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Workstation configuration

The objective of this work package is to provide novel methodologies for the design and configuration of RLW assembly stations, taking into consideration the pre-selected conventional welding workstations in WP1 (e.g. single RLW station can perform the same joining operations that have been done by two other RSW stations). These methodologies will explore and provide alternative configurations of the system which will be built on quantified flexibility, productivity and cost efficiency targets. WP3 will tackle the configuration aspects of the RLW Navigator by providing intelligent tools to systematically generate possible configurations of the station, simulate and validate their production capabilities by using state of the art tools (e.g. Delmia) and finally, by validating against user defined multiple criteria.

This work package mainly focuses on the configuration selection of RLW workstations, which will be addressed in two steps, namely a) the selection of equipment and physical layout of the station; and b) the determination of optimal assembly operations (e.g. robot path programming, reconfiguration actions etc.).



Task 2.1 Workstation Layout Configuration

Task Leader:SZTAKI

Participants: Warwick, UP, JCL, LR, Stadco, Comau, ES

The introduction of RLW processes in stations, where it has not been tested and used before, requires the careful design and configuration of the assembly station in order to ensure that all the flexibility and performance potential of the RLW technology is fully exploited (Figure WP2-1, Part B). Towards this direction, this WP will provide novel methodologies for the design and configuration of RLW assembly stations, taking into consideration the pre-selected conventional welding workstations in WP1 (e.g. single RLW station can perform the same joining operations that have been done by two or more other RSW stations). These methodologies will explore and provide alternative configurations of the system which will be built on quantified flexibility, productivity and cost efficiency targets. WP3 will tackle the configuration aspects of the RLW Navigator by providing intelligent tools to systematically generate possible configurations of the station, simulate and validate their production capabilities by using state of the art tools (e.g. Delmia) and finally, by validating against user defined multiple criteria.

This task mainly focuses on the configuration selection of RLW workstations, which will be addressed in two steps, namely a) the selection of equipment and physical layout of the station; and b) the determination of optimal assembly operations (e.g. robot path programming, reconfiguration actions etc.).

Examples of the main expected outcomes are:

  • Development of 3D simulation models (e.g. DELMIA)
  • Generation of station configurations - selection of equipment and physical layout of the station
  • Generation of station configurations - determination of optimal assembly operations

 

Task 2.2 RLW Robot Simulation & Off Line Programming

Task Leader: SZTAKI

Participants: Warwick, Comau, ES

This task focuses on building simulation module that is capable of addressing the problems of OLP robot programming. The Off Line Programming (OLP) starts with the semi-automatic detection of features to be manufactured, then addresses the path planning problem of the synchronously guided robot and scanner joints with special respect both to speed and dynamical performance of the robot (which influences the accuracy of the path). This also includes the sequencing of elementary welding operations, determining the robot's placement relative to the car coordinate system; determine the placement of stationary and external process equipment (external TCP), relative to the robot or the work piece reference frame. Beside the path planning issues the Off-line simulation must handle issues of:

  • Semi-automatic recognition of manufacturing features from the CAD model
  • Transport of fixture, pallets and work piece within the station including sequence of loading parts into fixture (manual or with robot)
  • Transport of pallet with work piece(s) in and out of station
  • All interactions between the equipment in a station within the cycle time
  • Handling of work pieces from and to racks
  • Geometry and handling grippers
  • Kinematic motions of clamps, cameras, locking pins etc.
  • All robot motions
  • Collision check

The offline programming & simulation module will lead to the development of new modelling techniques that can be extended to the functionality of the state- of-the-art solutions (Delmia). These algorithms should prepare the ground for the error budgeting and compensation calculation. Examples of the main expected outcomes are:

  • Development of RLW specific path planning algorithms
  • Optimisation of Path
  • Validation (Simulation)
  • Developing communication interface between simulation module and RLW Navigator
  • Extending the workstation layout model with parameterised workstation models

 

Task 2.3 Workstation Level Performance Evaluation

Task Leader: UP

Participants: Warwick, EPFL, JCL, LR, Stadco, Comau, ES 

This task will focus on the evaluation of the developments in the workstation configuration (Task 2.1), process design (WP3) and process control (WP4). The existing metrics and Key Performance Indicators for the benchmarking of RLW Navigator solutions at workstation level will be identified and new metrics for the evaluation of RLW based assembly stations will be developed. The metrics that will be selected should be able to provide a clear aspect of the configuration capabilities in terms of time, cost, quality, flexibility and environmental efficiency. The evaluation activities will focus mostly on the:

  • Benchmarking of assembly station configurations with respect to the existing state of the art assembly systems
  • Integration of evaluation procedures within the simulation and process verification activities.

The outcome of the task will be a software module of the RLW Navigator evaluation platform, called "Workstation Layout Configuration Wizard (WL-Config wizard)", capable for the evaluation of each workstation configuration that will be created within the project.

Workstation Configuration Evaluation: The evaluation of the identified RLW workstation configurations from Task 2.1 will be tackled in Task 2.3 by creating an iteration loop between the two work packages. In this case, indicators such as: the number of models produced in a station, the time a new variant is introduced in one line/station, energy consumption (Task 5.2), CO2 emissions (Task 5.2) etc. will be utilized for evaluating the performances of the proposed assembly setups. Foreseen activities include:

  • Evaluation of robot trajectory planning activities using multiple criteria
  • Definition and integration of time, cost, flexibility and environmental impact criteria
  • Development of software modules for integrating these criteria in the existing simulation packages

In line with the environmental awareness concepts that the project promotes, the evaluation activities will be enriched by the introduction of advanced environmental impact quantification techniques (LCA etc.). To integrate the platform with the RLW Navigator design tools that will be developed in WP3, software interfaces will be created that will allow the automated evaluation of configuration alternatives according to the user's specified metrics.

Process Design Evaluation: The process design (fixture design, process parameters etc.) resulting from the error budgeting analysis (WP3), will be evaluated and validated within this Task. The evaluation will be performed by benchmarking the design having resulted from the project, with the state of the art of the RLW in Body in White applications as well as with other automotive assembly operations. Specific metrics will be set for the assessment, having stemmed mainly from the project's objectives.

Process Control Evaluation: Benchmarking activities for the process control systems developed (vision systems etc.) will be performed. Performance indicators, such as the time required for process adjustment (recognition and compensation), reconfiguration time in case of part change, as well as indicators, regarding the final product and weld quality, will be used to compare the systems' performance developed with respect to the existing technologies.

Examples of the main expected outcomes of this task are:

  • Workstation configuration evaluation
  • Process design evaluation
  • Process control evaluation.

 

Close interaction and work across work package 2 and 3 have developed the following:

 

Software Integration

Demostration 

If you would like more information on this aspect of the research dscribed on this page please use the contact details here to identify and contact the work package leader.

 

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RLW Navigator is a three year, €3.9M, project funded by the European Commission under the ICT-Factories of the Future programme.  The project has fourteen partners and began in January 2012.

The goal of the project is to develop an engineering platform for an emerging joining technology from the automotive industry, Remote Laser Welding (RLW), that will enable the exploitation of this technology and ultimately support other joining processes.

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