Editor choice


Gearbox maker SEAT stays ahead of the game with Cobot Automation

Barcelona-based SEAT Componentes supplies critical gearbox parts to Volkswagen plants across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Their manufacturing expertise ensures smooth, quiet performance in vehicles carrying the VW, Audi and Skoda nameplates.


With up to 18,000 precision machined gears needing daily inspection and transport for gearbox assembly, SEAT sought to automate what had been an entirely manual materials handling process. Goals included reducing product defects, mitigating safety issues around heavy lifting, and containing long term operating costs.

Rather than turnkey automation, SEAT tapped its internal talent to design and integrate a solution leveraging 10 collaborative robots (cobots) from Universal Robots. Technicians had positive prior experience deploying UR cobots for shotblasting and washing duties. Their flexibility, ease-of-use and small footprint made them an intuitive fit once again.

Over two phases, SEAT tech teams first trained online and in person with Universal Robots experts. A pilot project then validated feasibility - showing the cobots could complement human workers without major facility renovations or safety cages. With successful testing complete, the real optimization work began.

Tailored programming and custom end-effector designs allowed the cobots to gently grasp and transfer machined parts smooth as butter. Meanwhile, freed from repeat heavy lifting, inspectors could focus purely on catching potential defects. Additional roles like application configuration could also be handled by SEAT staff rather than relying long term on costly external integrators.


The UR cobot solution delivered on all fronts when fully operational:

  • Mitigated worker fatigue and injury risk through automated transport
  • Reduced handling errors and associated scrap expenses
  • Minimal space claims thanks to compact, maneuverable cobots
  • Contained upfront costs relative to major automation revisions


Preserved SEAT ownership over change management rather than dependency on outside robotics expertise

With its factory of the future primed for growth, SEAT again shows ingenuity and precision worthy of the Volkswagen name. Their lean approach to solving a discrete challenge - amplified by collaborative technology - has upstream benefits resonating all the way to the end consumer. All while keeping business securely in gear whatever curves may come.

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