HETHEL, UK— British sports car manufacturer Lotus has refurbished and modernized its assembly plant here with the help of The Dürr Group.
In 2020, Lotus allocated significant funds to upgrade its factory in Hethel, which dates back to 1966. Dürr’s Italian subsidiary CPM created an open and innovative assembly line for the plant. CPM designed the entire line, including bonding stations, the marriage station (where the body is attached to the chassis), filling stations, and test stations.
Dürr’s ProFleet automated guided vehicles move cars from station to station on the new line, which will produce the new Lotus Emira sports car.
The Hethel plant is equipped with 34 medium-sized AGVs with natural navigation. This allows staff to change the AGV path and production layout without significant impact. The ProFleet AGVs at Lotus, used for trim and final operations, are provided with bidirectional kinematics and controlled by an in-house fleet management system based on open architecture software. This enables the plant’s operational staff to intervene directly with each AGV’s operations without necessarily having to wait for external support.
The AGVs are also equipped with an electrohydraulic lifting table that accurately raises or lowers the car bodies to an optimal assembly position.
The AGVs load the car bodies at the beginning of the assembly line and transport them through the entire assembly line in stop-and-go mode. Each AGV stops at a station for set period of time and then continues to the end of line where tests and quality checks are performed.
Lotus also relied on Dürr’s testing expertise at the end of line. Dürr supplied a wheel alignment stand that uses noncontact 3D measuring technology to measure and adjust the chassis geometry within angular minutes. The company also supplied a headlamp aiming system, a calibration system for the vehicle’s advanced driver assistance systems, and a final test system for roll mode and brake operation.