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Leoni showcases automated assembly at IAA

By Simon Warburton | 21 August 2017

Leoni is to present its solutions for increased automation and robot support in the manufacture of wiring systems at next month's IAA. 

Leoni started fully automatic production of partial cable harnesses in 2014, using machines to cut lines, attach contact parts and insert them in the housings provided.

Power distributors such as fuse and relay boxes are also produced automatically: since 2015 Leoni has operated fully-automated production of solid power distribution lines (busbars) to replace conventional under-floor battery cables. Flexible battery wires are also produced fully automatically and in series by Leoni.

Leoni is now planning to introduce a fully-automated assembly of smaller cable harnesses by 2020: the production cell is designed to so-called HaD cable harnesses – specifically to meet the demands of autonomous driving.

More rigorous requirements of data cables and cable harnesses:

Autonomous driving cars will accelerate the trend towards more safety and assistance systems, while connectivity between individual vehicles is also growing, as well as between cars and their environment.

Increasing data transmission volume in future vehicles is making higher demands of cable assembly too: data protocols and special cables are very complex to produce manually, so automatic manufacture of data cables will become standard.

Coax and mini-coax connections might account for a large proportion of these, with Leoni already operating fully-automated production facilities and assembling Fakra cables.

Safety requirements of individual products are becoming more rigorous: in addition to low failure rates, automobile manufacturers now expect more process monitoring to document not just crimping performance but also other process parameters such as configuration performance. Based on the current state of technology, this is only possible by using automated production maintains Leoni.

Electromobility as a driving force behind automated production:

Automation is gaining ground in the field of electromobility, with up to now, product development geared more towards smaller volumes, so automatic production was unthinkable.

But component manufacturers are now starting to adopt a new approach in this area: Leoni already develops solutions for component design, function and assembly. The first machine solutions are ready for use.

Putting cobots to the test: man and robot working hand in hand:

Leoni is currently running trials with collaborative robots with their use being tested in the area of cable preparation.

Another aspect of automation is the material transport between processing stations with automated guided vehicles: a robot is responsible for carrying all material including finished goods in a high bay storage facility.

They are subsequently removed in the sequence ordered by the customer, with Shangha being the first plant where it is applied in series production.