From its roots in 1907, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has been the premier event kicking-off the calendar year by showcasing the latest innovations in style and technology from the automotive industry. Shrouded by secrecy, the excitement was unwrapped a week ago starting with the press event days during preview week.
From the car and truck of the year awards to the latest in green power vehicles, the show delivers on all cylinders (or cells for those who prefer electrics) opening with over 5,000 journalists attending from 60 countries. Certainly one of the most unique displays on the show floor came from Ford where, along with their latest vehicles, they showcased a section of an automated body assembly system built by manufacturing systems integrator Comau in cooperation with two Siemens AG business units; Siemens Automation Systems and Siemens PLM Software.
Complete with safety fencing, robots, controllers and drives, the body assembly line segment is a two-story dance of automated systems which lowers an F-150 body or undercarriage into a robot assembly bay via a lift. Ford planned the display at the NAIAS to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Henry Ford’s creation of the assembly line itself. The display, an actual part of the body assembly line which will build the 2015 F-150 truck, was impressive and drew a large crowd as the preview week got underway. In parallel, Comau and Siemens hosted a hospitality suite to showcase how manufacturing technology from systems and hardware integrators to digital manufacturing vendors can deliver a competitive edge through the integration of virtual technologies to simulate and validate systems well before they are delivered to the shop floor. Even if you’re unable to get to the NAIAS show over the next week, you can learn more from an interview by WXYZ TV during the press event here.
Comau displayed robotics, body welding and powertrain systems, a subset of their systems integration capabilities, in the hospitality suite along with Siemens Automation Systems showcasing controls and drive systems. The Siemens PLM Software solutions on display from Tecnomatix were our virtual commissioning solution which integrates a virtual product and equipment simulation model with actual controls, HMI and safety hardware to simulate and validate PLC and safety interlock software and device behavior; and our Jack human simulation solution showcasing a Microsoft Kinect device which delivers an inexpensive way to capture human movement to drive the model for ergonomics analysis. Here’s Christina Cort of the Jack R&D organization, discussing the use of Jack with the Kinect device at the show:
While the NAIAS event is a premier event for press, industry and the public to see the latest innovations in product style and technology, with Ford’s display of the body assembly system, Comau and Siemens thought it was a great setting to display some of the technology behind the products by demonstrating the latest manufacturing innovations for the automotive industry.