Robotized Aluminium Frame Production Starts in Poland
PODGRODZIE, Poland – The opening of the AG Motors aluminum frame factory in the East of Poland last week will contribute substantially to improve supply chain flexibility in the bicycle industry. With a capacity of 1,500 units per day and 400,000 annually this new, robotized factory can truly make a difference when it comes to the reduction of lead-times and speed-to-market for alloy (electric) bike frames.
Over one hundred national and international guests attended the opening ceremony of Europe’s second aluminium frame production facility last week. “For bicycle manufacturers in Europe we can reduce the lead-times from 180 days when sourcing in Asia to only 30 days,” explains, AG Motors CEO and owner Wiesław Marek. “We invested over 10 million euro in this research and development center and robotized factory.” The R&D center is co-financed by the European Union.
Source AG Motors
The new factory is fully in line with the Industry 4.0 philosophy focusing on quicker, more flexible and more efficient production processes using modern IT technologies in combination with high-tech research centers and robotized production lines. All stages for the production of the frames are housed on one floor. From tube laser cutting, welding on one of the six stations, QC, cleaning, sandblasting, anti-corrosion treatment and painting. The official ceremony took place in the only empty spot in the factory which will soon be filled with the hydroforming machinery.
The factory is a major innovation on its own as AG Motors is the first producer being able to manufacture a complete aluminium frame in one uninterrupted welding process. “The high level of automatization gives the possibility of implementing repeatability, a high production rate and, what is the most important, providing high quality of the final product,” explains Wiesław Marek. “We source our raw material, aluminium 6061 in Poland which gives us a full control over both the quality of the material and technology. This is a big step forward in creating the highest quality bike frames.” Currently the AG Motors facility employs 137 people.
The AG Motors frame production facility is combined with an in-house research and development center. The company’s design team is made of specialists in 3D modelling, MES analysis, designing constructions and devices, applied arts and product graphics. High-tech programs for design management and the most advanced IT infrastructure ensures quick performance of tasks. As an example of its capabilities AG Motors presented a what it names ’flex frame’ which will be produced entirely in Poland. “Our design center can develop frames from scratch for our OEM customers, including concept development, drawings and 3D modelling. Everything is done in-house, including virtual and real world testing.”
Rims and more
Next to the frames, AG Motors has also started in-house production of rims with a patented technology. This fully automatized production line has a capacity of 4,000 rims a day. “We now focus fully on frames and rims,” says Wieslaw Marek. “However in the near future we want to extend our range to other bicycle components like seat posts and handlebars. Currently we are also working on the development of the technology to mass produce composite frames. Hopefully we can establish a second bike valley here in Poland just like the one in Portugal.”
The R&D center as well as the robotized frame production has been developed in close cooperation with the AGH University of Science and Technology of Krakow and the Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Science of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Rzeszow University of Technology. At the opening ceremony, professor Waclaw Muzykiewicz of the AGH University of Science and Technology said “Poland is now considered a mid-level innovation country, below the average in the European Union. To change this we have to connect science to business. What we see here today is a fine example of synergy between the practical engineers of the industry and the theoretical researchers of the university. Our main idea is to develop and build bicycle frames which are more comfortable and weigh less.”
About AG Motors:
The company AG Motors was started in 2009. Initially the company worked on multiple projects like the construction of radial brake housing, a systems of steel taping for brake lines, bicycle frames ergonomics, reduction of weight of construction elements and creating prototypes of electric vehicles with propulsion systems. In 2016 AG Motors applied for a patent for a bicycle frame with a special rear wheel ‘flex’ suspension system as well as a patent for a bicycle rim. Early August 2019, AG Motors opened its own 6,100 m² production facility in the south eastern part of Poland.