JNE provided design/build and installation services to CAMI Automotive Inc. for a robot on its “M3” car line. The CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, is a joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki of Japan. For Suzuki, the factory produces the Swift subcompact and the Sidekick sport utility vehicle (SUV). For GM, the vehicles are badged the Geo Metro and Geo Tracker respectively.
JNE was able to help when CAMI was investigating the possibility of exporting vehicles to both Europe and Japan. Differing standards in Europe, North America, and Japan in regards to Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) forced CAMI to change its factory processes. The solution was to build a robotic marking system that could accommodate all three styles of VIN.
The turn key contract was awarded when JNE proved that it had the experience, the resources and a competitive price to successfully complete the time-critical project. The Project Manager had 12 years previous experience at General Motors and direct experience with automotive robotics and control systems. In addition to her AutoCAD skills, the lead designer put her welding background to good use when she designed the heavy duty pedestal to which the robot would eventually be mounted.
Triple Crown Enterprises, partnering with JNE, provided the installation capability and control panel assembly. Triple Crown Enterprises turned its shop into a temporary robotics lab for the duration of the project. The project quickly took on a larger scope and some detailed data communications were added. Another ex-GM engineer joined the team to add the controls component, and his multi-disciplined skills were a significant contribution.
The robot itself was provided by CAMI. A German company, Borries Marking Systems, provided the scriber which would be attached to the robot arm. JNE acted as the system integrator or the “glue” between these separate components.
The task of the robot was to scribe a serial number or VIN into the metal of the engine compartment of the car. This is accomplished in a mere 22 seconds. The precision and the speed of the robot, along with the German marking head, allowed the VIN number to be etched into the car with the characters accurate to within one tenth of one millimetre. The system performed so well that CAMI is standardizing this process for all future vehicle designs in its plant.