An Impressive One-Stop Shop Gestamp inspects automotive parts with the ZEISS AIBox

There is one critical, little-known success factor for automotive manufacturers: the production know-how of OEM suppliers, who currently generate over 75% of the value added for a vehicle. And the trend is accelerating. The Spanish company Gestamp is also driving this development through the use of cutting-edge manufacturing and quality assurance technologies.

Automated Inspection of Automotive Components with ZEISS AIBox

The challenge: To monitor production processes

In Louny alone, Gestamp manufacturers more than 230 different body-in-white parts for a total of 13 OEMs. One particular reason for this success is the company's ability to master tailored tempering, a particularly tricky hot stamping process. Since the tools wear out more quickly with hot stamping than with cold, new molds must be created and the old ones replaced more frequently. In order to detect potential exceeded tolerances in plenty of time, Gestamp wanted to measure significantly more parts in Louny. Everyone involved agreed that the company's goal of inspecting 33,500 parts per year would simply not be possible with the existing coordinate measuring machine. Moreover, Gestamp also wanted to use Big Data analyses for making important manufacturing decisions: "This meant that we would have to acquire, store and analyze more quality data," says Ignacio Fernández Landa, Senior Engineer for Process Control Systems and Quality at Gestamp.

The hot stamped parts are given their final form in the laser cells. After machining, the employees perform random sampling to ensure fitting accuracy.
The hot stamped parts are given their final form in the laser cells. After machining, the employees perform random sampling to ensure fitting accuracy.
Michal Pelc quickly loads the ZEISS AIBox.
Michal Pelc quickly loads the ZEISS AIBox.

The solution: ZEISS AIBox and fixturing systems

The big challenge was to find a system that could measure the parts more quickly while still being extremely accurate. Even though Gestamp did not specify a preference for a particular measuring technique when describing what they required, Raphael Putseys, Global Key Account Manager at ZEISS, understood quite quickly that "as an optical system, the ZEISS AIBox would fit in perfectly along the production line. With the assistance of an interdisciplinary team in Oberkochen, we developed a comprehensive proposal," says Putseys. This impressed the decision makers at Gestamp. After comparing offers from competitors, the company decided to purchase the entire ZEISS package: a ZEISS AIBox with the ZEISS COMET Automated optical sensor, ZEISS PiWeb data management software, the ZEISS fixturing system with a feeding solution and multi-week on-site support to get the system up and running.

"This technology presents an enormous opportunity for us to combine car safety with climate protection goals"

Ignacio Fernández Landa, an engineer at Gestamp

The benefit: Quick data generation

Since the beginning of 2017, the ZEISS AIBox has been in operation at the plant in Louny, checking up to 500 characteristics on a component with great precision and all within 10 to 15 minutes. "Without the ZEISS system, we would have needed at least three contact measuring machines to perform the same tasks," says Michal Pelc, Vision Expert at Gestamp in Louny. To ensure optimum customer satisfaction, ZEISS developed a solution with a small footprint that significantly accelerated ZEISS AIBox loading. Here the modular ZEISS fixture systems come into play. These are stored in a storage unit around five meters in height. "Without this loading system, we would have needed to expand the assembly area," says Fernández Landa. Gestamp now generates a large quantity of data which is then statistically processed using ZEISS PiWeb. "To take one example, we are currently able to determine when our pressing tools need to be replaced earlier than before," says Fernández Landa. "By offering a complete package, ZEISS was able to impress Gestamp management in Spain as a one-stop shop," says Putseys. The next step on the agenda is to implement the ZEISS solution currently being used in Louny at a new production facility in the West Midlands, UK.  

The ZEISS COMET automated sensor uses innovative LED illumination and provides the necessary, highly precise measuring results, allowing Gestamp to ensure that it maintains the required tolerance of +/– 0.3 mm for several components.
The ZEISS COMET automated sensor uses innovative LED illumination and provides the necessary, highly precise measuring results, allowing Gestamp to ensure that it maintains the required tolerance of +/– 0.3 mm for several components.
About Gestamp

Gestamp is a Spanish manufacturer of metal components specializing in hot stamping. Founded in 1997, the company has 30,000 employees worldwide and generated more than 8 billion euros in revenue in 2017 – an 8.5 percent increase over the previous year.