Toledo, Ohio – KUKA Toledo Production Operations (KTPO) workers have completed production of the 2 millionths Jeep Wrangler body-in-white, a milestone for the automotive partnership launched in 2006 under which robotics and automation technology supplier KUKA builds the basic vehicle structure and FCA US LLC workers finish the vehicle.
Since beginning operations, KTPO has built the body-in-white of all Wranglers sold worldwide – 2-door and 4-door models. It took seven years for KTPO to build the first million, but only four to make the second million.
"KTPO has been a tremendous story for KUKA, a study in technical excellence and ambition, complemented by a strong commitment to the venture's continued success by all involved, especially our Toledo staff," says Larry A Drake, CEO of KUKA Systems Group. "It's a platform for implementing KUKA innovation and best practices that attracts visitors from around the world to understand how this works so well on multiple levels."
With a fleet of 259 robots, KTPO produces the unpainted vehicle body – 828 per day, or one every 77 seconds, using three daily shifts – in the 330,000ft2 body shop. Following a trip through the paint shop, the KTPO bodies are then mated to the chassis frame during final assembly at the adjacent Toledo Assembly Complex.
Assembling the body-in-white involves welding the underbody, windshield, and closures together, which enables KUKA Systems to showcase its automated metal joining technologies. The plant's robotic fleet and 60,000 other inputs are linked to a back-end digital monitoring system and a master data management system.
This networking of production processes has evolved into an intelligent lifecycle management platform designed to Industry 4.0 principles. The fully digitized solution controls and monitors the entire value chain in real time, from receipt of materials to the actual production processes and goods dispatch. It also identifies bottlenecks and optimizes capacity utilization.