Brose and IPG to develop in-line weld measurement technology for manufacturing automotive seat rails

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Automotive supplier Brose has announced a collaborative project with fibre laser manufacturer IPG Photonics, in which the two firms will develop what they say will be the first direct weld measurement technology for the manufacture of automotive seat rails.

The technology, known as In-line coherent imaging (ICI), is able to track welding seams to detect surface irregularities and ensure weld quality. It will replace a current indirect measurement approach involving a one-hour validation process that halts production, enabling Brose to increase its manufacturing efficiency and minimise waste.

                                                                                                      The firm plans to invest more than $6 million in developing and implementing the technology by 2022.

As part of the joint project, Brose and IPG Photonics will study and analyse ICI-generated performance data including penetration measurements, surface irregularities, seam tracking and the technical availability of the equipment. The project will help further inform manufacturing efficiencies, while also increasing the performance and consumer safety of Brose products.

‘Projects like this with leading technology providers allow Brose to incorporate the most advanced production processes, such as direct weld measurement, and help us continue advancing new breakthroughs in seat structures,’ commented Stefan Krug, COO, Brose North America.

‘Our patented, in-line welding monitoring tools provide the most comprehensive and direct measurement of key manufacturing characteristics including weld depth, part fit-up and seam position,’ said Trevor Ness, IPG Photonics’ senior vice president for worldwide sales and marketing. ‘IPG is proud to put our laser depth monitoring technology to work with Brose to support producing the highest quality seat rails available to consumers.’

Brose initially plans to pilot the welding technology in its facility in London, Canada, after which it intends to integrate weld cells into several of its manufacturing facilities in the US and Europe, with production set to begin early 2020.

In 2018 Brose produced more than 80 million seat rails globally and expects to manufacture more than 105 million annually by 2024.

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14 December 2021