The new Fiat 500 marks an important step for FCA as it will be the brand’s first fully electric vehicle. To create the car, FCA has had to design and deploy new manufacturing lines dedicated to its production, including advanced automation and the introduction of 187 robot helpers.
Provided by Comau, the first of the robots was installed in July 2019, which initiated the production line of the new full-electric model inside FCA’s historic Mirafiori plant. A total of 187 Comau robots were then integrated in the different phases of the car manufacturing process, thanks to the collaboration of a team of Comau experts who worked side-by-side the automaker’s designers to optimize the work lines in an excellent example of Smart Manufacturing. The team also needed to adapt the systems to a new body design of an iconic car while responding to the technical characteristics of a full-electric vehicle.
In particular, Comau has developed and equipped the body assembly lines dedicated to processing the structural parts of the New 500, including the front and rear floors, the bodysides and the framing, which are assembled and welded to give shape to the complete body of the car.
Each robot has been fully equipped by Comau to efficiently carry out all the special processes an electric car requires – from custom-designed handling systems and grippers to a special 3D printed end-effector for moving body components.
Comau has also integrated the lines with advanced vision systems to control the quality of the adhesive dispensing system, both during processing and at the end of the cycle. In order to optimize and speed-up inline tool changes, an articulated magazine system was designed to provide the robots with the different types of tools required to perform each application in a fast and easy way.
In addition, Comau has intervened in the design of the robotized line for the final assembly. After the bodyshop, which is used to form the body of the New 500, and the painting and surface treatment phases, all the internal parts are assembled and the single components of the car are optimized.
Andrew Lloyd, chief operating officer – electrification of Comau emphasized: “Our experience and global leadership in the industrial sector, together with the skills gained in the field of electrification and digitalization, support the creation of highly innovative, flexible and tailor-made technological solutions. This approach allows Comau to develop projects that look to the future of mobility and renewable energy sources, such as the New 500 full-electric, thus responding to the needs of an industrial system in continuous evolution and the demands of an end consumer increasingly attentive to sustainability.”