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The Austrian company Magna Presstec GmbH is part of the COSMA (Body and Chassis) group of companies within the Magna concern. With a total of 1200 employees, Presstec is pressing ahead to shape the future of the automotive sector: The main focus of this tier 1 supplier is the production of high-quality chassis and structural components made from aluminum and steel. One of its prestige projects is the production of the frame for the legendary Mercedes G at its site in Lebring in southern Austria.
» WeldCube Premium is an important pillar of our quality management system in the production hall. The complete traceability of every single weld is incredibly important to us … The gathered data are then fed back to help us optimize the automated welding processes. We've found the perfect partner in Fronius. «Kurt Hartmann, Manager of the Quality Assurance and Welding Supervision division for frame production of the Mercedes G range
The basic component must be able to withstand the hardest off-road conditions and satisfy the most stringent demands in terms of quality. The requirements placed on the weld quality of the frame are abundantly clear. The steel used is primarily in sheets 2-4 millimeters thick, which are joined together using 657 welds. Believe it or not, the total weld length per frame amounts to 76 meters.
Production on the G line naturally always has to take place within specified tolerances – with high arc stability and optimal penetration. Among the essential requirements are controlled heat input and very little distortion. The almost fully automated production line extends for more than 100 meters and is to a large extent autonomous.
At the beginning of each construction section, the pre-formed sheets are simply inserted by the machine operator. All subsequent operations across the various welding cells are almost fully automated and run under the control of handling and welding robots. For this reason, the systems must be perfectly integrated and seamlessly interlinked. Only then will it be possible to have a completed G frame leave the hall every 10 minutes at the end of the production process.
The wide-ranging requirements profile of the Mercedes G range meant that Magna Presstec was confronted by a broad spectrum of challenges in production. The solution with regard to the arc technology employed was provided by our PMC (Pulse Multi Control) process, for which the modular TPS 500i welding platform is again a prerequisite. A total of 36 of these systems are used on the G production line, with some TPS 320i systems also included for manual welding operations.
To ensure a high degree of autonomous production while maintaining high quality levels, the focus in the design and tooling of the G line right from the outset was on the integration of monitoring and data analysis tools for welding processes. The TPSi systems make total digital traceability possible. The Fronius WeldCube Premium software package is used for this purpose, as it is able to identify dubious or even faulty welds very accurately. The gathered data are then fed back to help in the continuous optimization of the automation process.
Magna Presstec also uses the Central User Management (CENTRUM) package from Fronius, which is used to centrally manage user and welding permissions. This means Magna can be certain that specific tasks are only carried out at the right location by trained operators using the relevant parameters - another way of eliminating potential sources of error.