Brose Group and IPG Photonics are collaborating on the development of what they say is the first direct weld measurement technology for automotive seat rails.

In-line coherent imaging (ICI) technology will increase manufacturing efficiency, streamline validation and minimise waste, maintains Brose, which is investing US$6m by 2022 to develop and implement the technology.

After piloting the welding technology in its London, Ontario facility, Brose will integrate weld cells into several manufacturing facilities in the US and Europe, with production to start in early 2020.

“Projects like this with leading technology providers allow Brose to incorporate the most advanced production processes, such as direct weld measurement, and help us continue advancing new breakthroughs in seat structures,” said Brose North America COO, Stefan Krug.

“This differentiator allows us to remain an industry leader while, ultimately, increasing our customer’s confidence and satisfaction with our products.”

ICI is considered a sophisticated welding technology due to its ability to increase manufacturing efficiency through simplified validation. The process, also tracks seams to detect surface irregularities and ensure weld quality.

It replaces an indirect measurement approach which requires a one-hour validation process that pauses production.

“Our patented, in-line welding monitoring tools provide the most comprehensive and direct measurement of key manufacturing characteristics including weld depth, part fit-up and seam position,” added IPG Photonics SVP Sales & Marketing, Trevor Ness.

“IPG is proud to put our laser depth monitoring technology to work with Brose to support producing the highest quality seat rails available to consumers.”

As part of the project, Brose and IPG Photonics will study and analyse ICI-generated performance data including penetration measurements, surface irregularities, seam tracking and the technical availability of the equipment.