Leading automotive manufacturer ŠKODA AUTO has been a part of the Volkswagen Group for 30 years. During this time, it has developed into a strong and internationally successful company offering ten different vehicle model lines across worldwide markets.
ŠKODA AUTO operates at three sites in the Czech Republic, with a main factory located in Mladá Boleslav and two other facilities in Kvasiny and Vrchlabí. Vehicles bearing the winged arrow logo are also manufactured in China, Russia, Slovakia and India, primarily through Group partnerships, as well as in Ukraine with a local partner.
Partnering to achieve accuracy in measurement
For decades, ŠKODA AUTO and Hexagon have been measurement partners. This cooperation moved to an even higher level at the end of 2018, when ŠKODA AUTO completed the reconfiguration of its inspection processes from tactile measurement to 3D optical systems with Hexagon’s support. This programme resulted in a significant increase in measurement capacity and quality, as well as the digitalisation of outputs from measuring devices.
This result was achieved through the modernisation of several installed coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), but above all through a unique installation of two fully automated smart measuring cells for the measuring centre in Mladá Boleslav.
In terms of software, ŠKODA AUTO's measurement cells are equipped with Hexagon’s leading metrology platform PC-DMIS – the same software solution in use throughout all of its factories in the Czech Republic. The use of a single software platform across the factories has several practical advantages, such as the uniform integration of VW Group measuring principles directly into PC-DMIS. It has also added technical value in the possibility for the offline preparation of measuring programs.
A significant shift in the development of PC-DMIS in recent years has made it possible to take full advantage of offline programming. The operators of the new measurement cells in Mladá Boleslav have been able to make the most of this capacity, which allows them to start measuring very quickly when the production of new parts is launched.
Previously, ŠKODA AUTO used offline programming in only a limited capacity, typically for tactile measurement on traditional CMMs. But with Hexagon’s HxGN Robotic Automation software, this functionality within PC-DMIS can now be more fully taken advantage of in the context of optical robotic measurement.
“Hexagon’s fully robotic measuring cells are the first embodiment of our cooperation in the field of optical measurement, but it is already clear that this is just the beginning. We would like to continue other projects as soon as possible, and use the HxGN Robotic Automation software for in-line and at-line measurement", said said Martin Jehlička, manager of the measuring centre in Mladá Boleslav, responsible for measuring technologies in the field of car production.
The robotic measuring cell concept now in place in Mladá Boleslav arose from close cooperation between ŠKODA AUTO and Hexagon, and the resulting solution that was installed within a few months is a prototype tailored specifically to the needs of the measuring centre in this location. The system was designed to deliver the versatility the centre needed, with an installed tool-changer unit allowing for direct automated switching between high-speed scanning and more accurate tactile measurement.
This variability means the system will always be able to perform measurement of difficult-to-access areas, such as openings, in a way that would simply not be possible for a less bespoke solution.