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The body shop

The Macan is put together in the body shop from hundreds of individual steel and aluminum parts which are joined step by step to form the vehicle’s metal coat. Adaptive welding tongs produce up to 5,200 weld spots. The tongs are adjusted automatically as soon as the integrated monitoring systems detect even minute deviations in the car body. In this way, all weld spots are placed precisely at their desired position.

A total of about 400 robots turn the body shop into an impressive sight. However, despite the high degree of automation, human workers are essential here, in particular for quality controls, systems operation and several manual tasks. In the body shop we rely on harmonic interaction between expert human labor and state-of-the-art technology.

The production of the overlapping aluminum bonnet of the Macan is a technical masterpiece as there are no visible seams on the upper area of the bonnet. Never before has the bonnet construction of a series produced car been so complex. The body shop comprises several production cells and one line production facility. Initially, the individual parts are assembled into subcomponents such as bonnet or quarter panels in the separate production areas. These components are then fitted to a body in the line production area.

1. Underbody

Line production of the Macan body begins with the underbody. Here, the front and rear underbodies, wheel houses and the front section are fitted together in a fully automated process. This station represents the birth place of the vehicle. This is where the Macan receives its “birth certificate” – a transponder with a special identification code. This code contains all of the future vehicle’s details, for example this tells the welding robots in the body shop which kind of roof needs to be prepared for the vehicle.

In the line production area, the car bodies are taken through several measurement stations for quality assessment. Here, robots equipped with cameras measure the dimensions of the body to the smallest detail. The system reports any deviations directly to the system operator.

2. Body assembly

The complete underbody is transferred to the body assembly, where the body-in-white is put together. This includes the fitting of the interior and exterior quarter panels and the installation of the roof.

Quarter panels
The first step here is the attachment of the interior quarter panels to the underbody by robots. However, the panels are not welded into place at this point, they are only mounted. Similarly, the roof bow, which is used to connect the interior quarter panels at the top, is loosely installed. In the next stage of the process, a so-called framer clamps over the complete body and precisely aligns the vehicle geometry. It is in this tensioned state that the interior quarter panels are welded to the body.
Once the interior quarter panels are installed, the exterior quarter panels are mounted  onto the body in the same way and welded on by a second framer in their exact geometric positions. In this way, we can set the dimensions of the vehicle body and complete the base frame of the vehicle.

Roof laser station
Two different basic roof versions are delivered to the factory for the Macan – sliding roofs and solid roofs. In the production cells, these roofs are subject to additional variations (with or without roof rails and with or without SDARS). We generally prepare eight different roof variants for assembly.
In the line production area, the roof is welded to the body in a laser welding cabin. Here, a robot initially places the roof loosely onto the body. Then, a roof bell equipped with suction cups brings the roof into the correct position and puts it under tension. Robots then weld the roof to the side panels. To guarantee a smooth surface, the laser seams on the body are afterwards smoothed over with grinding disks.

Derivative station
This is the last station in the body assembly area. Here, the mounting for the pneumatic spring and the torque support for turbo engines are welded into place. To optimize workplace ergonomics for our colleagues, the car body is rotated by 90 degrees to avoid overhead work.

3. Attachments

In the third section of the process, doors, bonnet and boot lid are added to the body-in-white. The overlapping bonnet of the Macan is a novelty. Since even the headlights are enclosed by the bonnet, no seams are visible on top of the bonnet.

The fitting of the attachments takes place at two key stations: the best fit assembly and the attachments table. In the best fit assembly the first step is the automatic fitting of the front and rear doors and bonnet into place. The best fit process makes sure that each component is fitted in its ideal position. This position may vary from body to body by a few micrometers. First of all, the robots successively attach the rear doors, followed by the front doors and finally the bonnet.

Optimal fitting of the attachments therefore begins at the rear then moves on to the front. Prior to each step, camera systems precisely measure both the body and the part to be fitted.
At the attachments table, boot lid and fenders are fitted semi-automatically by workers. Now the body is complete.

4. Finish

An acceptance inspection of the vehicle takes place on the finish line. This includes a careful inspection of seams, surfaces and gaps by the workers. Any rework is done by hand. Once all quality requirements have been met, the car body is transferred to the paint shop.

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