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VDL Steelweld: Digital Manufacturing
VDL Steelweld uses digital manufacturing tools to develop robotized production automation systems
VDL Steelweld is one of the leading producers of automotive industry production lines used to produce body parts for cars and trucks. Quality and production efficiency are crucial in this sector and can only be achieved through evaluation of alternative production processes and optimization.
Companies that supply production automation systems usually supply a production line for vehicle body parts referred to in the industry as the ‘body in white’. A complete production facility is generally built for several suppliers. Ernest Donders, Project Manager at VDL, explains: “On the basis of a tender a party is appointed to lead the simultaneous engineering process. This party develops the production process in tandem with the product in close collaboration with the client. The resulting production process then forms the basis for tenders for the development of a corresponding production line, which can be submitted any company that supplies production automation systems.” In the automotive industry this simultaneous engineering process inevitably means that the supplier stipulates which applications have to be used. In most cases this is Tecnomatix software. “We have been using Tecnomatix for years,” explains Donders. “We are currently using the latest versions of Tecnomatix Process Designer and Process Simulate robot simulation software.”
During the simultaneous engineering process the production line is modeled with Tecnomatix Process Designer. This begins with an outline model to roughly determine the order in which parts are processed, define the layout of the line and allocate available task times. “All of the production resources are stored in the Process Designer database,” explains Donders. “These resources range from screening to the fastening materials used to assemble the body parts. Production resources that do not already exist are made and stored in the Process Designer database.”