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MSA Vorrichtungsbau has developed an innovative solution with Yaskawa robots for the efficient production of mechatronic connectors in electric cars.


Preparing contacts, casting in plastic, refining, testing and packaging: the production of mechatronic connectors for electric cars is highly complex and must at the same time meet the high-efficiency pressure of the automotive industry. MSA Vorrichtungsbau has solved this demanding automation task for supplier CGR with a total of nine handling robots from Yaskawa.

The automotive supply industry
is characterized by highly complex products in large quantities. For manufacturers, this means they must produce faster and cheaper, especially in Germany. This applies above all to mechatronic components in vehicles, as they are used to an even greater extent in electric cars than in combustion engines. Accordingly, demand continues to strongly increase in the course of electromobility.

CGR B-E GmbH in Mettmann is also faced with these challenges. The subsidiary of the French group CGR International has its roots in the plastics industry and today supplies complex stamped parts and assemblies, as well as the associated tools. Managing Director Stefan Schmidt describes the situation of his company as follows: “We must deal with cost pressure in the industry – and as part of a global group of companies, we must also assert ourselves against other production sites abroad. This is only possible with a very high degree of automation.”

Demanding automation task
CGR recently implemented a pioneering automation solution for the production of a new mechatronic component in Mettmann. Specifically, this involves connectors for the electronic steering systems of the various electric vehicle models of well-known manufacturers. These connectors must be pre-assembled and then cast in plastic by injection moulding.

The respective production process has some characteristic requirements: the application calls for very high precision, despite the desired high throughputs. In addition, the products are safety-relevant components that require the highest process standards and thus quality assurance. The system must therefore ensure, for example, a dust-free “clean room” atmosphere, so that small particles cannot contaminate the connectors. Last but not least, flexibility is required: three connector models are built on the system, each containing three different contact types.

MSA Vorrichtungsbau GmbH (MSA) took on the challenge. The special machine and fixture manufacturer from Eichelhardt, Rhineland-Palatinate, has long enjoyed a good partnership with CGR. “This is already the fifth plant to be implemented in a joint venture,” explains MSA Managing Director Alexander Pierkes. He also states a reason for the smooth cooperation with his customers: “We at MSA already test and commission our systems under operating conditions in our own factory. We only have to ship them in turnkey condition to the later place of use, resulting in an enormous reduction in installation work on site.”


Three-part system concept
The system concept developed by MSA essentially consists of three parts: pre-assembly and injection moulding machine, followed by finishing and quality assurance. The entire process is fully automated and runs exclusively in unmanned operation. Robots are used for all steps (except for the actual injection moulding in the machine) – more precisely: nine industrial robots from Yaskawa’s Motoman GP series.

The GP series (GP for general purpose) comprises an extensive range of 6-axis handling robots with load capacities between 4 and 600 kg. With different payload-range combinations, special designs with high IP protection class, food-grade grease or specially painted surfaces, these robots solve diverse automation tasks in all industries, such as handling, assembly, machine loading, milling/drilling/deburring, grinding/polishing or quality control. Yaskawa manufactures the GP robots for the European market at its plant in Kočevje, Slovenia. The correspondingly shorter transport routes enable faster delivery times, and also reduce the carbon footprint.

This is not the only reason why MSA regularly relies on robots from the Motoman portfolio. In the current job for CGR, in particular their exceptional precision and repeatability spoke for this decision. Furthermore, numerous other Yaskawa robots are already in use at CGR’s Mettmann site. Stefan Schmidt emphasizes, “We are very satisfied with our robots and strive for a certain uniformity in the factory, in order to minimize the training costs and optimize spare parts management,” and introduces a further argument in favour of Yaskawa: “The robot controllers can be easily integrated into our Profinet-based machine and plant environment.” Alexander Pierkes adds: “Communication is really fast with the Motoman controls. By way of the factory-integrated Motologix interface in the YRC1000 controller, they also offer many features that we at MSA use in their entire bandwidth. For example, an interface is already integrated into the control system at the factory.”


Process with extremely fast cycle times
The actual production process begins with pre-assembly: four small Motoman GP4 robots work on a rotary indexing table. For example, they separate the contacts from the coil, isolate and process them, assemble the connectors and set so-called pins.

In the next step, the prefabricated components are cast with plastic in an injection moulding machine. The machine is loaded and unloaded by a Motoman GP50 with a load capacity of 50 kg. The robot then deposits the connectors on a conveyor belt, on which they pass through further processing stations. In various procedures they are sealed and finally checked for electrical safety (E-check), tightness and other relevant factors. Finally, the finished components are packaged – again robot-based – in trays for further in-house transport.

The system requires just 37.5 seconds for the parallel production of four components, with a total capacity of around 1.92 million connectors. Robotics ensure the required flexibility. Despite the large number of robots, the system can be converted to a new connector type in only four hours.


CGR B-E GmbH in Mettmann meets the exacting demands of the international automotive industry with a highly automated system from MSA Vorrichtungsbau GmbH. A total of nine Motoman robots take on complex tasks with high precision and speed.

In fact, both the extremely fast cycle times and the complex combination of so many work steps in one system are by no means commonplace for automation experts like Alexander Pierkes from MSA: “With this system, we are really operating at the limits of what is technically possible.”

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