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Comau creates high-volume electric drive assembly line for Geely to ‘double its automation rate’

Comau has developed and implemented an automated electric vehicle drive assembly line for Geely Automobile, one of China’s largest automakers, at the Geely Veremt plant in Ningbo, China.

The assembly line is specifically created for the end-to-end assembly of the electric motor, gearbox and inverter.

Designed in close collaboration with the Geely team, the complete line uses a flexible automatic production system to assemble the permanent magnet motor rotors, gearboxes and electronics drives, in addition to automated quality control and testing.

The innovative solution increases the plant’s automation rate from 40 percent to 80 percent while delivering a full-scale production capacity of 120,000 jobs per year.

Due to the complexity of the project, the joint technical team worked in close synergy during the entire process.

Comau, which is now part of Stellantis, also leveraged its 45+ years of experience in powertrain assembly when combining best-practice technology and process innovations to achieve Geely’s high-volume production targets.

Using multiple robots to install the motor rotors, the automated line also features 3D vision positioning and guidance, automatic high-speed magnet installation, automatic injection of rotor cores and the automatic dual-position dynamic balance correction, magnetization and more.

The electric drive line, on the other hand, includes advanced three-in-one assembly such as motor stator casing, thermal sleeve, motor static testing, motor dynamic testing, automatic bearing feeding and pressing, automatic bolt feeding and tightening, and the automatic measurement and selection of gaskets.

Since its initiation, Comau has dedicated significant design resources to the project, including 20 engineers who completed the design phase in just four months.

The project execution team also overcame additional challenges due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and product optimization changes, delivering the line in just over 12 months.

Comau says the “quick and targeted response” to post-delivery modification requests enabled the mass production to officially launch in late 2021.

Sun Yongjing, vice president of Geely Veremt, says: “We have developed solutions that make our manufacturing process more agile and efficient as a concrete result of our collaboration with Comau.

“Furthermore, the automated lines help ensure that our new products will continue to have the same high level of quality and excellence that make the Zeekr (part of Geely Group) successful brand around the world.”

According to IHS Markit, electric vehicles are expected to comprise 60-80 percent of all new car sales in 2050.

The prediction has prompted automakers to look for ways to automate the assembly of e-axle drives, which combine electric motors, transmissions and power electronics in a single unit.

This has created opportunities for industrial automation companies such as Comau, which is at the forefront of this trend.

Wang Junwu, Comau China head of technology, says: “We are pleased to expand our long-term relationship with Geely and support them on their way to e-mobility through our technical know-how and methodology in e-motor systems.

“Delivering this innovative assembly line is a direct result of Comau’s longstanding experience in automation, smart manufacturing and digitalization, in addition to our pioneering electrification expertise.”

The successful delivery of this project has provided a strong production guarantee for the manufacturing of Geely’s pure-electric vehicles.

It has also enriched Comau’s design and manufacturing experience with electric drive automatic production lines, which will be leveraged in the implementation of subsequent projects.

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