- Niels Lohse (Loughborough University)
- Matthew Chamberlain (Loughborough University)
- Phil Ogun (Loughborough University)
- Zahid Usman (Loughborough University)
- Richard Kingston (Manufacturing Technology Centre)
- Stefan Winkvist (Manufacturing Technology Centre)
Led by The Manufacturing Technology Centre Ltd, we enter the Challenge as a mixed team representing both academia and industrial research.
The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation based at Loughborough and Cranfield Universities has the overall aim of researching the means of automating processes that are currently considered to be difficult to automate, and in doing so reducing product variability and quality issues that sometimes arise from human involvement. The Centre has expertise within manufacturing automation, engineering knowledge generation and management in both manufacturing and human factors. The Centre has extensive experience in the establishment and execution of multidisciplinary initiatives with industry.
The MTC’s objective is to work with its research partners to develop and demonstrate innovative manufacturing technologies from academic solutions to production ready solutions that allow industrial companies to bring about major improvements in their competitiveness. The principle behind the MTC is to bridge the gap between academic research and commercial production to meet industry’s needs. This allows the MTC to provide a high quality environment for the development and demonstration of new technologies, using industrial-scale equipment and, thereby, ensure fully capable processes are transferred from the academic to the industrial world with minimal risk.
The EPSRC CIM-IA brings together a leading range of academics and PhD students with expertise in a number of key automation fields. These are complemented by state of the art equipment and research facilities. The Centre has expertise in working with optical and laser scanning systems to carry out 2D and 3D feature recognition and object mapping and then using this data to carry out path planning based upon vision feedback and CAD information. Recent work has included the recognition of bolts and threaded holes to find pick up points and carry out assembly tasks with a 7DoF robot arm. Research work also includes gesture and hand recognition, recovery from unplanned movements. The Centre has researched the controlled assembly of features whilst maintaining the relative position and orientation of components. This includes force feedback control of two arms maintaining relative position to each other.
The MTC’s Intelligent Automation team draws on over 200 man years of industrial automation experience across a wide range of industries. Through the combination of manufacturing, automation, controls and design engineers, MTC takes an innovative yet realistic approach to manufacturing automation challenges. Recent examples of this work include the lead demonstration work package of the FP7 LOCOMACHS project, advanced industrial robotic controls (including ROS-Industrial) for multi-arm robotic applications, metrology assisted robotics to increase overall manufactured accuracy and the application of robotics to complex fabrications and assembly tasks. MTC has over GBP 5 million of industrial scale automation hardware for development and demonstration work.