As an industry leader in agricultural equipment, AGCO manufactures its products with farmers in mind. The company produces an array of equipment in a variety of sizes, including a line of huge tractors from its Fendt brand.
The tractors’ large size means increased assembly requirements for AGCO. For one thing, the screw connections need to be tightened with high levels of torque. AGCO’s Marktoberdorf assembly plant in Bavaria uses screw systems from Atlas Copco. Since the tools are heavy, they are attached to special handling arms that give workers considerable freedom of movement.
“In order to absorb the dead weight and support the high reaction torques, we have fixed them to the handling arms,” says Stefan Böhm, Assembly Planner and Screw Technology Specialist at AGCO in Marktoberdorf. “This takes pressure off our employees without restricting freedom of movement.” The handling arms are fixed to a track system above the assembly line and only need a small amount of space at the workstation.
‘Articulated arms’ is the name that Atlas Copco has given these large handling arms, which are designed for torques of up to 1 500 Newton meters (Nm). The arms were designed by Atlas Copco’s Application Center in Essen, Germany. The standard range includes three versions for torques of 250 to 2 000 Nm. With the appropriate accessories, it is possible to affix either individual hand tools or multiple screw units weighing up to 160 kilograms. The freely movable boom makes the tool weightless and able to rotate in all directions.
AGCO’s new Fendt 900 tractor series required an increase in torque from 295 Nm to 580 Nm. The necessary tools were much heavier, which could have increased the level of stress on workers. “We didn’t just want to ensure that the high torques could be managed ergonomically,” Böhm says. “We also wanted to do away with the impact screwdrivers with joint sockets that had been used previously.”
Böhm says the Marktoberdorf plant was initially considering a system with a telescopic mount for the tools. “But once Atlas Copco presented the articulated arms to us, which were new at that point, we quickly changed the order,” he says. The telescopic stations would have had restrictions on their ability to reach the different screw positions, while the articulated arms offer much more flexibility.
An added feature of the Atlas Copco tools is that all the screw data from the manufacturing process can be automatically saved to the vehicle by using its chassis number, and traced back if required.