Transforming Robots: Another Operation at Renault’s “Factory”

at the end of 2020, Reno The factory in Flint (France) has taken a new path to focus entirely on the circular economy. The next Refactory was created to upgrade used machines and now houses a new workshop that upgrades robots.

The Retrofit department is tasked with upgrading them before they return to the production lines. The unit has upgraded 40 robots this year to support important projects such as the launch of the Megane E-Tech Electric in Dubai.

Sandouville, Maubeuge and Douai… shared robots

Robots from the Sandouville, Maubege and Douai factories are assembled in a workshop run by Natalie, Deputy General Manager of Tooling in Flynn. In the past, each factory upgraded its own machines. Now, the factory is renovating them all to benefit from teams of specialists who combine their experience in a special workshop. By 2023, the team will double in size to eight technicians and a schedule.

After the robots are cleaned, the “roboticists” examine them to determine what needs to be done to restore them. This can be a replacement of an electronic card, harness, motor or wrist (part of the arm). It takes about 40 hours to update the robot.

The robots that arrived here in 2021 were from the Maubeuge factory, when it stopped production of the previous Kangoo and started producing the new version in a new building. The first 18 welding and working robots were dismantled and sent to Flynns for refurbishing. After the upgrade, they will take up their new duties at the Megane Electric assembly line in Douai.

“By combining robot retrofits, we have reduced investment in new projects and maintenance costs. This operation has also shortened supply chains – which are getting longer and longer for new robots – by 40 weeks, compared to the original 20 weeks,” said Nathalie, Deputy General Manager.

Stages of metamorphosis

There are several steps to be taken before the robots can be updated: recording the production end dates for the models, determining when facilities will be available, and centralizing the factories’ requirements. This is what Gabriel, an industrial powerhouse lifecycle architect, does. His job is to coordinate all inventory operations in each plant with contact and relationship with future customers. After the first step, the assignment, the recycling crew undertakes to dismantle, transport and transform the robot. They clean them, empty them, replace parts, update the system, test them for accuracy and durability, and prepare them for shipment. All of these steps are necessary to properly upgrade production systems.

The workshop, which started a year ago, is already very successful and orders for the robots are coming in. Renault Spain has signed on to revamp part of the sheet shop at the Valladolid plant (where the Captur is made). The factory has ordered six robots (including four grippers), which will be delivered by Sandouville and then upgraded in Flints. To meet all these demands, the workshop is also planning a reconstruction: in July, it will be expanded and new facilities will be placed to increase its capacity.

It is already making several robots for the upcoming electric Renault 5, which will be manufactured at the ElectriCity sites in Dubai.

“We are taking every opportunity to increase our selection of robots and meet the demands of batch plants,” said Pascal, an assembly process design specialist. “Starting in 2023, our goal is to convert 170 robots per year to supply electricity projects. This operation will save 3 million euros per year.”

“This new and economically viable operation meets the challenges surrounding the ecological transition and more sustainable consumption. “Buying less, extracting value from existing products and creating a new industrial model focused on the circular economy is one of the Renault Group’s priority commitments,” the automaker said.

Transforming Robots: Another Operation at Renault’s “Factory”

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