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Commercial validation of iPROCELL: a novel modular assembly practice

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - iPROCELL (Commercial validation of iPROCELL: a novel modular assembly practice)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-02-29

The iPROCELL system reaches markets with currently unmet needs. These markets are for the production and assembly of large consumer products such as passenger vehicles & small trucks, white goods, furniture as well as other large technical equipment and devices from many other industrial sectors that are being produced on an economic scale that fits between manual manufacture and full mass production line assembly methods. In our primary target market of Electric Vehicles (EV’s), where small batches of units are produced, neither manual or mass production methods are cost effective.

iPROCELL is a fully automated final assembly cell, with three autonomous robots situated around a centrally built location; it has a footprint, which is X12 smaller than traditional production lines. Our novel modular construction practice provides a cost effective, fully automated, final assembly solution that brings benefits to both the consumer and the supplier:
• Space and cost saving to manufacturers with our small footprint enabling decentralised production practices
• Decentralisation builds new regional supply chains and boosts local economies
• Time and cost saving for consumers, from decentralisation and our lean manufacturing model
• Increased customisation available to customers at no additional time or cost with flexible manufacturing
• Increased factory effectiveness with production of successively different products
• High quality production, with SOA robotics and IoT maintained product warranties

With our patented modular construction approach there are no direct competitors to iPROCELL. Our solution is designed to work alongside existing mass production lines, complementing the customer options available. Some competitive developments have been seen by BMW, Tesla, Porsche etc in integrating robotic production lines for flexible production but these are limited to existing practices.

The overall iPROCELL project objective was to finalise development and deliver a future-oriented production control and logistics solution that binds all process steps from the module production at the suppliers to automated final assembly.
During the delivery of the project we have completed technological developments, generated reports and documentation, constructed a 1:1 demonstrator model, completed testing as well as carried our commercialisation activities.
Development highlights include: the pallet transportation system; the components supply system; gripper system and related sensors; 3D camera system and image technology; among others. These developments have been integrated into a final demonstrator model.

Testing completed includes several virtual and physical tests of the various systems leading up to extensive testing of the demonstrator model with a 1:1 concept e-mobile “VisionCar1”. Testing utilised specialist Automated Guidance Vehicles (AGVs) for quick and autonomous delivery of palletised components.

The project was presented as several prestigious events including Hannover Messe and Nortec Hamburg.
The iPROCELL solutions offers reduced material wastage compared to manual practices as a result of the precision offered. But further to this, iPROCELL offers the flexibility of manual manufacturing to produce customised products on demand but at a scaled down production rate and efficiency equivalent to mass manufacturing.

The modular assembly process of iPROCELL is particularly suited for small series production and has the flexibility to make batch sizes of one and up with equal economies of scale. Thus, with iPROCELL it becomes possible to manufacture products in line with market requirements and on demand. The cell consists of several robots working together in the assembly process and performing machine-to-machine-interaction using the future standards of industrial digitisation to produce high quality products with manufacturer warranties.

Most importantly, iPROCELL is a cost-effective production solution that bridges the state-of-the-art technological gap between manual vehicle production and mass production lines. For those companies currently operating as a manual manufacturer but are looking to expand, iPROCELL offers a solution to meet their production needs at a cost-efficient price. Similarly, for those companies currently using mass production lines, that are looking to offer their end users higher levels of variation and customisation in their products, iPROCELL offers a cost-effective alternative production method.

Confirmed by work carried out during an EC funded Feasibility Study, it is our informed belief that iPROCELL is a completely new production process. The innovative production method, based on assembly of modules, enables savings in logistics and production costs. With iPROCELL:
• customised products can be made at decentralised locations for in line with the current market.
• different products or product variations can be produced successively.
• new supply chain models strengthen regional added-value

Advantages of iPROCELL:
iPROCELL offers the customer a highly flexible production cell that can produce small series and individualised products with low investment costs.

A special characteristic of iPROCELL is the adaptable gripper system with which the robots can take up a huge number of the assemblies to be added and positioned. This increases applicability, reduces clock rates and minimises production costs. Separate sales of our gripper system will provide additional income for IBG.

Local regions and businesses will profit from successful market entry of iPROCELL. For logistic reasons the decentralised manufacturing will lead to a greater integration of regional suppliers. Transport savings associated with compact packing of modules and shorter distances will save energy and as well as reduce transport related CO2 output.

Added value to potential customers
• With iPROCELL it is possible to produce and to offer small series of complicated products, e.g. electric vehicles, for prices in line with market requirements
• With iPROCELL the customer is able to achieve high production flexibility with successive production of different products
iPROCELL manufacturing plant concept design
iPROCELL manufacturing plan layout concept
Automated Guided Vehicle
iPROCELL assembly of VisionCar1
VisionCar1 at Hannover Messe 2019
iPROCELL demonstrator during assembly