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Porsche produces almost all the body panels for its Panamera sedan on a refurbished press line featuring a hydraulic lead-off press from Schuler SMG and eight crossbar robots from Schuler Automation.

On the old press line, six mechanical models produced a variety of parts; however, the customer now benefits from the performance of the hydraulic lead-off press at the beginning of the line, supplied by Schuler SMG in Waghaeusel, Germany.

‘This press enables us to react particularly flexibly to varying production requirements,’ said project manager Markus Geier of Schuler SMG.

The hydraulic drive enables users to exactly regulate the press force progression.

This offers a number of benefits, especially for the production start of new parts, as new dies can be tried out faster than with mechanical presses.

A high level of part quality can be achieved after a relatively short test period.

‘It’s also possible to use both single- and double-action dies,’ added Geier.

The press bed is designed for the processing of sheets with a maximum size of 5.0 x 2.5m.

The lead-off press provides a press force of 2,500 metric tons.

Depending on the part, it can complete six to 10 strokes per minute.

The eight Schuler crossbar robots handle automation along the entire line, from feeding blanks into the Schuler draw press to stacking the finished parts after they have left the last mechanical press at the end of the line.

The crossbar robots enable the flexible removal of the large Porsche parts out of the press die.

If required, they can be turned vertically or horizontally and then processed further by the next press.

Geier continued: ‘Think about the Porsche’s famous wide wings, for example; transporting such parts would not previously have been possible with the press line’s former feeder automation.

‘It’s no problem though for the robots that Schuler Automation has equipped with two further movement axes,’ he said.

The six-axis robots are claimed to be extremely agile; they feature a hanging track and a swinging axis fixed to the robot’s hand – similar to that of a human wrist – which can move in various dimensions.

Compared with lines without crossbar technology, which are only linked by robots or feeders, there is a significant increase in output.

The press line automation system is rounded out by the use of Presstec software.

Thanks to the use of this software, the line optimises itself during operation and thus continually raises output performance.

With the aid of Schuler’s solutions, the line has been producing virtually all panels for the new Porsche Panamera – including the doors, the hood and the trunk – since April 2009.

Around 10 die sets are used to produce the parts.

The finished parts are then transported to the car body shop, where they are assembled before being painted.

Finally, the logistics system sends the painted, polished and glossy car bodies from the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles facility Hanover to Porsche’s facility in Leipzig, where the Panamera is assembled.

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