FARO Provides Crucial Ancillary Support to FAW-Volkswagen

FARO Provides Crucial Ancillary Support to FAW-Volkswagen

Founded in 1991, FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co., Ltd (FAW-VW) is a Chinese joint venture between FAW Group Corporation and the Volkswagen Group. The company is headquartered in Changchun, Jilin, and it has a registered capital of RMB 7.81billion (US$1.22 billion). As China’s first modern passenger sedan industrial base of considerable economic scale, FAW-VW produced more than one million vehicles in 2011 alone, with annual sales adding up to more than RMB 170 billion (US$ 26.9 billion).

FAW-VW’s sound foundations and strategies enabled the company to grow continuously. Its strong corporate culture and commitment to technological leadership are some of its key success factors. In addition, FAW-VW considers the pursuit of quality extremely important, as is evident in the safety and environmental-friendliness of FAW-VW sedans.

Maintenance of Assembly Line
Checking the Anchor Points on the Conveyor Trolley Over in its Chengdu plant, FAW-VW specializes in the production and assembly of the Jetta and Sagitar car models. A large component of the assembly line is the conveyor system on which all the vehicles are transported. Any failure in this system would effectively cripple all other departments within the facility. In order to ensure that each plant operates at its optimum, the company put in place a number of processes to minimize downtime on its shop floor.

Similar to a majority of automotive manufacturers, FAW-VW utilizes an overhead conveyor to move vehicles around the plant. The way that FAW-VW chose to avoid system failure was to specially dedicate space and staff to conduct regular maintenance on the shop floor. “It is our department’s responsibility to make sure that the all our equipment functions properly, so that production is carried out smoothly,” said Mr. Song Jiashan, Head of Assembly Shop Maintenance. “This includes making sure that different automation systems interface well with one another, enabling us to uphold our quality promise to customers.”

Mr. Song’s department plays a pivotal role in supporting plant operations. Regular inspection and alignment checks on the equipment are necessary to ensure optimal performance. Common areas of interest requiring inspection include anchor points on the cradle support structure, corresponding anchor points on the conveyor trolley, and relative distances between work piece and center axis. These measurements vary in nature, and range anywhere between 2 to 4m in length.

 

Traditionally, the technicians rely on hand tools such as tape measures, gauges, micrometers and spirit levels to get the job done. However, these traditional methods were not ideal in more ways than one. “To begin with, accuracy levels achieved are lower with hand tools,” shared Mr. Zhou Tingzhi, an engineer from the Assembly Shop Maintenance department. “At times, complex measurements would require several procedures, and these would accumulate large error margins. It would also take us a long time to perform the measurements and calculations manually.”

Enhancing Capabilities
FAW-VW’s measurement needs prompted the search for a better alternative to replace existing methods. In 2011, the company came into contact with FARO and found that the FaroArm® Platinum was a suitable solution for its metrology needs. The FaroArm is a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) that performs highly accurate measurements. Taking the form of an articulating arm, the device has multiple rotating axes, which allows maximum versatility. Data acquired by the device is then fed directly to a computer, where it can be further manipulated.

FAW-VW deploys a 12-ft FaroArm on the maintenance platform, located right next to the assembly line. Whenever a glitch occurs on the production line, the team would use the device to pinpoint the precise problem area before zooming into it. “On average, problems occur only three to five times a month,” stated Mr. Song. “While we don’t need it every day, its presence on the shop floor has made all the difference to our work, and the quality of our products.”

Since acquiring the portable CMM from FARO, FAW-VW’s inspection and alignment checks on its manufacturing systems have become much more precise and simple. This, in turn, has kept the plant operating at its best. The arm’s versatility and accuracy meant that the FAW-VW team could confidently rely on the device to meet its variety of measurement needs. Mr. Zhou revealed, “Now, equipment alignment and inspection of check fixtures can all be done with just one tool. With the FaroArm, we can now accomplish our measurement task which is having volumetric size of 4m and below, at an accuracy of up to 0.02mm. We have eliminated the possibility of human error, and greatly increased the precision levels by switching to FARO.”

Aside from precision levels, FARO also addressed FAW-VW’s concern for efficiency while performing measurements. Mr. Song stated, “Complex measurements that required several tools and procedures in the past can now be completed quickly and simply! Instead of having to make calculations manually, the software does that automatically and gives us the final figures. Being able to pre-program the measurements also saves us a lot of time.”

Categories: Case Study, Uncategorized

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