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AGVs move Porsche’s Taycan EVs through multi-level plant

20 July, 2020

The German car-maker Porsche has commissioned a new line to produce its first fully-electric car, the Taycan, at its space-constrained site in Stuttgart, in just 4½ months, without disrupting the production of sportscars at the same site. Instead of traditional conveyor systems, the multilevel production line uses AGVs (automated guided vehicles) to move the vehicles from one assembly station to the next.

The line was built in about half the time usually needed for such projects.

The heights of buildings at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen site, located in a built-up area of Stuttgart, are limited by the need not to interfere with flightpaths to the city’s airport. Porsche has therefore had to develop a unique manufacturing concept that makes the most of every level of its buildings without wasting any height.

As with other Porsche vehicles, the Taycan can be customised to suit the purchaser's specification. The company had to ensure every station offered the necessary flexibility – a huge logistical challenge with production spread over several floor levels .

To achieve the necessary flexibility, Porsche decided against using fixed conveyor belts for final assembly and opted instead for a flexible system involving autonomous AGVs. This choice has made it possible to adapt the operating cycles to actual needs – for example, stopping an AGV to perform certain automated tasks and then speeding it up to move on to the next processing station.

AGVs are used instead of conventional conveyors to transport the Taycan bodies from one processing station to the next

To ensure everything functioned smoothly from the outset, the entire line was simulated and tested virtually before construction started to avoid clashes and optimise workflows.

Siemens supplied the conveyor technology used for the vehicle assembly process. As well as the AGVs and a door conveyor system, EMS (electric monorail system) tilt hangers are being used that allow the car bodies to be rotated through 110 degrees in both directions to give workers easy access to all parts. Heavy-duty EMS hangers carry the full weight of the vehicles, including motors and high-voltage batteries, to a final acceptance point, where they are transported using a conventional conveyor belt. Axles and doors are taken to pre-assembly locations, completed, and returned to the line.

The Taycan line assembly line began operating at the Zuffenhausen site last September. It was implemented using Siemens’ Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal engineering framework, and automated using Simatic controllers and drive components.

Tilt hangers allow the car bodies to be rotated through 110 degrees in either direction to give access to all areas.

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