKODA’s Vrchlabí plant. This is where the manufacturer has been producing the innovative seven-speed direct shift gearbox DQ 200, which is used in ŠKODA vehicles as well as other brands in the Volkswagen Group, since 2012. In partnership with the Volkswagen Group, ŠKODA has invested around 220 million euros into local DSG production to date.

ŠKODA is currently expanding the production capacity at the location. By March 2016, the daily production volume will have increased from 1500 to 2000 DQ 200 transmissions. The carmaker will be investing 25 million euros to achieve this target. In 2014, the production capacity had already increased from 1000 to 1500 DSG transmissions a day.

To date, approximately 910,000 DQ 200 gearboxes have been produced at the site. Around 1000 people are employed in gearbox production at Vrchlabí, making ŠKODA one of the largest and most important employers in the region.