Electric vehicle (EV) markets are seeing substantial growth thanks to increased demand and global policy goals. While the growing popularity of EVs presents opportunities for automotive manufacturers and suppliers, building new EV production facilities or retrofitting old ones involves substantial capital investment and labor costs. And, EV production processes must satisfy aggressive throughput goals.
Automated systems are poised to address these challenges. Robots transport parts and materials across work cells while plug-and-play subsystems make changeovers easy, reducing production time and costs.
However, specifying and implementing the right motion components for automated EV operations — such as battery production — can also be challenging. Here are some potential problems system designers may encounter:
- Short changeover times. In a just-in-time industry like auto production, manufacturers have only weeks to design and build production systems. Interchangeable components give designers flexibility to swap out single components without building a new assembly, saving time and simplifying inventory management.
- Supply chain issues. Not every motion component manufacturer can handle immediate demand for its products. A short supply of a critical component can disrupt the production schedule and time to market.
- Environmental considerations. Components used in Li-ion battery production, for example, should be free of copper-based substances, resist moisture and not generate dust or dirt. Harsh environments typically call for custom units and supplier know-how.
- Maintenance. Sometimes equipment can be difficult to access for maintenance, and the downtimes can be expensive.
For these reasons, it’s critical to choose the right motion component supplier. At IKO, we have extensive expertise working with demanding automotive and automated manufacturing processes.
Our lineup of linear guides, crossed roller bearings (CRBs) and mechatronics gives machine designers the accuracy and smooth motion these systems require, along with robust construction for protection from harsh automotive and battery manufacturing conditions.
Linear Motion. Our linear guides deliver precise, repeatable linear motion for today’s modular automated EV systems, such as when moving objects from one work cell to another. For example, linear motion rolling guides feature cylindrical rollers that make a large contact area with the raceway to provide high load capacities. Our ball-type linear motion rolling guides are particularly desirable for complex loads. Both guide types provide exceptional rigidity for stable performance. Their interchangeable components allow them to be matched, exchanged or freely added without replacing an entire assembly, giving engineers greater design freedom. We offer carbon and stainless steel material construction for deployment in tough environments. And, many guides come with C-Lube — a self-lubricating system with a built-in capillary element to provide long-lasting maintenance-free operation and cost savings while keeping the same product sizes and low frictional resistance.
Crossed Roller Bearings. We engineered CRBs to handle radial, thrust and moment loads at the same time and make line contact with the raceway surface for excellent rigidity, load handling ability and maximum accuracy. Their compact size allows them to fit into small mechanisms like articulating arms that position and rotate objects in vehicle production.
Mechatronics. Our ball screw driven positioning and alignment tables feature exceptional thrust force and high rigidity. For example, our TX super-precision tables are used in the turning machines that produce Li-ion batteries. And, AC linear motor driven positioning tables — like our SA-DE alignment tables — deliver high accuracy and fast response for high-speed, high-precision assembly machinery.
Keep Pace With Changing EV Production Goals
At IKO, we carry a large inventory of off-the shelf products stocked in multiple U.S. locations to ensure delay-free availability and design freedom for easy integration into modular and plug-and-play automated equipment. Our engineers can also partner with you to customize a solution to meet your system’s special requirements.
As you ramp up your electric vehicle manufacturing operation to meet the expected demand, count on IKO linear guides, CRBs and mechatronics for the rigidity, accuracy and ruggedness these systems require. Together with design freedom, product and part availability and protection from harsh conditions, our products ensure you keep pace with the EV market’s ambitious production targets.