SEAT S.A.’s Martorell factory has incorporated two autonomous mobile robots (AMR) on the factory floor to help automate material handling tasks. The AMRs help improve employee efficiency by transporting parts between stations and enabling employees to focus on assembly operations. SEAT is the first car manufacturer in Spain to deploy the EffiBOT AMRs, produced by French-based Effidence.
Herbert Steiner. SEATs’ Vice-President for Production and Logistics stated that: “Autonomous mobile robots place us at the forefront of innovation in the automotive sector. They’re also a clear example of how robots can collaborate with employees to make their work easier. Their incorporation contributes to driving Industry 4.0 and making us more efficient, flexible, agile and competitive.”
EffiBOT: the intelligent robot
The EffiBOT is a robot developed by French company Effidence. The AMR has 360º obstacle avoidance and features a “follow-me” function in which the robot can lock on to a person and follow them through the factory as they go about their tasks. Among other tasks, the EffiBOT removes the burden of carrying heavy loads from workers, as it can transport all kinds of materials needed for car assembly, whether carrying up to 250 kilos or pulling up to 500 kilos. EffiBOT is in the class of AMRs that function like “mules” to help carry or transport a variety of different loads between any two locations on the factory floor. EffiBot AMRs use dual-Ackerman steering to maneuver around, and as a result, the EffiBOT requires a bit more approach area to a pick or drop location than a differential drive AMR. However, the EffiBOT drive configuration provides a very smooth ride for any cargo onboard the AMR.
[Editors note: there is nothing novel about “follow-me”, it is the most basic of AMR functions and nearly every AMR on the market has this functionality]
SEAT has introduced two EffiBOTs in an experimental phase and could expand the number of these robots in the future. Unlike automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which require a track to function properly, autonomous mobile robots (AMR) such as EffiBOT can recognise their surroundings to map their route to a defined destination and avoid obstacles along the way.
A benchmark for Industry 4.0
In addition to the EffiBOTs, and as an example of the transformation to turn Martorell into a smart factory, the plant currently has around 20 collaborative robots in the assembly areas, such as the “cobots” that are responsible for applying the lettering to the Ibiza and Arona models.
In recent years, SEAT has implemented technological innovations throughout its entire production cycle, such as EffiBOTs, collaborative robots, AGVs in indoor and outdoor areas and drones for logistics transport that, combined with more efficient data management thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain, enable more efficient, flexible and agile processes. Moreover, the company has an innovation team made up of people from different areas for the creation of new Industry 4.0 projects.