- Comau has built, modified and deployed 20 advanced production lines to produce Alfa Romeo’s new model Tonale body-in-white
- These lines are designed with a scalable frame that allows random mix production of multiple versions of the SUV (hybrid and conventional engine architectures)
- The system is flexible enough to produce both SUVs and smaller compact vehicles
- The entire solution is based on the company’s long-standing commitment to stable quality and is equipped with 468 Comau Robots, advanced assembly technology, laser welding, plasma cutting and vision systems
- The quality guaranteed by Comau’s craftsmanship and production equipment fully meets the strict requirements of high-end brands like Alfa Romeo
Turin, November 17, 2022 – Comau designed and deployed a flexible body-in-white manufacturing solution for the first new-generation Alfa Romeo SUV model – the Tonale, fully meeting the customer’s stringent production and quality goals and time-to-market plans .
The 20 new high-performance production lines are designed to enable Alfa Romeo to randomly assemble 4 different versions of the mid-sized Tonale while achieving the expected production capacity. Comau’s innovative, fully scalable solution allows the automaker to produce multiple brands on the same production line, while allowing it to further expand production if needed in the future. In addition, Comau not only has the ability to execute the entire project to provide the highest quality workmanship and production equipment, enabling the joint project team to ensure the value of the end product, while fully meeting the stringent requirements of a high-end brand such as Alfa Romeo.
Comau was tasked with building 5 new production lines and revamping 15 existing ones to match the production targets for the new Tonale model, and deployed them as quickly as possible despite the challenges. Alfa Romeo’s existing production line was originally designed to produce compact vehicles, and the SUV chassis to be produced was significantly larger, so Comau was required to make the necessary adjustments to produce both models without sacrificing production of other models. Models with different chassis. In this regard, through simultaneous engineering, the team designed a transformation strategy, which allowed Comau to carry out project transformation work while maintaining the existing production of the factory, according to the concept of “zero loss investment”. Comau also performs retrofits during the plant’s natural downtime, minimizing the impact on production.
As part of Comau’s Lean Manufacturing, the solution uses automated and semi-automated production, based on the proprietary technology ComauFlex, also named butterfly valve device due to its excellent flexibility and the use of suspended robots. This setup allows Alfa Romeo to replace or tune specific models by simply adjusting the Robotic tooling, rather than deploying the robot itself. In addition to scalability that protects the customer’s initial investment, this solution allows the introduction of new vehicle models in the future at a fraction of the cost of the initial investment. In fact, the entire system includes 468 welding robots, of which 148 are brand new and 320 are from existing production lines. Throughout the development process, Comau utilized advanced simulation tools to ensure optimum product quality and yield.
Comau devised a solution that not only allowed Alfa Romeo to perform complex bodywork with extreme precision, but also to assemble the entire body in white from start to finish. Using three different vision systems to help automatically pick and position workpieces, the robot can perform welding, fixing and other operations, including applying semi-structural adhesives to parts and plasma cutting at the end of the line. Each SUV version requires around 2,800 welds to be completed.
With considerable net output, Alfa Romeo can greatly save production time and long-term costs, and improve production efficiency. Additionally, because the solution is a fully modular system built on standard products, with a scalable design framework, automakers can rapidly scale up their production environment at any time with minimal impact on existing production.
Comau CEO Pietro Gorlier explained: “Joining forces with such a well-known brand as Alfa Romeo is a great opportunity to develop cutting-edge technology, and we are proud to Field-proven expertise yields tangible results. Our unwavering commitment to quality is evident in the process of building Tonale and in the product it delivers, and allows us to ensure maximum value for our customers.”
“In supporting Alfa Romeo’s brand product expansion, Comau leverages its long-term experience in automation and smart manufacturing to provide unprecedented flexibility,” added Andrew Lloyd, Director of Engineering at Comau. “We are committed to providing scalable and sustainable solutions to help customers better achieve their current and future goals, and Comau’s innovations implement new technologies and successfully transform existing production lines and equipment. The method is the direct result of our continuous efforts.”