Motivation

 

The importance of assembly in Europe

Manufacturing is the backbone of the European economy, generating an added-value of 1,630 billion Euros performed by 2.1 million enterprises.

Assembly is the most labour-intensive part of manufacturing because many challenges that prohibit the use of available automation solutions clash. To name just a few:

  • order-related small batch sizes
  • many variants due to assembly being the last step in the manufacturing chain
  • lots of different parts and assembly processes

Therefore, many manufacturing companies decided – and still decide - to shift their assembly lines to low wage countries such as China, India and Vietnam causing the loss of many jobs in Europe. To stop this job drain it is crucial to support European manufacturing industries with automation solutions aligned to the requirements of assembly.

The direct final outcome of LIAA will be five working co-worker solutions to diverse industrial assembly use cases and a strong unifying framework providing a basis for future co-worker solutions.

 

The limitations of assembly automation

Automatic assembly systems are used when large batch sizes over a long time justify high investment costs. In contrast, manual solutions are applied when batch sizes are small or circumstances unpredictable.

Hybrid assembly systems try to bridge the gap by combining manual and automatic stations to achieve a balance between investment costs, batch size and flexibility. Hybrid systems can be adapted to changing batch sizes in the medium and long term, e.g. during ramp-up of a new product, by either adding or removing automatic stations. But hybrid systems cannot be adapted on a daily basis e.g. on changing order volumes.

Robots, as highly flexible machines (in terms of motions and programmability), would be very valuable here, but today’s robot setup have been developed mainly for large scale production where the setup phase is negligible compared to the operation phase which typically lasts several years.

Therefore, today’s robot installations are part of automatic or hybrid assembly systems but offer no flexibility gain. LIAA will overcome this automation barrier by developing means to use robots in assembly workshops in symbiotic cooperation with human workers.




Symbiotic human-robot-cooperation

Symbiotic human-robot-cooperation aims at combining the advantages of robots for achieving high productivity in structured environments and the capability of humans to adapt quickly in unstructured environments.

Humans do the ambitious jobs requiring advanced sensing and reasoning capabilities to adapt to unplanned or unforeseeable situations while robots make use of their ability to handle high loads with high precision without depletion.

To make the most of these respective strengths human and robot will work in close cooperation using the same workplaces, tools and fixtures. Robots and humans in the same loop reduces the need to invest in expensive equipment to help the robot cope with an unstructured environment, and at the same time avoids strenuous and repetitive work that wastes the human capabilities and damages the human body.

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News

30.03.2017

Website of "Hybrid Production Systems" launched

2017-03-30 17:00 CET

The website of the workshops "Hybrid Production Systems" has been launched here.

This website is dedicated to gathering and disseminating the presentations of the...read more

Category: news

06.02.2017

4th Workshop on Hybrid Production Systems

2017-02-06 15:00 CET

The eighth edition of the European Robotics Forum will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK from the 22nd till the 24th of March 2017 (http://www.erf2017.eu). Within this...read more

Category: news

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07.11.2016

LIAA Integration Workshop

Date: 2016-11-07 to 2016-11-11

Type: internal meeting

Venue: Patras, Greece

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Category: Events, futureEvents

14.11.2016

LIAA 8th General Assembly

Date: 2016-11-14 to 2016-11-15

Type: internal meeting

Venue: Patras, Greece

 

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Category: futureEvents, Events