The cab factory of the future
5 SEPTEMBER 2016
The launch of Scania’s new generation of trucks marks the company’s biggest industrial investment of the past two decades. The world’s most modern cab factory is manned by 283 new, high-tech robots plucked straight out of a science fiction film.
Extending and renovating Scania’s cab factory in Oskarshamn, Sweden, is a multi-billion kronor investment aimed at doubling production capacity and increasing quality over the coming years. But the technology used is also taking a major step into the future. Intelligent robots and their operators are part of the team in both the body works line and the new base painting works.
The light grey robots are highly articulated and nimble, but also smart, and can basically learn to execute just about any operation. The overall impression is of a giant, futuristic ballet performance.
“It’s completely clear to me that a premium product needs to be built in a premium plant,” says Marcus Holm, Site Manager within Cab Body Production. So, we have built the most modern factory in the world. We have used all the latest technologies and brought in a high degree of automation with the aim of obtaining a high degree of quality, but also to create the best conceivable working environment and ergonomics for our operators.”
A cornerstone for the new Scania
Johan Uhlin, Site Manager for Cab Assembly and Logistics also believes that the upgraded cab plant is a cornerstone for the new Scania. “If you go around the factory you can see that it’s all world class, from the ergonomics to the level of quality,” he says.
Robots have long been used for so-called 3D-tasks, work that is ‘dirty, dull, and dangerous’. But in line with technological development, they are becoming increasingly advanced and interactive with help from sensors, and can be used within several more advanced areas.
Investing in the most up-to-date robot technology has opened the way for a range of new exciting work tasks for staff within the Oskarshamn plant. Operators work in tight teams, together with their robots.
Improved noise levels
In the assembly workshop, Tom Petersson works together with two robots gluing and fastening windscreens to the cabs. One of Tom’s two robots picks up and moves around the heavy glass windscreens. The other robot fetches a camera, takes photographs, takes readings, and then says exactly how the windscreen should be glued, down to the millimetre.
“I sometimes think of them as smart, agile cats, because they are so flexible and nimble. At the same time, they feel almost human and always do whatever they’re asked to do. Then, I think of them as two brothers. But mostly, I feel a big sense of pride at being able to be a part of this and at working in this futuristic plant”, says Petersson.
When you slam the door on one of Scania’s new truck cabs, the sound is reminiscent of the elegant, bank vault-like sound you get when the close the door on a premium-class passenger car. One explanation for this quality improvement is Thomas Berg’s new colleague on the new door production lines in Oskarshamn. Scania is the first truck manufacturer to automate the application of the cab door linings. The new technique, which is carried out by robots, has also made it possible to further improve noise levels for professional drivers.
“At the same time, the working environment has also been improved for those of us who previously did these heavy jobs manually,” says Berg.
Today, he oversees one of the robots working in door seal application, continually feeding his hungry colleague more lining. “None of the old door lining assemblers can match us working with these robots when it comes to precision,” says Berg. “It’s almost a little scary.”
From sheet metal roll to finished cab
- Scania Oskarshamn produces truck cabs for the whole of Scania’s European production output. The advanced process is divided up into five workshops: the press shop, the bodyworks workshop, the base-painting workshop, the paint shop and the assembly workshop.
- Every day some 160 tonnes of galvanised plate arrives at the press workshop on big, heavy rollers. Here it’s trimmed and pressed into close to 200 different articles.
- A cab consists of about 310 different metal plate items. The parts are welded together into sub-components which, in turn, are placed together to create the body of the cab.
- The body of the cab is painted, after which the interior and exterior is assembled.
- The completed and quality controlled cabs are delivered to Scania’s chassis workshops at Södertälje in Sweden, Zwolle in the Netherlands and Angers in France. There, the trucks undergo final assembly with engines, axles, gearboxes and other parts from Scania’s various component workshops.