General Motors has embraced smart manufacturing through its Zero Down Time robot program in partnership with Japan’s Fanuc three years ago. Today, the robots only continue to multiply.
Dan Grieshaber, GM’s director of global manufacturing integration, told Automotive News in a Monday report that the program now includes 13,000 robots across GM’s 54 global manufacturing plants. The robots upload their data to Fanuc where the results are measured against GM’s performance expectations.
From there, GM can troubleshoot maintenance issues and other quirks before they become serious.
“There are directions that come back to our maintenance departments that tell us what we need to go look at, proactively, in advance of a robot breaking down and impacting our production,” Grieshaber said.
But smart manufacturing has grown to include more than just assembly robots. GM has begun providing its robo glove to workers to help prevent fatigue for workers that use repetitive motion. The sensors, actuators and tendons—comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand—increase dexterity for the worker.
GM also uses collaborative robots or “cobots” that can operate around the human workforce without a safety cage.
In the future, Grieshaber said there won’t be a silver bullet to solve all of manufacturing’s issues, but instead a wide combination of solutions. And we’ll likely see more robots to help.