ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs
Today’s European industry faces the challenge to achieve flexibility and efficiency in order to improve its competitive position in the world market. There are numerous industrial applications where the processes are performed by human operators due to the fact that a) operations are too complex to be automated, b) operations require a human like sensitivity, c) handled materials are different and often show a compliant, unpredictable behavior and d) often more than one operators are needed to perform parallel operations. Nevertheless, the automation of operations in manual assembly is highly demanded so that quality levels are increased in terms of precision and repeatability, throughput time is decreased, traceability of the operations is allowed and in the meanwhile the workload for the operators is reduced. However the advantages of industrial robots are not exploited in their full potential within the EU production plants due to poor acceptance. The main reasons why SMEs do not adopt robots according to the International Federation of Robotics involve the lack of flexible equipment for dexterous operations and the absence of user friendly programming techniques and interfaces to allow maintenance and operation by non-expert users. In this context EUSMART aspires to overcome these challenges through the following objectives.
Objective 1: 3D visual guidance system with high accuracy: This objective will focus on the integration of a 3D visual robot guidance system with high precision, supported by a library for identifying a variety of small screws and small features (e.g. holes on blades). The results of the image processing algorithms will be the 3D coordinates of the manipulation points, as well as orientation in a working table, based on features detection on the images using a high speed industrial camera, as well the pattern analysis using sophisticated real-time computer vision tools.
Objective 2: Intuitive programming tool for highly reconfigurable robot tasks: The focus will be on the development of an intelligent system for automatic generation of robot paths based on the input data that are provided from 3D CAx files. This will improve the assembly planning of non-robot-ready assembly sequences. The development of algorithms for the features recognition on the CAx type files, will be part of processing, so that the initial robot position can be taught. The robot program will be created using an interface where the programmer can select the target objects.
Objective 3: Adaptive force control for sensitive assembly processes: The fine tuning of robot position around the insertion areas for small parts such as pins and screws will be the main focus. The adaptation of the robot in the low-structured environment will be achieved by force sensing, given the fact that sensing the objects and compensating the tolerances is important for the accurate pins/screws insertion. Different methods and sensors for force sensing will be considered. The adaptive force control module is essential for achieving high accuracy and not damaging the product.
Objective 4: Synchronization and control framework: The synchronization and control framework will focus on integrating in a common communication architecture the different modules of the system for increasing the system flexibility. The visual guidance software, the adaptive force control module, the tools and grippers control, the peripherals control, the robot motions adaptation and the intuitive programming tool will be gathered in this objective. An open source architecture based on Linux operating system and ROS (Robot Operating System)- for the cases that real time is not required - will be used for managing and synchronizing the different modules.
The end user driven tasks come from 2 end users: a) Pins insertion in turbine blades (EMA) and b) Screws insertion on a vacuum cleaner (LOCCIONI). These cases will be evaluated in the same setup demonstrating the universal character of the EUSMART developments.
ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs