Quality Is Everything

Volkswagen performs in-line inspections with the ZEISS AIMax

The Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles factory in Września, Poland, went into operation in 2016 and is the most cutting-edge production facility in the entire VW family.  Werner Steinert, the Quality Manager, was tasked with acquiring measuring technology as impressive as the production facility itself. He opted to fully leverage the potential of optical measuring technology.

The challenge: 100% inspection for a wide variety of models

Once production in Poland is going full throttle in 2018, 100,000 Crafter and MAN TGE vans will roll off the assembly line every year. For Steinert, the Crafter van has been a market success because of both the quality of the vehicle and the large number of models available. With almost 60 base versions to choose from, the vehicles are suitable for a wide array of different uses – from serving as an ambulance to a delivery van.  In spite of the variety of models available, for a Crafter to roll off the production line every 3.5 minutes requires that the in-line measuring technology measure each car body part in sync with the production cycle. For this reason, Steinert, who has been working at VW for 25 years, wanted "the best robot-based 3D in-line measuring technology on the market."

The solution: ZEISS AIMax

Performing 100% inspection in Poland. This means that every car body part – from the undercarriage to the side panels – passes through the corresponding in-line measuring station. The undercarriages for the different models vary the most, and for this part alone dozens of characteristics are inspected to ensure that the stipulated tolerance specifications have been met. Thanks to the compact design of the ZEISS AIMax sensor (height: 155 mm, width: 134 mm, length: 125 mm), even those
characteristics in narrow or difficult-to-reach areas can be inspected. The combination of three measuring principles in a single sensor – multi-line triangulation, gray-scale image processing and shadow analysis – is another plus for car body manufacture. "Pressure bolts, and we have a lot of those, can only be measured in-line with the ZEISS AIMax," says Steinert.

The Benefit: Optimization of production processes

The typical measuring time, including robot movement, does not exceed three seconds per measuring position. "This speed allows us to inspect a lot of characteristics within the prescribed cycle time, which has helped us enormously with optimizing our processes," says Steinert. Employees check how the values have changed on a daily basis. A major asset for identifying the cause of measuring errors is that the camera on the ZEISS sensor always takes a photo of the particular characteristic. This enables employees to see if glue in the boreholes has led to the identified tolerance deviation and allows them to optimize the application of glue. After the first weeks of production, one thing is clear to Steinert: "The in-line approach has paid off."  All five stations are working perfectly.