As a rule, “less is more” in industrial applications. Fewer system components typically result in a simpler design, better performance and easier maintenance.
When KUKA Systems North America, part of Germany-based KUKA AG, built the KS PULSE system in 2015, reducing complexity and improving performance in automotive body assembly was the goal. KS PULSE is a transport system for body-in-white assembly lines based on QuickStick® HT independent cart technology from MagneMotion®, a Rockwell Automation company.
Comprised of a linear motor and separate drive, QuickStick HT uses integrated position sensing to enable independent control of separate carriers on a track. Accelerations, decelerations, velocities and positions are programmable. Instead of moving at a fixed speed, vehicle body sections can quickly advance through robotic workstations as process steps are completed.
Building on Revolutionary Success
Compared to conventional roller-bed and trolley systems, first generation KS PULSE systems reduced the number of unique components from 200 to 14. Performance gains were equally impressive.
“The QuickStick HT is twice as fast, uses less power, has greater MTBF and lower MTTR – and is much more flexible than friction-based conveyance systems,” said Kevin Laurence, director, advanced technology group, KUKA Systems.
But while the KS PULSE system simplified operation and maintenance, configuration and integration were complex. Installing the initial offering was a job only KUKA Systems could do.
“We delivered the KS PULSE transfer system as part of a fully integrated, turnkey body shop or assembly line,” Laurence explained. “With our latest release, we have incorporated a user-friendly interface – and reduced variability and complexity – to ease installation of the transport system by third-party system integrators.”