Industrial automation has evolved to a stage where numerousother technologies have emerged from it and have achieved a status of theirown. Robotic automation is one such technology which has been recognized as aspecialized field of automation where the automated machines have some humanlike properties 1.
The RoboticIndustries Association (RIA) defines an industrial robotic manipulator asfollows: “An industrial robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulatordesigned to move materials, parts, tools, or specialized devices throughvariable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks” 2.Industrial robots are employed to automate a wide range ofprocesses which are generally too dull, dangerous or dirty for human operators.Moreover, advance robotic manipulators have enabled us to achieve new levels ofprecision, accuracy, repeatability and productivity which are of primeimportance in many modern engineering applications. Robotic automation ismostly used in the following industrial applications: · Assembly· Machine Tending· Welding· Material Removal· Material Handling· Palletization and De-Palletization· Vision InspectionIt can be inferred, from the above definition, that arobotic manipulator enables precise motion along a pre-defined trajectory.
Buta complete robotic automation solution involves much more than just achievingdesired movements. Each application has its own special need, leading to acomplicated design, simulation and configuration process, which makes roboticintegration very cumbersome and time consuming. Selecting the right robotic arm, peripheral equipment andend-effector has critical importance. Material handling in a press line, forexample, requires highly customized end-of-arm tooling with suitableend-effectors, with or without special functions, to perform the desired task.
Additional functions like automatic tool changing, required for higherflexibility, make the integration process even more complex. With newapplications emerging every year, it becomes very important to developstandardized methodologies for designing, configuring and integrating robots inorder to keep project cost and time under control. The following section describes the motivation andobjectives of this thesis project.
1.1 Research MotivationThe advent of Industry 4.0 has greatly affected themanufacturing industry. The full impact of the fourth industrial revolution onthe manufacturing world is yet to be discovered.
But it can be considered as a futuristicmodel of growth and development which would lead to the creation of “smartfactories”. These factories of the future would be characterized by a highlevel of wireless connectivity and data sharing between machines through thepower of IoT. Another salient feature of these factories would be modularphysical structures which could be replicated in the virtual world to controland monitor processes to make decentralized decisions. In order to achievethis, a high degree of standardization of manufacturing equipment is needed.Robotic automation has been identified as one of the keytechnology drivers of the fourth industrial revolution.
Therefore, industrialrobots will play a major role in realizing the factories of the future. Asintroduced earlier, the process of integrating robotic equipment in aproduction process is slow and complicated due to the highly specialized natureof its configuration. Robotic arms, peripheral equipment and end-of-arm toolshave a strong dependence on the application.
This is a problem as it causesdifficulty in managing automation projects effectively ultimately leading todelays and cost overruns. Hence, there is an immediate need to developinnovative solutions to standardize the robot configuration and EOAT designprocess without compromising on flexibility and customization.1.2 Aim and ObjectivesWithin the scope of this thesis, titled as “Definition andcreation of robotic automation modelling- and configuration-kit for compositeforming functions”, the primary objective is to create standard pre-configuredconstruction modules for easy definition and design of robotic automationfunctions used in the composite forming industry. The secondary objective is todevelop a configuration tool for easy configuration and project costcalculation.
This modelling and configuration-kit aims to reduce thevariety of different components and functions required to configure a roboticautomation function in a fully automated production line for a more effectiveproject process and reduced design and startup work.The tasks defined in this thesis project are as follows:· Assimilation of compression molding processesand robotic automation functions used in a Dieffenbacher composite productionline.· Definition of standard EOAT sizes and masses forrobotic loading, unloading, stacking and de-stacking functions.· Definition of standard robot categories based onload calculations for about 70% of all robotic applications at Dieffenbacher.· Creation of robot peripheral constructionmodules.· Definition of a standard EOAT structure and creationof standard EOAT construction groups and modules.· Designing interfaces between standard modules.· Finding ideas and specifications for developinga configuration tool.· Developing the configurator application.· Testing the configurator with past projects astest cases.