Robots seal the deal in Stuttgart

Porsche is replacing the need for paint shop workers on the Taycan production line to insert up to 100 plugs on every car after paint and sealing wax with a robotic process of sealing all cavities with robot-applied patches.

Porsche’s partner in the new process is Tesa, a leading supplier of office tape and a typo away from those other electric car people – I wonder what Google searches will make of that. The patches are highly durable and protrude only 1mm from the surface, versus 6mm for the plugs that were previously employed.

Porsches says that its workers have previously had to insert up to 3,600 plugs per shift, so at 100 plugs per car that is 36 cars per shift. If each shift is eight hours, that is 108 cars a day. It is slightly mind-blowing to imagine the sight of and logistics behind 100 cars a day rolling off the Taycan production lines and being moved to new owners all over the world. Anything Porsche can do to speed up the build process and reduce stress on its workers will be a welcome addition.

“At Tesa, we incorporated more than 20 years’ experience in the manual adhesion of sealing patches in assembly to the development of the Tesa applicator for automated hole sealing,” explains Dr Ute Ellringmann, Market Segment Manager responsible for hole sealing at Tesa. “We can therefore ensure perfect application of our sealing patches for maximum quality and process efficiency.”

“Innovation has always been the driver of our commercial success,” says Albrecht Reimold, Member of the Executive Board responsible for Production and Logistics at Porsche AG. “New innovations have to be mastered. This requires courage and creative freedom. It is management’s role to ensure that this atmosphere is fostered in the day-to-day operations of the company.”

The all-electric Porsche Taycan is the first car in the world to use this new process. Porsche Innovation Management supervised the adoption of the sealing patches, and by July 2020 more than two thirds of the approximately 150 plugs in the Taycan paint shop had been eliminated. The paint shop at the Leipzig plant will also make the switch by summer 2021.

So much to digest here, including the fact that Porsche has an Innovation Management team. This is something worth learning more about – how does a business that innovates everywhere manage that and harvest innovations in one place to use in another? Rolling innovations that take shape in one part of my tiny business out across the full spread of what I do takes months for me – would love to know how Porsche manages this. I think Stuttgart’s innovation management strategy and processes may be the real story here.


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