Bloss, R. (2012), "Human and robot collaboration presentations at the CIRP Conference on Assembly Technologies and Systems", Industrial Robot, Vol. 39 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/ir.2012.04939faa.002Download as .RIS
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Human and robot collaboration presentations at the CIRP Conference on Assembly Technologies and Systems
Article Type: News From: Industrial Robot: An International Journal, Volume 39, Issue 6
At the recent 4th CIRP Conference held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a number of papers were presented on the benefits of optimizing collaboration between humans and robots in manufacturing tasks. When industrial robots first arrived on the manufacturing scene many decades ago, the thought was that robots could do everything better than the human.
Decades later, researchers are finding that collaboration between the two can often produce better product and at a lower cost. At the CIRP Conference, six technical papers were presented on man-machine collaboration. Here is a brief review of two of these papers. For more information on all of the 45 papers presented at the conference, please see the major feature on the conference in Assembly Automation.
Optimizing the welding of steel frames
Welding large, heavy steel frames together can be a tough and awkward task for a human. But researchers have found that just using a robot welder does not provide the right quality. Researchers at TU Dortmund University presented a paper on their efforts to obtain the best of both human and robot benefits through collaboration (Busche et al., 2012, pp. 151-4).
By creating a system using a pair of robots to accurately position the steel frame pieces at a comfortable location for optimum human welding they obtained the best from both “partners” (Figure 3). Their development combined safety for the operator, ideal welding positions and efficient handling. They employed off-line simulation in their implementation. They also outlined future research planned to address consideration of the effects of heat and other inaccuracies of the kinematic system to achieve the optimum system design.
Improved wiring harness fabrication with collaboration
As manufacturing has moved to more product models in smaller batch sizes moving along the same production line, the fully robotized production model is proving less and less efficient. The human is proving to offer improved flexibility and adaptability to many robotic assisted operations. Researchers at the National Institute of Informatics and the University of Tokyo have cooperated on development of human robot collaboration in assembly (Tan et al., 2012, pp. 155-9).
By developing a task based modeling framework, they have been able to analyze and simulate the collaborative process. They have found that not only is the benefit more efficient production but other benefits have occurred such as faster training of new workers. The researchers developed a wiring harness production station to demonstrate their findings (Figure 4).
The production station takes into account many safety considerations and included an in depth safety assessment. The safety provisions include human mental safety resulting from working so close to the moving robot, as well as physical factors. Photoelectric cells, a light curtain and a vision system combine to maintain safe operations. Should an emergency occur, indicators signal the operator to identify the error source and help him recover so work can continue. Future studies were outlined to further optimize the collaboration work model.
Richard BlossAssociate Editor