European automaker SEAT, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, has introduced two autonomous, collaborative mobile robots that adapt to the needs of employees to help them with tasks such as transporting parts.
The AMRs – called EffiBOTs, originally made by Effidence – have been integrated into the operations at the automaker’s Martorell plant in Spain.
SEAT says the incorporation of the AMRs at the Martorell factory continues the development and implementation of digital tools and solutions to make the facility a smarter, more digitalised and increasingly connected factory.
With this move, SEAT says it has become the first car manufacturer in Spain to use these robots, which aim to adapt to production processes and manage resources and communication between the different areas of the company more efficiently.
Herbert Steiner, SEAT’s vice-president for production and logistics, says: “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.”
The EffiBOT is a robot developed by French company Effidence, with which SEAT has collaborated to adapt its operation to the processes at the Martorell plant.
Processing constant 360º readings, it is capable of following the person who tapped its touchscreen as they move around the factory, without the need for them to have any device on them even if they come across any person or object in their way.
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.
The company 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, the company 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.