Reel-fed robot applies patches, replacing 3,600 plugs per shift inserted by hand

Reel-fed robot applies patches, replacing 3,600 plugs per shift inserted by hand

Porsche has found a new way to plug car body holes after painting.

Until now, the holes, which provide access for corrosion prevention coating spray nozzles or paint flow in a dip tank, were sealed after painting with plastic plugs. Instead, a robot places around 100 sealing patches automatically.

The process uses circular patches from supplier Tesa and the automaker claims the process eliminates considerable strain on Taycan EV line workers who previously had to insert, by hand, up to 3,600 plugs per shift. This also involved overhead work.

One patch size is used to cover all four types of hole types plus, with a thickness of just 1mm, the patches barely protrude at all, whereas the plugs extend up to 6mm from the body. A special robot was developed for the monotonous task.

By July 2020 around 100 of the 150 plugs required in the Taycan paint shop in Zuffenhausen had been eliminated and the paint shop at Leipzig will be next, by summer 2021.

Tesa is well known in Germany for office and packaging tape.

Dirk Paffe, Porsche's planning chief for paint shop processes, said: "Once the special sealing patches have been applied, they can only be detached again with a great deal of effort. They provide [durability] that can also withstand the stresses of a vehicle in motion and [outlive] the vehicle."