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Products and solutions, 2001-06-11, 02:00 AM

Nothelfer goes online

Body framing on the internet

In the future, car manufacturers will be able to configure their bodies-in-white online at Nothelfer`s website. Nothelfer GmbH is the world`s first automotive equipment manufacturer to offer this service, which will primarily be of assistance to planning departments. The new configuration tool considerably simplifies and speeds up requirement and budgeting estimates for BIW construction. The first major element of the system - the Nothelfer Body Framing Configurator - has been online since May.

The Body Framing Configurator helps in planning the framing station. This station, in which the floor assembly, side panels and roof are joined, is central to body making operations and exerts a major influence on body quality. As the framing station is also the most complex and cost-intensive station in the BIW manufacturing process, Nothelfer selected it to launch its web-based BIW planning system. The automobile manufacturers` planning departments can log into the Body Framing Configurator directly on the company`s homepage at using a password provided by Nothelfer.

The key factor influencing the design of a framing station is the level of flexibility required. Depending on how many variants of a specific vehicle model are to be built, an initial choice between three flexibility levels can be made on the Body Framing Configurator. The next step is to define the system`s productivity by entering the required daily output or the planned cycle time. The configurator also requests information on the number of shifts per day and the number of hours per shift. On this basis, the system suggests suitable framing variants and presents them in the form of three-dimensional graphics.

Once the user has selected the required variant, the next step is to define the quality of the frame. This primarily relates to the number of welds needed to join the floor assembly, side panels and roof. Based on the number of welds and the planned daily output or cycle time, the system calculates the primary and secondary processing times available for welding. This shows how many welding robots are required. The Body Framing Configurator also provides the layout for the robots.

Information is likewise provided on the availability of the framing station. At the end of the configuration process, the user has the opportunity to review and if necessary correct the data entered. A final click of the mouse and the price of the selected framing station is displayed - turnkey, including project management, engineering and control equipment.

The internet-based Body Framing Configurator is based on the fact that Nothelfer, as a systems partner and technology leader for body-in-white, has reacted in recent years to the growth of model variants in auto construction by systematically modularizing its equipment. The result is a modular system which can be matched in flexibility to the number of model variants to be made. For example, the company offers a patented geometry cell in which frames can be firmly locked with the side panels using the type of tensioning system familiar from machine tool construction. The Nothelfer geometry cell is available in various designs to match vehicle size and application.

Customers can also select from a variety of flexible modules to transfer and change the model-specific frames. Solutions include Robot Framing with the modules geometry box and frames, Monorail Framing with geometry box, frames and electric monorail system, or Gantry Framing with geometry box, frames and a gantry lifting system. The Nothelfer Mega Framing System with geometry box, frames and a multi-axis, freely programmable lifting gantry offers maximum flexibility.

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