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Complexity-based task allocation in human-robot collaborative assembly

Ali Ahmad Malik (Mads Clausen Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg, Denmark)
Arne Bilberg (Mads Clausen Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg, Denmark)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 24 June 2019

Issue publication date: 5 August 2019

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1994

Abstract

Purpose

Over the past years, collaborative robots have been introduced as a new generation of industrial robotics working alongside humans to share the workload. These robots have the potential to enable human–robot collaboration (HRC) for flexible automation. However, the deployment of these robots in industrial environments, particularly in assembly, still comprises several challenges, of which one is skills-based tasks distribution between humans and robots. With ever-decreasing product life cycles and high-mix low volume production, the skills-based task distribution is to become a frequent activity. This paper aims to present a methodology for tasks distribution between human and robot in assembly work by complexity-based tasks classification.

Design/methodology/approach

The assessment method of assembly tasks is based on the physical features of the components and associated task description. The attributes that can influence assembly complexity for automation are presented. Physical experimentation with a collaborative robot and work with several industrial cases helped to formulate the presented method.

Findings

The method will differentiate the tasks with higher complexity of handling, mounting, human safety and part feeding from low-complexity tasks, thereby simplifying collaborative automation in HRC scenario. Such structured method for tasks distribution in HRC can significantly reduce deployment and changeover times.

Originality/value

Assembly attributes affecting HRC automation are identified. The methodology is presented for evaluating tasks for assigning to the robot and creating a work–load balance forming a human–robot work team. Finally, an assessment tool for simplified industrial deployment.

Keywords

Citation

Malik, A.A. and Bilberg, A. (2019), "Complexity-based task allocation in human-robot collaborative assembly", Industrial Robot, Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 471-480. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-11-2018-0231

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited