Meet the PeneloPe Demonstrators! PeneloPe encompass representative large-part manufacturing in four EU strategic sectors, addressing both one-of-a-kind (Oil&Gas, Shipbuilding) and low-volume manufacturing (Aeronautics, Bus&Coach). VDL is leading the implementation of Bus&Coach pilot-line by addressing the manufacturing of bus modules. Learn more about VDL below:
VDL Bus & Coach:
The core activities of VDL Bus & Coach consist of the development, manufacturing, sales and after-sales of a wide range of buses and coaches, the conversion or extension of mini & midi buses and the purchase and sales of used buses. VDL Bus & Coach consists of multiple bus companies that operate cooperatively in the global market. Manufacturing takes place in Western Europe. VDL Bus & Coach places high value on quality, safety, durability, the environment, low fuel consumption, comfort and low maintenance costs. In the transition to zero emission transport, VDL Bus & Coach offers turnkey solutions and is not only bus supplier but also system supplier.
Sales of VDL Bus & Coach products take place through a worldwide network consisting of corporate-owned sales offices, importers, and agents in more than 30 countries. For after-sales and maintenance, the client can count on rapid, hassle-free assistance from VDL Bus & Coach employees in any of the many service locations. An extensive distribution network ensures that spare parts and accessories are delivered to the requested destination as quickly as possible. VDL Bus & Coach is one of the largest bus and coach producers in Europe.
VDL Bus & Coach is part of VDL Groep. This international industrial company focuses on the development, production and sales of semi-finished products, buses & coaches and other finished products and the assembly of cars. The headquarters are in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Since the founding in 1953 this family-owned company has grown to include 105 operating companies, spread over 20 countries with approximately 15,000 employees and an annual turnover of 4.686 billion euros in 2020. The strength of VDL Groep lies in the cooperation between the companies.
Role in PENELOPE
By 2025, three quarters of all buses in public transport will be electric, and more and more city councils believe that zero emissions should be the norm in the near future. Against this background, VDL Bus & Coach is taking the next step in its ‘Aiming for Zero’ objective: a new factory especially for the new generation Citea EV-bus is being built in Roeselare Belgium, where the buses will be produced in a CO2-neutral environment from the beginning of 2023.
With this in mind, VDL Bus Roeselare participates as one of the end users in PENELOPE and together with LMS (our follow-up RTO) leads the activities in the Bus & Coach pilot line and coordinates the integration of activities of partners in this pilot line. The aim is to create worker-centric solutions for the production and manipulation of large parts by using tomorrow’s technology and considering the different bus designs and variants.
Currently, the buses are integrally built on a long assembly line. This means that all materials are fed to the various production stations along this line and built into the bus. As a result, an assembly line is composed by over 30 stations. This leads to long lead times for engineering and manufacturing, complex processes that demand a lot of craftsmanship and long training times. Additionally, it takes a lot of effort to build in customer-specific requirements, and the accessibility during assembly is often not optimal, which means that employees have to work in difficult ergonomic positions, and the dependence is very high on specific quality issues.
The new generation Citea consists of an integrally designed product family based on a modular system architecture. Each module has 1 or more basic versions that are made customer specific through standardized options. PENELOPE will promote the usage of worker-centric solutions in order to address specific manufacturing challenges. Robotic solutions, such as High Payload collaborative robot, cable robot and mobile manipulators enhanced with cognitive capabilities, will facilitate the handling of the large and heavy parts. Task and action planning tools will ensure an even distribution of workload between human and robotic resources. At the same time, exoskeleton devices will help operators performing non-ergonomic tasks. On-line quality control of the various processes involved (pre-treatment, gluing, assembly, etc.) will be ensured via a distributed sensors network and AI based modelling. In-situ repair methods will facilitate the repair of damaged composite panels prior assembly. Finally, AR assisted production will be promoted, providing support by superimposing virtual elements over real ones.