Automation and Robotics have been described as two of the enabling technologies for the Industry 4.0 paradigm, especially the use of autonomous and collaborative robot systems that can work together with humans and other machines. In manual assembly for example, these so-called co-bot systems (that also includes autonomous transportation and specialized machines) can improve the automation level, product quality, as well as human working conditions. However, in order to fully benefit from co-bot systems, many challenges need to be addressed before it can be introduced in complex industries e.g. the truck industry. This paper presents a number of challenges and requirements identified during an industrial use case, where autonomous co-bot systems have been introduced into an existing manual assembly station. These requirements are related to safe and intuitive interactions, smart tools, the need to manage variability as well as the need for highly flexible communication and control. During the use case, a number of initial solutions was developed where the implemented control architecture was based on the framework Robot Operation System (ROS) and Sequence Planner (SP).
Advancements in human-robot collaboration (HRC) are regarded as major aspects of the future Industry 4.0. HRC entails humans that cooperatively work with fenceless robots in dynamic, changing, and unpredictable settings where they should assist and learn from each other. Because of the prevailing orientation towards human factors, HRC runs the risk of not considering the modern understandings of user experience (UX). It has been acknowledged that the safety aspect is a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving acceptance of and trust towards the robot companion. Hence UX aspects are also needed in HRC. This paper addresses several perspectives on human-centered evaluation in HRC, and presents the envisioned evaluation framework of HRC, which focuses on safety, trust and operators' experience when interacting closely with different collaborative robots. The final outcome from this work should, in the long run, function as a roadmap for successful implementation of HRC in industry.
Industry 4.0 aims to support the factory of the future, which involves increased amounts of information systems and new ways of using automation. One new usage is collaboration between human and industrial robot in manufacturing, with both partners sharing work on a single task. Supporting human-robot collaboration (HRC) requires understanding the requirements of HRC as well as the differences to existing approaches where the goal is more automation, such as in the case of self-driving cars. We propose a framework that we call levels of collaboration to support this, and posit that this framework supports a mental model conducive to the design of lines incorporating HRC.
Rapid in-process 3D measurement of physically large components with complex shapes presents a challenging problem in modern industrial manufacturing. Although various robotic vision systems have been explored to provide the solution required for flexible and reconfigurable in-process 3D measurement, there is a key issue in its adoption due to the level of measurement accuracy that is achievable. Since this issue is directly linked to system calibration, it requires a rigorous error sensitivity analysis to ensure reliable and robust control of manufacturing processes. This forms the basis for the investigation reported in this paper. In particular, the paper focuses on practical and inherent measurement uncertainties in calibration of a robotic vision system. Starting from a brief review of popular approaches which have been proposed for hand-eye calibration between the robot and the camera, possible sources of uncertainties are identified and discussed. Based on a series of computer simulations carried out, the paper shows the impact of uncertainties on the results of hand-eye calibration for a robotic vision system, and provides the testing methodology as well as the statistical information required for selection of an appropriate calibration approach to achieve in-process 3D measurement with a higher confidence level.
Our present work aligns three results from previous robotics research in simultaneous kinesthetic teaching of spatial and force/torque requirements for “in-contact” tasks, to highlight the endeavor towards the creation of safe, flexible, cost effective, confidential, natural programming interfaces, a crucial tool for the manufacturing domain of the future. The tasks that we here consider overarch different dimensions of complexity, from writing with a marker on a white slate to using a wood plane. Eventually, incrementally assisted kinesthetic teaching (IAKT) allows human experts to refine their demonstrations under modulated robotic assistance, thus converging, by a limit process constituted of a sequence of sub-perfect individual demonstrations, towards the “ideal” crafting intention, i.e. the humanly unreachable, perfect execution of the task. In the closing discussion, we demonstrate how this approach can find space in contemporary industrial and SMSE manufacturing, in order to aim for improved production quality and performance.
Despite manufacturing sub-components to a high precision, large over-constrained assemblies are often impossible to assemble to tolerance limits when variations are present. This necessitates expensive and time consuming variation management processes at assembly, such as shimming. Existing research has not established a methodology to model the variation propagation mechanisms that results in this assembly variation. This paper presents such a methodology, which has the ability to quantify the assembly variation of over-constrained assemblies at the planning stage, providing useful data for determining the most appropriate combination of fabrication and assembly processes to use for a given case. The methodology is validated using an aerospace wing spar assembly, and a sensitivity study completed to rank the key variation drivers in the over-constrained assembly.
Assembly systems are complex due to mass customization. In order to be able to produce a variance of products a well functional information system is vital. Companies need a digital strategy in order to design adaptive systems to increase flexibility and usage of information support systems (IS-Systems) among operators. In case studies from Swedish industries, it is shown that operators often use their own experience when assembling products. This paper aims to describe how a digital strategy can be developed, combining IT-systems and IS-system to create dynamic systems for operators. The paper will combine two methods, MEET-model that has been used to improve meeting situations but could also be used to create digital strategies at companies. An additional use of the Delone and McLean model will be used to create the bridge between the IT-system and the IS-system. Results show that combining these models gives a clearer and broader view of the digital strategy and a possible bridge between IT- and IS-developers to create a better and more dynamic shop-floor IT system.
This study is motivated by a real-world assembly line in an automotive manufacturing company and it addresses the simple assembly line balancing problem type-E (SALBPE). The SALBPE aims to maximize the balance efficiency (BE) through determining the best combinations of cycle time and station number. To cope with the problem, a mixed integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) model is proposed. The MINLP model differs from the existing ALBPE models as it includes the technological requirements of assembly tasks and optimizes the variation of workload beside the BE. The validity of the proposed model is tested by solving the real-world case study and a set of benchmark problems.
Intelligent disassembly process planning is a relatively new approach to deal with the end-of-life (EOF) products. Demands for recycling and remanufacturing EOF products, limitation of the natural resources and new environmental regulations make an efficient disassembly process vital. The main problem to find an efficient plan for disassembly process is that the number of possible sequences rises dramatically with the number of the parts and makes it NP-hard type problem. An effective method to optimize the disassembly sequences is using genetic algorithm (GA). In this work, a genetic algorithm method based on robotic disassembly process was successfully used to optimize robotic disassembly sequence of a case study product.
Product design in the aerospace manufacturing lifecycle requires the management of micro and macro levels of information streams within the product lifecycle management (PLM) systems. However, PLM information streams require access to data often overwhelmingly large and complex and need organising to make the best of it toward improving product design specifications. In order to make a direct connection between the information relayed from the manufacturing processes (such as in the event of defects) and any subsequent relevant knowledge, knowledge management approach is applied through the approaches related to data, information and knowledge structuring in order to be used to improve the product design specifications and ultimately reduce defects. This project investigates the use of various data from PLM systems within a large UK based aerospace manufacturing company BAE Systems, Electronic Systems, in order to connect the information streams related to manufacturing defects to product design activities towards a better facilitation of Design for Manufacturing (DFM) for the use of design engineers. The approach is further evaluated and developed into a working ICT tool at the collaborating company using case studies on real components used within their facility.
Hot and cold drinks on the go are always required by everyone. However when poured these may be extremely in convenient to the person to carry it. The usual cups for pouring such drinks are not sufficiently insulated for the user. This research is being conducted to design and develop a cup holder which may be held in a keychain and used as and when required to provide convenience of carrying drinks. Market and internet literature resources were surveyed but no such holder was found. Therefore research on this product design is considered as a unique opportunity to serve users. In this research a new product will be designed, its materials selected and a prototype produced to assess its utilization. The techniques usually covered in a typical product design and development course at undergraduate level were reviewed and applied throughout the process of this product design. Business opportunities likely to be created, customer needs, concept design, selection and development processes were adopted to arrive at the final product. It was observed that if learners are provided an opportunity to explore customer needs for a specific product they could get a hands on learning experience and come up with innovative ideas to satisfy the need through applying their theoretical knowledge.
Life of a professional in any part of the word is getting busier every day. It leads to taking food and drinks on the go by these people whether its breakfast or even dinner time. The hot drinks normally get cold and the person is unable to enjoy these. In the market electric heater do exist but either they are not portable to the size of a Mug or these may limitations of heating of a power source availability. Therefore a research was conducted to develop a unique Mug for hot drinks that may carry rechargeable batteries. Therefore it could be used at home, office or in the car. The techniques usually covered in a typical product design and development course at undergraduate level were reviewed and applied throughout the process of this product design. Business opportunities likely to be created, customer needs, concept design, selection and development processes were adopted to arrive at the final product. It was observed that if learners are provided an opportunity to explore customer needs for a specific product they could get a hands on learning experience and come up with innovative ideas to satisfy the need through applying their theoretical knowledge.
Drinks cannot be enjoyed without a specific quantity of sugar content according to the taste of a person. However exact amount of sugar used by individuals is hard to measure while pouring it in a hot or cold drink. Sugar sachets have been in market over the past century with varying designs and contents. These have a specific quantity of sugar which is normally poured by the user in a cup. A spoon is needed for stirring; which if not available on site may cause inconvenience in stirring as well as a distaste of drink due to excessive or low sugar content because the users are unable to control the exact quantity of sugar according to their taste. Present research was conducted to design a sugar stick which can have the possibility of controlling grams of sugar a person may like to use for any drink. It may also be used as a stirrer due to its unique design. It will be especially useful for in-flight meals and other industrial applications such as in hospitals, restaurants, homes and social gatherings. The techniques usually covered in a typical product design and development course at undergraduate level were reviewed and applied throughout the process of this product design. Business opportunities likely to be created, customer needs, concept design, selection and development processes were adopted to arrive at the final product. It was observed that if learners are provided an opportunity to explore customer needs for a specific product they could get a hands on learning experience and come up with innovative ideas to satisfy the need through applying their theoretical knowledge.
Putting on lights is an inconvenient task for people during the night at homes as well as businesses especially when they are not aware of the exact location of switches. In recent past a lot of research has been done on developing wireless controlled lighting fixtures all around the world. It has resulted in availability of a large number of products in the market which can be controlled by Wi-Fi systems. Everyone is a mobile user these days and is well versed with use of blue tooth and Wi-Fi applications. Researchers have made use of this ability of educated as well as novice users to design and develop controls of the lighting fixtures through a mobile. At this time we a have a number of products available in the market using Wi-Fi as well as mobile phone applications for domestic and commercial buildings. Present research is a compilation of product information and their functions. It is based on latest literature in this area as well as some of the products in the market to create awareness of users for this unique application. The techniques usually covered in a typical product design and development course at undergraduate level were reviewed and applied throughout the process of this product design. Business opportunities likely to be created, customer needs, concept design, selection and development processes were adopted to arrive at the final product. It was observed that if learners are provided an opportunity to explore customer needs for a specific product they could get a hands on learning experience and come up with innovative ideas to satisfy the need through applying their theoretical knowledge.
Parametric CAD software is the primary development tool for the design engineer during the product development process. However, industrial parametric CAD models are often constructed in a manner that leads to inefficiencies during subsequent product development activities. Despite the availability of Model Quality Tools (MQTs) these ‘poor’ quality models can currently only be accurately identified using time-consuming and subjective auditing from experienced users. The project aims to develop a more robust solution, using measurable part characteristics, to predict the efficiency level of these CAD files.
Employee performance is a key asset for any organisation and its success. In small and medium enterprises, the employee performance is even more critical, and controlling it and further improving it can be a challenge. Continuous improvement initiatives can help with the employee performance as well as the senior management commitment. The focus of the present paper is the impact of the various leadership styles in sustaining and improving the employee performance in SMEs. A thorough literature review is presented focusing in reviewing the various types of leadership styles employed in SMEs in developing countries. A questionnaire is used for capturing the current state with regards the employee performance and the role of leadership in manufacturing SMEs in UAE.
Research and development spending is in decline in the United Kingdom; given this, user-led innovation may be a viable option to substitute this reduction. User-led innovation has been a subject of academic study for over a decade; this form of invention has been spurred on in recent years by the increasing use of online communities and the burgeoning availability of cheap tools such as the Raspberry Pi single-board computer. Combined with the nascent rise of the Maker Movement, this form of innovation can lead to working prototypes for industrial products developed within home and workshop settings. Furthermore, this innovation scenario can be given added stimulus by the use of competitions. But how can the innovative capacity and performance of online communities be assessed and improved? By looking at three innovation contests hosted by the electronics distributor Premier Farnell in collaboration with industrial partners, this paper will demonstrate the basis of a new methodology for uncovering these measures, and propose a set of analytical tools for consistent measurement. The suggested toolkit uses data to look at conversational density and flows, that is, the frequency of communication between community participants and the direction of information sharing, the skillsets of the online community population, the knowledge exchanged between participants, and the motivations of the participants engaged in contest activity. The paper proposes that the more conversant a community is, i.e., the more willing members are to engage in information exchange, the greater its innovative capacity.
Working postures and movements affect work efficiency and musculoskeletal health. To reduce the biomechanical exposure in physically demanding settings, working techniques may be improved by giving instant ergonomic feedback to the operator. This study investigates if feedback can be used to decrease adverse postures and movements in assembly work. A prototype solution of a smart textile workwear was used on a trainee assembly line. Posture and movement signals of 24 trainee operators were sampled via the workwear, transferred to a tablet for analyses and used to provide feedback suggesting improvements of work technique. Two modes of feedback were tested. Every participant's work technique was measured before and after receiving the feedback and the results were compared. For upper arm elevation angle ≥60°, behaviour change is indicated, supporting a positive work technique change, and indicated a future usefulness of technical automatic feedback for operators.
Robots in human co-habited environments need human-aware task and motion planning, ideally responding to people's motion intentions as soon as they can be inferred from human cues. Eye gaze can convey information about intentions beyond trajectory and head pose of a person. Hence, we propose eye-tracking glasses as safety equipment in industrial environments shared by humans and robots. This paper investigates the possibility of human-to-robot implicit intention transference solely from eye gaze data. We present experiments in which humans wearing eye-tracking glasses encountered a small forklift truck under various conditions. We evaluate how the observed eye gaze patterns of the participants related to their navigation decisions. Our analysis shows that people primarily gazed on that side of the robot they ultimately decided to pass by. We discuss implications of these results and relate to a control approach that uses human eye gaze for early obstacle avoidance.
The physical world is being transformed by Industry 4.0 initiatives to digitize data, process, and interface. Knowledge sharing in these highly dynamic manufacturing environments, such as smart factories or smart warehouses, is crucial to help train new employees and reduce costly down-times. In this paper, the authors propose MARCRAT, a Mobile Augmented Reality based Collaborative Real-time Annotation tool, which enables on-site personnel to annotate information directly onto any smart ubiquitous devices. The user-created content is contextually relevant and will be stored and synced to other MARCRAT installed devices in real-time. A web-based editor has also been developed to help non-experts transfer device model files into augmented reality experience.
This paper presents an experimental study aimed at investigating interaction effects affecting personnel in manual assembly. The main experiment with 36 subjects used a mixed method design which included a quantitative study, including time and errors as dependent measures, and a qualitative study, including workload ratings and a questionnaire. The overall task in the experiment was to assemble components on a pedal car. The main factors involved were assembly information (text & component numbers or photographs), material presentation (using structured kits, unstructured kits and material racks) and component variation (situations with and without component variation). It was found that performance, measured in assembly time, was best when combining photographs with no component variants and when using an unstructured kit.