The platforms are large enough to support the entire vehicle and have floors aligned with their surroundings. Workers can easily walk around and work in cars from any angle without having to dodge hangers or step over conveyors. Pallets can also be stacked closer in the line, which means work processes can be combined and the length of the line cut.
When the platform comes to the end of a line and needs to turn around, the pallet simply slides sideways along the carriage. There is no need for expensive robots to transfer the car, and the system allows Mazda to expand a line by simply adding sections of rollers when demand increases.
While it took Mazda six weeks to extend a line, it can now be done in just seven days.
The new cart system improves overall final assembly productivity by 25 percent, Mazda said.
“The key word here is rootless. It is not a non-fixed installation,” said Hironori Okano, general manager of the Hofu plant. “In the future, we will be able to do a lot of things flexibly.
Previously, only about 15% of the plant’s main line used such “rootless” processes. Today, after the introduction of sleeper trolley technology, around 60% of the line is not stationary.
Another advantage is that it allows flexibility to manufacture EVs on the same line as those with internal combustion engines. Previously, a fixed line lifted the engines, suspensions or transmissions into the bodies of a vehicle at set spacings. Now, these component systems are delivered to the line by fleets of automated guided vehicles, or AGVs.
AGVs zoom under the vehicle body and line up perfectly for any type of vehicle they’re trying to build – with one AGV in the front, another AGV in the back.
This allows Mazda to flexibly adapt to any combination of long or short vehicles on the same line, with a number of powertrain variants including all-electric, all-wheel drive, hybrid and even a new transmission mounted longitudinally for rear wheel drive. Vehicles.
Mazda wants electric vehicles to account for a quarter of the Japanese automaker’s global sales by 2030. And by then, the rest of Mazda’s production portfolio will also use another form of transmission electrification, the light hybrid with plug-in hybrid technology.