Written by Kfir Kedem – March 15, 2021
Reviewed by Asaf Kedem
Unicorn startup Arrival has unveiled its first van along with its innovative manufacturing strategy. The van will be electric and was developed with the help of an investment from UPS. This investment guaranteed UPS 10,000 Arrival vans upon production, which is supposed to be happening some time in 2022. The specifications of the van are given below:
The van body panels are produced in a Microfactory out of composite fabrics. A Microfactory, as opposed to a Gigafactory, is a small warehouse that has several production cells in it. Each cell has its own manufacturing task, with the main goal of making the production processes as compact and efficient as possible. For example, the body panel trimming cell has several molds that are placed around a robot arm. In the video that Arrival has released of their factory, the trimming robot arm utilizes a single tool with two of the body panel molds standing as walls. The molds then turn 180⁰, which enables the robot arm to continue working on even more pieces while remaining in place.
To facilitate the movement of parts, Arrival uses an AMR (Autonomous Moving Robot). This robot moves the panels from the very first cell of the production all the way until the last cell where it will then become a finalized product.
Furthermore, the body panels are made completely of composite fabric. Rob Thompson, Arrival’s Chief of Materials, stated that the manufacturing process of the panels can be compared to a mixture of materials manufacturing and textile manufacturing. The result is a more ductile final product that is able to handle more force in the case of a collision than the average metal body panel would. The unique composite that Arrival has chosen allows them to recycle all the material that is discarded during the manufacturing and use it to build other panels. Thus, there is zero material waste in the process.
Auto Trendy’s take:
It’s great to finally see the specifications of the Arrival van after months of ambiguity that followed the news of UPS’s investment. The production methods that are being used by Arrival make sense for their type of vehicle. It is dynamic and allows for quick factory redesigns as the production volume grows. Using AMRs is only a small factor in the overall efficiency of the Microfactory. When it comes to sustainability, Arrival is able to get full use out of their materials. This may seem like an effort to save the planet, but more than that, it is extremely cost saving to be able to use the full material that is paid for rather than using only a part of it and paying extra costs for its disposal. The Microfactory is the perfect place for their commercial vans to be produced and one can only imagine how its production efficiency will continue to increase.