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Scientists at Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing a new assembly automation process that makes industrial robots significantly easier and faster to program, as well as a collaborative and safe assembly workstation for riveting applications.

September 2015
Scientists at Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing a new assembly automation process that makes industrial robots significantly easier and faster to program, as well as a collaborative and safe assembly workstation for riveting applications.
The programming and positioning of a robot system for assembly tasks is highly complex. Not least for those reasons, many assembly tasks continue to be executed manually, especially in the case of small production runs or custom-made components.
Now used for the first time for industrial processes, a method from the field of robotics research makes it possible for assembly tasks to be automated more efficiently than before. For this purpose, the programmer first models the process and workpiece/process parameters, such as the workpiece dimensions, in a general form so that the assembly task is available as a sequence of process modules. Next, the programmer assigns variant-specific values. Based on these values and using current sensor data of the relevant workpiece, the system can execute the process modules as a sequence of tasks, similarly to an easy-to-follow work plan. End users benefit from the fact that, once modelled, tasks can be transferred to other systems.
The need to program task variants as well as the setup effort for small production runs are extensively eliminated. Together with the experts from Fraunhofer IPA, system integrators can automate challenging assembly tasks more easily, faster and at lower cost than before.
The scientists are also developing a workstation for joining processes, at which a human can manually execute difficult tasks while a robot system takes care of repetitive, strenuous tasks. The system is integrated into a mobile tool cart and can be docked with the manual workstation when required. This allows the assembly tasks to be optimally shared according to ergonomic and economic criteria.

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