In 2003, HJS Fahrzeugtechnik GmbH (Menden, Germany) developed a new clean-exhaust diesel particulate filter that is now being manufactured commercially using a mixed-mode production line based on the TS 2plus pallet-based conveyor system from Bosch Rexroth Corp. (Buchanan, MI).

HJS elected to go with the TS 2plus system because of its fast belt speeds, flexibility, modular design, and durability with the respect to some of the abrasive materials used in the filters. Another plus was the fact that the systems can carry loads weighing up to 100 kilograms and can accommodate pallets ranging in size from 160-by-160 millimeters to 1,040-by-800 millimeters.

In its current configuration, the 120-meter line includes 11 robots as well as 15 other processing stations. In addition to a number of electrical transverse conveyors and positioning units, the line includes a number of loops and bypass sections, which allow HJS engineers to fine tune the production line for maximum efficiency. The loops also allow production managers to bypass a station in the event of a breakdown or scheduled maintenance.

“This…gives us the flexibility that we need,” says HJS technical manager Dr. Joachim-Christian Claus. “If a test takes longer than a preceding welding step, the products will accumulate in front of the station. [However], we are able to prevent this easily by simply drawing on a second test station.”

The result has been a system that is both reliable and highly efficient. According to Claus, since ramping up, the line has been in continual operation six days a week. Because of its modularity, the system can be easily reconfigured in the future to accommodate new product types or changes in production capacity.

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