One of the major financial burdens for new car introduction is the tooling cost. If the industry is to move towards a more diverse product range and therefore reduced volumes per model it is essential that the breakeven volume be reduced. Tooling cost can have a major influence on this in two ways. Firstly by reduction in cost and secondly by being modular and reusable.
The tooling developed in this workpackage and demonstrated for production of a vehicle rear quarter addresses both of these issues. The principal of the tooling is that all of the control system is kept as a separate module, which controls the clamps via sheathed cable. This simplifies the design of the model specific components and allows cheaper assembly systems to be used as the cylinders etc. are not in positions vulnerable to either mechanical damage or weld spatter.
The general approach of a cellular facility led this tooling to be pallet based so that tooling can be sent through a production facility and a subassembly produced upon it. This gave a requirement for the tooling to be quickly and automatically connected in each cell. While systems exist to allow this they are both expensive and unreliable. A new system has been developed, which for the first time allows a tool of almost unlimited size and complexity to be controlled over five electrical pins and one pneumatic line. This utilises the DeviceNet fieldbus system and allows full control of the tool within two seconds of the connection being made.