First Robot Collaborates Directly with Employees at Volkswagen Plant

  First Robot Collaborates Directly with Employees at Volkswagen Plant

Business Wire

ODENSE, Denmark & SALZGITTER, Germany -- August 29, 2013

The car manufacturing group Volkswagen has integrated an industrial robotic
arm from the Danish manufacturer Universal Robots into mass production at its
engine production plant in Salzgitter, Germany.The lightweight robot UR5is
installed in the cylinder head assembly section, where it is responsible for
handling delicate glow plugs. This is the first collaborative robot in use at
Volkswagen worldwide.Due to its integrated safety mode, the six-axis robotic
arm is able to collaborate directly with people without any guards,
contributing significantly towards optimizing ergonomic working processes.

The Volkswagenplant in Salzgitter, with an area of 2,800,000 square metres,
is one of the largest engine production plants in the world.Some 6,000
employees manufacture approximately 7,000 gas and diesel engines in over 370
variants there every day.The 3- to 16-cylinder engines are installed in the
various models and brands of the Volkswagen group.The car manufacturer
recently deployed a collaborative industrial robotic arm from the Danish
manufacturer, Universal Robots, with people in the cylinder head assembly
section of the plant for the purpose of inserting glow plugs into the cylinder

By reason of its integrated safety mode (matching Standard EN ISO 10218), the
industrial robot is able to work in the close vicinity of humans. It is
equipped with a collaborative gripper, which the system integrator Faude
Automatisierungstechnik has developed exclusively for Volkswagen and which
meets the safety requirements of ISO/TS15066, the specification standard for
collaborating robots.Thus the robot was able to be integrated into the
production line without additional protective housing.

“We would like to prevent long-term burdens on our employees in all areas of
our company with an ergonomic workplace layout. By using robots without
guards, they can work together hand in hand with the robot.In this way, the
robot becomes a production assistant in manufacture and as such can release
staff from ergonomically unfavorable work,” explains Jürgen Häfner, project
manager at Volkswagen’s Salzgitter plant.

The project was implemented over a period of two years in close collaboration
with Universal Robots’ distributor partner Faude Automatisierungstechnik.
Together, the two employees in production, which were previously responsible
for fitting the glow plugs onto the cylinder heads, should be relieved of a
burden.Until now, they had to insert the glow plugsin a stooping posture
into the scarcely visible cylinder head drill holes.

Hand in hand with a robot colleague

This step is now being taken over by the six-axis UR5 lightweight robot from
Universal Robots.It carefully picks up the delicate glow plugs, which are
provided by a specially designed separation system, and puts them into the
hard-to-reach drill holes. An employee is then responsible for fixing the glow
plugs and for insulating the cylinder head, which is required for the next
step in production.Thanks to the direct joint working with the robot, which
acts as an assistant, he can carry out these activities in an upright, healthy
posture.In doing so, he is able to keep a constant watch over the process, so
as to be able to intervene quickly when necessary.

“We are delighted with the successful implementation of this unprecedented
project and with the fact that our robots can contribute towards ergonomic
work processes,” says Thomas Visti, Vice President and Chief Commercial
Officer at Universal Robots.

“This was able to be accomplished mainly due to the result-oriented and
constructive collaboration between Volkswagen and our partner Faude


Universal Robots is a Danish manufacturer of industrial robots.The company
was founded in 2005 with the aim of making robotics accessible to all.The
result is a lighter, more flexible and more environmentally-friendly robotic
arm which has revolutionized the market for industrial robots.This was
hitherto dominated by large, heavy and expensive robots.Universal Robots
develops and sells robotic arms which easily automate monotonous and laborious
processes in the industry and make them more effective.As a result, the
production shop can use employees where they really create value.Universal
Robots has approximately 100 employees.Entire development and production take
place at the Odense site in Denmark.

Further information about Universal Robots is available

Press Photos:

Photo Design: Thomas Gasparini.


Company contact:
Universal Robots USA, Inc.
Ed Mullen, +1-631-610-9664
Press contact:
Hughes Communications
Mette McCall, +1-415-847-8649
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