Marginal Column


July 2014


Using the VarioFlow chain conveyor system to suspend auto body parts while they are moving saves space and simplifies handling. Bosch Rexroth developed an innovative solution especially for one carmaker, making this concept practicable for roof interior trims, too.


Custom equipment is a necessity in top-of-the-line vehicles. This is also true for the roof interior trim. Having twenty different versions for two to three models of a vehicle is hardly a rarity. To manufacture this broad variety, it is necessary to move the roof interior trim to a laser processing station. And the carmaker wanted a conveyor system that not only saved space, but also simplified handling.

A perfect match

Working in close cooperation with the system integrator, the Woll company, Bosch Rexroth developed a specific solution for this customer, one that makes it possible to transport roof interior trims hanging on a track. To achieve this, the VarioFlow 90 chain conveyor system was fitted with a longer version of the hanger, to which carriers are attached.

Instead of lying on the conveyor belt, these roof interior trims, weighing up to six kilograms, are suspended vertically from the conveyor, about three meters above the floor. The roof interior trims then float directly to the robot at the machining station. That robot picks them up and places them in a device that rotates them through 180 degrees and inserts them into the laser cutting station.

After processing, this device once again turns the roof interior trim through 180 degrees and removes the complete piece from the station. The robot takes the roof interior trim and hangs it on the conveyor carrier again. From there, it is transported to the removal point.

Almost on its own

One very major advantage of the conveyor system is that employees can do something more productive while the roof interior trims are being machined. Manual intervention is required only when hanging up and removing the completed roof interior trims.

Once a batch has been hung on the conveyor, all the workpieces will be processed automatically, one after another, and then put in buffer storage. That makes it possible not only to remove them in a single phase, but whenever it is convenient, too. This means that the system can be run during breaks or even after the end of the shift. With this solution, unique in this form, the carmaker can serve four complete assembly lines.


It almost works on its own. Manual intervention is required only when filling the VarioFlow chain conveyor system and removing the completed roof interior trims.

Transportation to the robot at the laser machining station is fully automatic.