LEVC hails L3 MacDonald Humfrey Automation for iconic TX electric Taxi solution

Company Facts

Name:  LEVC (London EV Company)
Location: United Kingdom
Industry: Automotive

Challenges

  • To provide a fully automated customized materials handling and controls solution to produce the iconic TX electric taxi
  • Ensure integration among robotic cells and main line and sub-assembly lines
  • Use technology and innovation to add flexibility into the assembly line
  • Reduce risk and save cost before deployment
  • Provide a common controls platform and standards across the plant

Success highlights

  • Designing and deploying a complete controls and automation solution across the purpose-built LEVC plant
  • Virtual commissioning allowing client to see a 3-D rendered image of the assembly lines while running, increasing efficiencies and saving costs before installation
  • Completing the project on time, in 12 months

Our Approach

Formerly the London Taxi Company (LTC) with more than 70 years of experience in manufacturing purpose-built taxis, its relaunch as LEVC marked the next stage in the company’s transformation. Underpinned by an investment totaling £325 million, LEVC intends to be the urban commercial vehicle provider of choice for cities around the world – with production of the new TX electric taxi.

The TX has been redesigned from the ground up to ensure maximum comfort, reliability and range. Every new component has been meticulously sourced. Each part has been developed to new engineering requirements, and the highest durability standards, from brake hoses to bumper brackets. More than 1,000 new jobs were created at the production site in Antsy, West Sussex.  

Embarking on its ambitious journey, LEVC originally looked to L3 MacDonald Humfrey Automation for an automated guided vehicle (AGV) solution but realizing the value we could bring to the project, LEVC soon commissioned our expertise to design and deploy a complete materials handling and automation solution across the entire purpose-built plant.

Following a successful competitive tender for the project, years of know-how and expertise in the automotive industry enabled L3 MacDonald Humfrey Automation to guide LEVC through its 12-month project from initial design to final commissioning.

Initially, L3 MacDonald Humfrey Automation carefully examined plans for the factory, rendered them in 3-D and incorporated significant improvements to increase efficiencies, save costs and lessen any risks before any controls or automation equipment was deployed.

Following software modelling, L3 MacDonald Humfrey Automation ensured the successful deployment and integration of the controls and automation throughout the production and sub-assembly lines.

The new TX is a bonded construction. Five automated conveyor systems allow operators to load parts into a nested pallet with an L3 MacDonald Humfrey Automation vision system checking that all parts are correctly loaded. After the parts have been checked,  pallets are  transferred automatically into robot cells that apply adhesive to all the parts, ready for operators to transfer them to the automated assembly line where the bonded body is constructed.

L3 MacDonald Humfrey Automation also supplied a system to convey geometric tooling skids - large pallets upon which the car is transported along the main production line.  Along this main line, subassemblies are applied using automated fixtures. The body is transported through both hot and cold cure lines where the first main sub-structure is baked in four ovens (the ovens were also under the scope of MHA) to cure the adhesive and form a rigid structure for cold cure operations.

On the cold cure line, robot cells apply a two-part adhesive to outer skin panels that are then applied to the structure using automated tooling. The finished car is then automatically geometrical checked in a CMM station integrated by MHA.

From the body shop, the TX is passed to the trim area into an automated storage and retrieval system supplied by MHA which provides a buffer between the two shops and allows random access to the pre-trim product line.

The product is automatically retrieved from this store and transferred into an overhead carrier. The overhead carrier is part of automated electric monorail solution provided by MHA. The carriers have an electrically driven pantograph system to provide automatic height adjustment with preset working heights for each production station.  Each carrier has on-board intelligence enabling each individual carrier to be separately controlled and adjusted to suit the needs of each working station and individual operations within each station.

The body is transferred to an AGV system (also integrated by MHA) carrying body handing tooling supplied by MHA. The body passes around a production loop where an MHA controlled automated robotic glazing facility applies adhesive to various glass panels to ensure uniformity of adhesive flow and provide a quality seal for each glazed panel.

The body is then transferred back to the monorail carrier and passed through an automated decking system to install and secure the power train and battery compartment to the underside of the vehicle.

Finally the monorail delivers the body to the first station of the final slat conveyor, where the wheels are fitted and the vehicle is automatically lowered onto a wide slat conveyor (supplied and installed by MHA) that indexes the TX through the final work stations where it is powered up and tested before being driven off the line as a finished product.

On August 1, 2017,  LEVC opened its order book for the all-new TX electric taxi, and in December 2017, the TX became fully certified to carry fare-paying passengers. LEVC predicts a revolution for passengers, who should expect unrivaled ride comfort, class-leading wheelchair accessibility, phone charging and a much more spacious cabin with six seats. Features also include wide-opening rear-hinged doors, power sockets for laptops, on-board Wi-Fi, contactless card machines and an expansive panoramic roof.

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