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At Ford’s Cologne plant, future collaborative robots are assisting their human colleagues in the paint shop : Six cobots treat the body of the Fiesta model with coordinated movements in just 35 seconds, thereby completing the particularly labor-intensive, monotonous work steps in record time. Universal Robots’ UR10 models installed by Dahl Automation and specially adapted for the automobile manufacturer are already in use in a similar function elsewhere: At Canadian audio systems specialist Paradigm Electronics , they take over the finishing of lacquer surfaces on loudspeakers and have successfully increased the manufacturer’s production throughput by 50%.

“The robots can feel when more force is needed, just like we can. And they can get to those hard-to-reach places, such as the center of the vehicle roof, more easily,” explains Dennis Kuhn, a production engineer in the paint shop at Ford’s Cologne plant. A soft special additive component between the robot arm and abrasive paper ensures a high degree of precision. On the back of their successful integration in the production process, Ford is already planning to roll out the cobots in its plants in Valencia (Spain) and Craiova (Romania).