Audi has deployed innovative new robots at its main plant in Ingolstadt, Germany that work hand-in-hand with employees there to make work easier and make ergonomic improvements at the plant. The robots are free of safety barriers, enabling employees to directly interact with the machine as they assemble the Audi A4, A5 and Q5 models.
Before the new robots were introduced, assembly line workers at Ingolstadt were forced to bend over to get parts from material boxes, which may seem like a simple task, but it can easily lead to back problems if done repetitively. The robots, known as ‘PART4you’, will now complete that task, picking up parts with a suction cup and handing them to the employees at the right time.
Audi believes PART4you will be one of many production processes which will involve humans and robots working together.
“The factory of the future will feature increasing interaction between man and machine. That allows us to automate routine operations and to optimize ergonomically unfavorable workplaces,” said Dr. Hubert Waltl, Board of Management Member for Production at Audi. “People will continue to make the decisions on production processes. And our employees will continue to be essential for future-oriented, successful production.”
The barrier free robots pose no safety risk to employees. Audi says special safety sensors prevent the robots from coming to close to employees or accidentally hitting them, and a special soft coating on the robots provides further protection. Because of this, the robots fulfill the necessary safety precautions for cooperating robots, giving them the required certificate from the employers’ liability insurance association.
More robot-to-human machines will be installed at Audi’s international facilities in the near future.