Friday, 31 August 2007 17:00

Frame Systems Special Section: Innovative Vehicle Straightening Solutions

Written by Autorobot Finland Oy
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As a company, Autorobot Finland Oy specializes in modern car and commercial vehicle straightening solutions. The products and services cover the entire range of straightening equipment, measuring solutions, 3D measuring data and compre-hensive service and support operations worldwide. Autorobot has more than sixty international patents with a support network that includes the new center of excellence in California.

    Autorobot’s business philosophy is to be the leader in car straightening solutions and share the new innovations and industry’s best practices with end users. Customer input has resulted in new innovations and improvements in car straightening technology (such as pull/push/support (PPS) technology, remote control usage in straightening, and new microsurgery technology used in car repair).

    The time it takes to anchor vehicles is critical. Optimal anchoring time brings the best results. Autorobot has innovated instant block fastening –  a process in which the vehicle is driven (or winched) on the bench, lifted up with an incorporated scissor lift and blocked in place by using only lift pads and support bars. The first pulls can be started almost instantly. This method is available with Autorobot straightening benches and it expedites repairs of light collision damages.

    For heavier collision repairs, Autorobot recommends its patented one-bolt sill clamps. Set up time is reduced to only a few minutes, and the holding power provides a stable grip for demanding multipoint pulls/pushes. The tightening of only one bolt accomplishes two functions, locking the sill clamp to the vehicle pinch weld and to the bench at the same time.

    For SUVs and pick-up trucks not having a pinch weld, Autorobot offers the Starblock fastening system. The base Starblock frame is standard and only the tie down heads are specific to the vehicles (such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz) or universal pick-up/SUV/van mounting head kit. Using the same basic fastener frame saves money, because only a few vehicle-specific heads are necessary. This is effective in reducing total repair time and the cost of investment.

Access to vehicles

Another important feature of the Autorobot straightening benches is access to all parts of the vehicle. The construction does not have jigs or a large table-type platform to hinder access to the vehicle. The scissor lift provides optimal working height – no need to crawl and kneel on the floor, and lowering the height allows the same easy access to the roof of the vehicle. Furthermore, this open structure facilitates examining and inspecting the underside of a vehicle to allow quick diagnosis.

    Professional collision repairers know that effective pulls form only a part of the work. Autorobot’s modern straightening solutions make simultaneous PPS possible, speeding up and simplifying the repair process. The PPS can be targeted to the damaged area only, and hold the undamaged parts in the correct position. With additional support bars, one can hold new replacement components in the right position prior to welding, riveting, and gluing

    PPS technology allows simultaneous actions,  making the repair work faster. The same tower can be used in multiple operations at the same time without changing its direction. Putting the clamps, chains and push bars in the right locations is easy, since no extruding frame components impede access to critical places.


Microsurgery in vehicle repair

Actual straightening of a frame can be  done by using PPS technology and applying microsurgery. In the project vehicle, the BMW 500, E60, 22 mm. holes were drilled at the frame bending point in the outer surface of the frame. Push with the micro repair tool is directed to the frame inner surface at its bending point. The frame beam is simultaneously pulled forward at the outer end by a pulling tool which aligns the frame beam. After the operation, the drilled aluminum access holes are covered up with welded aluminum caps. The small aluminum cap welding did not cause any disturbing thermal changes.

    The difference between traditional straightening and microsurgery is that straightening can be done without removing the vehicle mechanics and parts. Original riveting could be retained when the frame was straightened along with other vehicle parts remaining in their original condition. In addition, the repair did not weaken the frame structure.

    PPS forces affect only the damaged areas and straightening forces do not progress into the outside structures. Microsurgery straightening saves working time and is recommended for vehicles made of steel.

Remote control

A new wireless technology applied in the Autorobot B20 with radio control is designed to make auto body repair quicker and easier. Using remote control in the straightening process provides a whole new technical level that may attract a new generation of younger people to the autobody repair industry.

    The PPS functions and table movements can be controlled from the hand-held remote control panel. The wireless radio control also improves the work safety and speeds up the straightening work. The safety is increased when the body shop floor is free from hydraulic pumps and hoses. The straightening becomes faster, negating the need to go back and forth to use the hydraulics, and more accurate by using the small radio control panel that is always at hand – in a pocket or hanging from a neck band.

Measuring made easy

    Diagnostics and pre-measuring can be simplified by using Autorobot’s digital tram bar, the measurements of which can be incorporated with Autorobot proprietary vehicle data sheets and measuring software. The quick measuring can be done anywhere – in a parking area, or ergonomically on the Autorobot lifting bench. Measuring a few points outside the visible damage area illuminates any hidden transformations caused by secondary or indirect movements.

    The technician can store the measuring data before and after the repair and provide a report to demonstrate the work quality to the vehicle owner and the insurance company. The entire vehicle, both under body and upper body, can be measured with the same equipment without re-calibration.

Autorobot tools

Autorobot has developed a comprehensive line of universal tools to be used in the straightening process. Patented single clamps, double grippers, PPS tools and storage applications are available from Autorobot distributors to provide the finishing touches to the Autorobot investment.


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