Sheet metal assembly is investment intense. Therefore the equipment needs to be efficiently utilized. The balancing of welds has a significant influence on achievable production rate and equipment utilization. Robot line balancing is a complex problem, where each weld is to be assigned to a specific station and robot, such that line cycle time is minimized. Industrial robot line balancing has been manually conducted, based on experience and trial and error rather than mathematical methods. However, recently an automatic method for robot line balancing was proposed by the authors. To reduce robot coordination cycle time losses, this method requires identical reach ability of all line stations. This limits applicability considerably since in most industrial lines, reach ability differs over the stations to further line reach ability and flexibility. Therefore, in this work we propose a novel generalized simulation-based method for automatic robot line balancing that allows any robot positioning. It reduces the need for robot coordination significantly by spatially separating the robot weld work loads. This is furthermore achieved at a cost neglectable to line cycle time. The proposed method is furthermore successfully demonstrated on an automotive stud welding line. Moreover, algorithm CPU-times is a mere fraction of corresponding manual optimization times.

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