2019: Product development of material supply - Implementation of karakuri kaizen

Yanni Porteiro Paraponiaris and Arturo Mateos Rodríguez in collaboration with Volvo Group Trucks Operations, Skövde.

Volvo Trucks is one of the biggest heavy-duty truck manufacturers in the world. Mainly, their engines are made in Skövde, Sweden, where the project has been performed. Currently, Volvo must face, each generation, the fact that their truck engines tend to augment in complexity, production volume demand increases, and customization has been added as an option for marine engines. These factors have made extremely important to streamline the use of their production areas, components handling and material supply (i.e. the pursuit of a ‘LEANER’ production).

To streamline the material handling of a specific assembly station at VOLVO GTO. This optimization will be conducted through the design of semi-automatic, low cost, self- propelled solutions. The project is deeply inspired in Karakuri Kaizen, which refers to the concept of substituting electrically powered and computer-controlled devices by a purely mechanical system. The present design involves a considerable reduction of energy consumption and time wasting in Volvo Trucks' production.


Three prototypes have been provided along the duration of the thesis, increasing the level of definition in each one of them. The first prototype was constituted of a 3D mock-up, that helped the team to establish preliminary measurements of the concept chosen and how the components where assembled. As a second prototype the team built the first real scale model, made with rougher materials, in order to prove the basic principle of the concept. Finally, the aim of the third and final prototype was to provide a factory-ready solution, that could be implemented in the assembly line.