Become a ReconCell Test-Case with Open Call

Join the ReconCell Project for up to 3 Months with a financial frame of up to 85,000 Euro

As an SME within the EU you have now the chance to participate in the EU project ReconCell (Reconfigurable automated assembly workcell). This Fall (2017) there will be an Open Call for interested companies, that would like to share their manufacturing challenges and have their product assembled by the ReconCell workcell.

Soon, the ReconCell workcell will be fully realized and the three experiments within the project will be running in a lab environment. Those current experiments are focusing on:

After finalizing these experiments, the ReconCell project intends to apply more experiments for the assembly of various products. To verify the ReconCell concept on the widest range of products, an Open Call for end-users running an assembly experiment will be established. As a test case in ReconCell, SMEs will receive up to 85,000 Euro for their participation and will have the chance to:

  • get their product(s) assembled by the ReconCell in a Lab environment

  • learn about the possibilities of setting-up a ReconCell in their production

  • gain valuable knowledge about the underlying business advantages for their company

  • work together with ReconCell’s engineers on how to operate and e.g. easily program and reconfigure the ReconCell

  • become a frontrunner for robot-based automated solutions with the possibility to shape the future design of the ReconCell

A more specific Open Call description, including examples for application experiments, will be published in the following months. ReconCell, together with I4MS, will provide webinars to prepare potential applicants for the application process.

ReconCell invites all manufacturing SMEs to apply for the Open Call. All SMEs that meet EU criteria for participation in the project will be evaluated. The main evaluation criteria will be quality and efficiency of implementation as well as potential industrial impact. The timeframe for the experiment will be up to 3 Months, with a financial framework of up to 85,000 Euro allocated for supporting the SME´s participation in each experiment.

Follow this link and sign up to receive information about the Open Call when it launches:

Open Call

Make sure to also also follow the LinkedIn account for more information:

Collaborate with Your Customers in a Buyer Driven World

Over the last few years the automation investment decision process and buying behavior has been changed significantly. Manufacturing companies with easy access to vast amounts of information, are now much more empowered and knowledgeable. They became driver of investment decisions and contribute on solution development process. In this environment, collaboration with buyers has been considered as an effective selling methodology and mindset where providers as trusted advisors, assist the buyer in identifying needs and offering solutions within their relationship.

The web-based digital platform, BATool, is used to connect a robotic solution with its potential customer base at an early stage, to support providers in the initial customer communication. BATool will help a provider to coordinate knowledge and communication between partners, to reduce the lead maturity complexity, facilitate project documentation, avoid missing information of projects and decisions, geographical market expansion and minimize unnecessary traveling. This will make a provider competitive on the market compared to other industrial robot suppliers.

The BATool was recently tested in Hannover Messe 2017, in Germany. The BATool campaign module included during the test two robotic solutions: ReconCell and FlexHex. The intend was to present the advantages of ReconCell and Flex Hex using the online collaborative environment of the BATool. Thus, assisting the users to calculate their business case of using the robotic solutions. Moreover, the system was also set to gather information about Open Call applicants by requesting prospects contact information and scenario specifications. The gathered data was then forwarded with an online routing in the backend architecture to the back office for further evaluation.

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For Flex Hex we used the BATool to give visitors the possibility of gaining greater insight to the product and identify their need. Visitors could get access to videos, photos, specification and calculate their ROI if they integrate the Flex Hex Robot comparing to their existing solution. All this, just by scanning the brochure or the QR tag on the stand. This provides great flexibility if don´t have possibility to get a one-to-one contact to the visitor. For us, it gives the possibility to registering whom have visited our stand and now we can take the dialogue onwards.

Laurent Marquis, CEO, Flex Hex

BATool provides a collaborative environment by its online forms, checklists, product illustration, workflow calculators etc.; and by utilizing this the BATool assists a potential customer in evaluating requirements and the viability of robotic projects.

We look forward to running the BATool at more exhibitions and campaigns and for more products in the future.

You can read more about the BATool here: business-assessment-tool.com

Reducing Set-Up Times by Designing Grippers in Simulation

In the last 5 years, a method for learning fingers for industrial grippers has been developed in a co-operation between SDU-Robotics and Bialystok Technical University. By this method, cumbersome work on gripper generation, which is a severe obstacle for the fast set-up of robot solutions, could be transferred to simulation.

The figure shows an industrial gripper with fingers learned by the new approach. In this work an objective function for gripper evaluation is derived and then optimized by means of numerical optimization methods. The approach has been evaluated on a variety of real world applications (Wolniakowski et al. 2016) and is currently applied in to a number of industrial use-cases in the ReconCell project. Adam Wolniakowski, who has been supervised by Prof. N. Krüger from SDU-Robotics and Prof. Zdzisław Gosiewski from Białystok Technical University, has defended his PhD successfully on the 10th of November 2016. A description of the approach has just been accepted for a journal paper (Wolniakowski et al. accepted)

References

A. Wolniakowski, A. Kramberger, A. Gams, D. Chrysostomou, F. Hagelskjær, T. N. Thulesen, L. Kiforenko, A. G. Buch, L. Bodenhagen, H. G. Petersen, O. Madsen, A. Ude and N. Krüger. Optimizing Grippers for Compensating Pose Uncertainties by Dynamic Simulation. IEEE International Conference on Simulation, Modeling, and Programming for Autonomous Robots 2016.
A. Wolniakowski, K. Miatliuk, Z. Gosiewski, L. Bodenhagen, H. G. Petersen, L. C. M.W. Schwartz, J. A. Jørgensen, L.-P. Ellekilde, N. Kruger. Task and Context Sensitive Gripper Design Learning Using Dynamic Grasp Simulation. Accepted for Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems.

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Figure 1.

Full Automatic Workcell Calibration

Calibration between cameras and robots is a difficult problem in many robot vision applications. At University of Southern Denmark we have been busy developing a new method for full automatic workcell calibration. The method we have developed is very user-friendly in the sense that the user is not required to know anything about calibration, cameras and robot control, and the user will be able to calibrate an entire workcell only with the click of a button.

In the ReconCell project the userfriendliness of the calibration method is of great importance, especially when the workcell has been reconfigured to solve a different task, then it might also need to be re-calibrated. The method calibrates the extrinsic parameters of the robot and camera, while it also calibrates the intrinsic parameters of the robot which includes the full Denavit-Hartenberg parameters and Encoder offset.

The calibration method supports multiple types of cameras. You can calibrate both stereo and mono cameras. Multiple types of robots are also supported. Currently we have tested the method with UR5, UR10 and KUKA LBR iiwa. We are now working intensively to extend the calibration method to also support camera-in-hand calibration, where the camera is placed in the robot hand instead of a static placement in the workcell, which is important for quality inspection applications.

Currently the user interface of the calibration method has been implemented in RobWorkStudio (see figure 2), and we are working on integrating a VEROSIM user interface for the calibration method. Furthermore we are working on performing an extensive validation of the method, so far we have performed simple tests with a laser pointer attached to the robot and a checkerboard placed in the workcell. The camera would then detect the four corners of the checkerboard, and the robot would move the laser pointer above the four corners with some known offset. (see figure 1)

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Figure 1.
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Figure 2.

White paper on ReconCell workcell design

Summary

Several innovations are being developed, implemented and tested as part of the ReconCell project. Reconfigurable fixtures that use a passive Gough-Stewart mechanism enable several different workpieces to be manufactured in the same robotic workcell. The frame of the cell is made of square steel beams connected by special joints. The joints are very stiff, require no welding and are disassemblable. Peripheral application specific elements can be added to the cell using the plug and produce connector. The connector transmits power, Ethernet and pneumatics as well as providing mechanical coupling. An innovative linear unit enables the motion of the robot base. It is unactuated therefore the motion is powered by the robot itself by attaching it’s tip to a fixed point. This significantly reduces costs as no actuators or measuring equipment is needed. The innovative concepts show great potential in making robotic cells modular and reconfigurable. To further confirm the benefits of the proposed innovations more use cases from different industrial backgrounds have to be tested.

White paper

Link: Reconcell workcell design.pdf

ReconCell started its second year

The developments are getting more and more interesting, so this blog will become more active in the following weeks and months. We plan to keep you up-to-date with our latest results and more information about what's new in the project.

Novel Hardware Design

The main results of the first year include a novel reconfigurable hardware design and software architecture for automated robot assembly. We developed new fixtures called hexapods, which are unactuated Gough-Stewart platforms with six degrees of freedom. They have raised great interest at the Automatica 2016 fair in Munich (http://automatica-munich.com/). These fixtures are the building blocks in our novel modular and reconfigurable frame design, which allows easy adaptation of the workcell configuration. Another feature contributing to easy reconfiguration are also the new plug & produce connectors that standardize how a group of modules is connected. Further components that contribute to cheap and automatic reconfiguration are the novel passive linear units that allow us to increase of the robot’s work envelope significantly. We showed in our concept that our workcell can be partially automatically reconfigured to a variety of configuration and use cases.

ROS-based Software Architecture

To drive the passively reconfigurable hardware elements with the robot and carry out a variety of assembly tasks, we developed a ROS-based software architecture that supports communication between all hardware components. It consists of several ROS nodes that implement the basic communication infrastructure and user interfaces. Other nodes can be added based on task requirements, for example “vision module” and “digital interface unit”. A special Simulink-based real-time server was developed to enable efficient robot control. Besides standard industrial trajectory planning technologies, our workcell supports also new advanced trajectory planning techniques based on dynamic movement primitives. These are the basis for learning and adaptation technologies supported by our system, which are essential to increase the number of tasks that can be accomplished without extensive additional programming.

Currently we are applying our system to a number of use cases provided by the industrial partners of the project (ELVEZ, Precizika Metal, LogicData). Stay tuned for more news about exciting new assembly tasks that can be accomplished by the ReconCell.

Here you can see the video from our booth at Automatica, where the robot successfully reconfigures the hexapod and inserts a peg into the hole. This is done using advanced control methods that use the forces that occur during insertion to adapt robot motion.

ReconCell at Automatica fair

ReconCell project to present its results at Automatica fair in Munich, Germany, from June 21st-24th

This year Automatica (Int'l Trade Fair for Automation and Mechatronics) takes place in Munich, Germany, from June 21st-24th. At the fair ReconCell will present some of the key elements of its reconfigurable workcell for fast setup of automated assembly processes. A robot demonstration of an example reconfiguration process that supports fast changeovers of product types will be shown. Besides the robot demonstration, ReconCell will present its design of reconfigurable fixtures, a simulation system for setting up new assembly processes, and an innovative plug-and-produce interface.

European Robotics Forum 2016 Workshop

Efficient robot programming, force control and passive reconfiguration technologies for fast set-up of robotic workcells

Day 3, 23rd March 2016

Rapid changes in market demands lead to decreasing product life cycle times and also more frequent products launches. An enterprise has to react fast, efficiently, and in an economically justified way to market changes. More frequent changeovers in product type or in a number of products require new engineering and production methodologies and machinery equipment to enable shorter set-up times of production environments.

Robots as highly flexible devices have been successfully utilized in many industrial production processes. However, companies are still reluctant to employ robots for many types of tasks. The main hindrances are complexities involved in setting-up robot-based automated solutions because these usually require expert knowledge and also significant time for testing and fine-tuning. Looking at robotic systems in more detail, we can recognise that these problems are due to the long time needed to re-configure and reprogramme the robot workcell for a new production task.

The goal of this workshop is to find out how technologies such as efficient robot programming, sensing, and passively reconfigurable elements can contribute to faster set-up times of robotic workcells. We plan to make the round table discussion available either in video form or as a short report available on the workshop webpage. The results of the workshop will elucidate what technologies are needed to shorten set-up times of robotic workcells and where more research is needed in the future.

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