BIRMINGHAM, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Car makers and their suppliers are expected to dramatically increase the use of robotic leak-detection systems at their manufacturing and final-assembly plants in the next five years.
INFICON, a major global supplier of leak-detection equipment, predicts that on a global basis the percentage of automotive plants with robotic leak-detection systems will jump from five percent today to 20 percent or more by 2024.
The move to robotic testing is due in part to a growing interest in electric, hybrid-electric and autonomous vehicles, according to Thomas Parker, INFICON’s North American automotive sales manager.
“Electric vehicle (EV) traction batteries, fuel-cell membrane electrode assemblies, autonomous vehicle LIDAR systems and other mission-critical automotive components are on the industry’s ‘can’t-leak list’ globally,” Parker noted. He spoke here at a recent (June 11, 2019) Automotive Business and Technology Forum.
“The quality of these electric- and autonomous-vehicle components are safety critical and must provide trouble-free service throughout the life of a vehicle,” Parker said. “Whenever people put their lives in the hands of a self-driving machine, for example, they expect it to work flawlessly.”
He pointed out that the move to robotic leak detection helps eliminate costly human error that occurs under repetitive-test conditions. Properly designed robotic leak detection also can reduce costs, improve quality and increase assembly-line speeds to produce a safer final product.
Parker explained that there are two basic robotic leak-detection methods – static and dynamic. Static testing utilizes a robotic arm equipped with a sniffer probe that moves to pre-determined points on a test piece, then remains stationary for a defined period of time. Dwell times are based on potential leak rates at each point.
With dynamic testing, a robotic arm moves the sniffer probe in a continuous path along the part’s surface. Test accuracy is affected by the distance maintained between the part and sniffer probe, the rate at which the arm travels and the volume of air the probe can sniff during the test. Dynamic tests can quickly check a relatively large area, while still maintaining acceptable cycle times.
For more information about robotic testing, INFICON has published a white paper that is available free of charge at Robotic Leak Testing White Paper.
INFICON is one of the world's leading developers, producers and suppliers of instruments and devices for leak detection in air conditioning, refrigeration and automotive manufacturing. The company has manufacturing facilities in Europe, China and the United States, as well as sales and service offices throughout the world. More information about INFICON automotive technology is available online at www.inficonautomotive.com.