Ford has introduced a self-driving parts delivery robot at its plant in Valencia which it says frees up to 40 employee hours daily.
The robot was developed in-house and is the first of its kind in the company’s European facilities. It has been nicknamed “Survival” because of its ability to adapt to its environment.
“We programmed it to learn the whole of the plant floor so, together with sensors, it doesn’t need any external guides to navigate,” said Eduardo García Magraner, manufacturing manager, at the Valencia body plant.
The robot is equipped with an automated shelf that has 17 slots to hold materials of different weights and sizes. To avoid errors, the opening and closing of these slots is automated, meaning operators in each area only have access to the materials assigned to them.
For Ford, delivering spare parts and welding material to different stations around the plant is crucial element to keeping Kuga, Mondeo and S-MAX production going. But for the workers the task is time-consuming and relatively mundane. The robot does not replace employees but can save up to 40-employee hours every day by taking over this role, allowing operators to use their time on more complex tasks.
“It’s been on trial for almost a year now and has performed faultlessly to-date. It’s become quite a valuable team member,” said Garcia Magraner. “Hopefully we can put it into full-time use shortly and expand into other Ford facilities.”