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Robots with optical sensors for Quality 4.0

13.6.2018
Robots with optical sensors for Quality 4.0

Audi is a premium brand in every way: not just for its products and services, but also for how it is optimising its internal processes thanks to digitization. As happens in the quality control department.

Quality is a core competence of Audi, as the 2,800 employees of the brand’s Quality Assurance demonstrate each and every day. Virtual and digital methods are facilitating the transition from pure component analysis to a holistic system view. As Audi evolves into a premium digital car company – the greatest transformation in the history of the company – the processes and methods employed at Quality Assurance are also undergoing a digital transformation. The distinction between physical components and digital data records is becoming increasingly blurred, both in terms of the interior master jig and the exterior master jig.

The evolution of working methods

Where previously just a manual surface check allowed the desired premium quality to be verified, today photometric cell robots with extremely precise optical sensors can carry out the required steps. The resulting data records can then be compared with other components at the simple press of a button. Advancing digitization offer totally new possibilities in terms of measurement technologies, and in recent years has brought the task of checking quality standards into a new dimension. Optical measurement cells form the technological basis for many of the new processes, as they allow automated and objective analysis of the surface quality of sheet metal and trim elements.

Precision optical measurement

The latest addition to the equipment for the master jigs, a photometric measurement cell the size of a double garage, represents an important step in the direction of the virtual master jig. Two robots with eight-axis kinematics and high-resolution optical sensors (16 megapixels) simultaneously capture the geometry and the surfaces of the bodywork. The length of time required to fully digitize an entire body thus decreases from 48 hours to a mere four. An advantage of optical versus tactile measurement techniques is that, among other things, they can be done without touching the material. This allows even soft materials such as seals and seats to be precisely measured. What’s more, it doesn’t just measure individual points, rather it precisely measures the entire surface area. Data obtained via the photometric measurement cell serves as an important basis for the subsequent stages of work.

Virtual joining

In quality control, the combining of all available CAD data takes place in the master jig at a very early stage of the product creation phase. This allows CAD data of the first individual components to be compared and measured while they are only virtual. Two identical pieces can also be compared using “virtual joining” to improve their quality, where necessary. The fuel filler flap of the Audi RS 4 Avant is the perfect example. In an early development phase, when the component exists only as a CAD data record, it is merged virtually with the digital measurement data of the physically available tank flap in order to determine the best solution.

SourceEncounter - AUDI AG

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