Bodies framed on the Internet

German-based Nothelfer GmbH claims that it will soon be the world’s first automotive equipment manufacturer to offer car manufacturers the ability to configure their bodies-in-white (BIW) online.

Of primary assistance to planning departments, a new configuration tool at Nothelfer’s website will simplify and speed up budgeting estimates for BIW construction. The first major element of the system – the Nothelfer Body Framing Configurator – has been online since May.

The Body Framing Configurator helps in planning a framing station. This station, in which the floor assembly, side panels and roof are joined, is central to body making operations and has a great influence on body quality. As the framing station is also the most complex and cost-intensive station in the BIW manufacturing process, Nothelfer selected it to launch its web-based BIW planning system.

The key factor influencing the design of a framing station is the level of flexibility required. Depending on how many variants of a specific vehicle model are to be built, an initial choice between three levels can be made on the Body Framing Configurator. The next step is to define the system`s productivity by entering the required daily output or the planned cycle time. The configurator also requests information on the number of shifts per day and the number of hours per shift. On this basis, the system suggests suitable framing variants and presents them in the form of three-dimensional graphics.

Once the user has selected the required variant, the next step is to define the quality of the frame. This primarily relates to the number of welds needed to join the floor assembly, side panels and roof. Based on the number of welds and the planned daily output or cycle time, the system calculates the primary and secondary processing times available for welding. This shows how many welding robots are required. The Body Framing Configurator also provides the layout for the robots.

At the end of the configuration process, the user has the opportunity to review and if necessary correct the data entered. A final click of the mouse and the price of the selected framing station is displayed.

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