Related: Automotive Production
The engines rolling out of the Toyota Motorsports shop in Cologne, Germany, for the Formula One racing team are undoubtedly processed with such care that Lexus engine manufacture looks somewhat slapdash by comparison. Although some people might think that when producing small volumes of engines doing everything by hand is the way to go, the V10 engines built for the F1 team actually have robotic deburring performed on the cylinder heads. Specifically, an ABB IRB 2400 robot (in the U.S.: ABB Flexible Automation; Auburn Hills, MI; www.abb.com). However, programming it was a rather complicated thing to do. That’s because the cylinder head has more than 3,000 points that the robot needs to learn. So, that left Wolfgang Steinfeld, the man responsible for programming, in a bit of a fix. The solution was found in an off-line programming package that ABB developed called “RobotStudio.” Essentially, Steinfeld enters CAD data into the system, records documentation for the individual processing steps, then generates the program in RobotStudio. “With RobotStudio,” he says, “I can reuse a lot of the robot programs and just perform the changes needed for the new task. This saves me time.” And in F1, time is evidently everything.