Manufacturing magic

As many exasperated parents so often like to remind their children, money does not grow on trees, and for that matter, neither do cars. Although parents rarely bother to mention the latter, car enthusiasts at any age can find it hard to believe that the gleaming model of perfection in the car lot was once a collection of raw parts which had to be shaped, bolted and welded into form.

En route from automotive dream to reality, Habasit belts play a significant role in each new creation. After thousands of components have been gathered from a wide variety of internal and external suppliers, a car manufacturing plant must be able to ensure seamless transport for the efficient and simultaneous assembly of multiple automobiles at once.

Inception and beyond

The timespan from the inception of a new model, as simply a drawing in a sketchpad, all the way to its final assembly, can be anywhere from three to five years. This requires incredible foresight in an ever-changing industry. Car designers must be able to predict, at least five years in advance, what new trends will shape a buyer’s vision of ultimate automotive beauty.

Before a model is accepted for production, it must evolve through a series of different mediums. Basic concept drawings are first recreated through specialized computer-design equipment. These are then copied into clay models which are reviewed by market analysts and aerodynamic engineers who evaluate, among other things, the air flow parameters of the prototype. After extensive examination and review, the model is approved and engineers can at last begin constructing the tools required to manufacture the various parts of the exclusive design.

In the metal stamping area of a manufacturing plant, virgin steel and other raw materials are made into sheets which form the body panels of the car. As the internal frame, also known as the chassis, moves down the assembly line on a hangar, each piece of the shell is carefully attached. Robots, valuable for their incomparable precision and strength, can often be used for the more dangerous aspects of assembly such as heavy lifting and high fusing temperatures. Delegating certain work to robots can also spare employees from the smoke, toxic gases and welding flames which are produced during the manufacturing process.

Nevertheless, there is yet to be a robot which can replace the skill and intelligence of on-site employees. In many modern-day manufacturing plants, production personnel work while standing on a conveyor belt which moves at the same speed as the hangar. Not only does this system improve overall assembling quality and productivity, but these specially designed people movers also increase safety in the workspace. They are particularly effective in reducing back and neck injuries.

For this essential application, Habasit provides a belt with a safe non-slip surface so that employees can work with both speed and confidence on belts which can reach up to 150 meters long and four meters in width. The belt properties have been designed to avoid Electro Static buildup while running. Discharge occurs safely through the belt, avoiding potential damage to sensitive electronic components in the vehicles or discomfort for workers. Excellent antistatic, high impact and abrasion/wear resistant properties are also available for several different applications. Including car movers, where the vehicles, post wheel attachment, undergo their final assembly processes while workers move with the vehicle on the same belt.

Although a car can be assembled in just four hours, it must then undergo a series of tests to ensure satisfactory standards of safety and performance, not to mention a spotless shine. Even before a car is painted, it is transported through a bright room where the exterior is wiped down with hi-light oil. In this way, any defects in the sheet metal can be easily recognized and repaired. This is just one of many examinations the vehicle will undergo before being brought into the light of day.

Equipped for success at every stage

As one of the top suppliers in the industry, Habasit is well equipped for each stage of automotive assembly from metal stamping operations to the body and paint shop, complete vehicle assembly with people movers and car movers, and water test and final inspection lines. And not only assembly operations, but the production of automotive components, for example tires or batteries, are also addressed with conveyors equipped with Habasit belting. Habasit has the solution with its comprehensive line of fabric, plastic modular, power transmission, and timing belts.

In the late 1990’s, as a lighter but durable alternative, plastic modular belts began to replace many rubber, steel chain and steel slat conveyor installations. Now the HabasitLINK® line of plastic modular belts has become indispensable in the automotive industry with its robust and cost-efficient qualities. Designed to withstand the harsh environment of the entire vehicle assembly process, the surface is strong enough to carry people and cars alike while providing precise and secure vehicle positioning.

Habasit has also developed in-depth calculation tools which assist in constructing applications as individualized as the cars they create. Once operations are underway, Habasit offers 24/7 global support through knowledgeable engineers who are always available for on-site maintenance and repair.

Again and again, this has made Habasit the top choice for nearly every major brand in the industry.

In February in Hannover, Germany, Habasit will present several of its automotive manufacturing solutions at the international Tire Technology Expo Conference. When it comes to the future of cars, imagination is everything. Although money may not grow on trees, the magic of modern-day manufacturing does much more. Habasit belts carry ideas all the way from the drawing of a dream to the nuts and bolts of reality. (ST)

Craig KenhartIndustry Segment Manager Automotive and Tire

Jens NiepmannBusiness Developer Automotive and Tire

Don’t hesitate to stop by our booth (stand no. 7080) at Tire Technology Expo 2018 and check out the latest in cutting edge belt technology!

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