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Made in Northern France: Premium grippers from Bilsing Automation

08 Jul 2015 |

Innovative technology has made Northern France a major automotive region in France and Europe-wide. Valenciennes-based Bilsing Automation France is a major contributor to the region’s success, using the latest technologies to design and produce cutting-edge “robot hands” for automakers.

High-tech grippers play an essential role in auto manufacturing

“You need about 120 parts to make the body of one car, and you need six or seven grippers per part. That adds up to a lot of grippers per vehicle. When a carmaker comes out with a new model, they keep the old ones for spare parts, but you really do need new ones,” says Romain Bournet, Managing Director at Bilsing Automation France. And that’s just one indicator of Bilsing’s huge market. The German company’s Valenciennes facility has many French clients—including Renault, PSA, Faurecia and Plastic Omnium—but customers outside France account for nearly 90% of its sales, or about €25 million in 2014.

Saving clients time and money

For Bilsing, the goal is to create grippers, or “robotic hands,” that pick up parts, bring them to the assembly line and attach them to the vehicle—and do it all as efficiently as possible. A specialist in designing and manufacturing grippers for the automotive industry, Bilsing uses 3D simulation to speed time to production. With this new technology, highly accurate simulations can now replace prototypes, allowing customers to test assembly lines virtually and determine production speeds in advance.

We’re the company’s biggest design center, and the only one that uses simulation," says Romain Bournet. Bilsing provided all of the studies for a new Jaguar assembly line, and will continue to supply equipment to the prestigious automaker through 2030. The Valenciennes plant also works with UK-based Rover and is currently designing future equipment for Renault Douai. “We create the line in 3D and simulate the part movements. When the equipment is installed, all the customer has to do is download the software.”

Grippers save automakers significant amounts of time, shrinking the average customer adjustment period from 40 hours to only four, with internal savings estimated at €500,000.

Innovation Process Award

Bilsing’s outstanding performance earned it the 2015 Innovation Process award at this year’s Productivez! ceremony. Organized annually by French professional organizations Symop, Gimélec and Cisma, the Productivez! awards recognize companies that are energizing French regional industry by investing in the production equipment of the future. 

Source: Bilsing Automation, La Voix du Nord

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