AUTOnomous co-operative machines for highly RECONfigurable assembly operations of the future

Several industrial sectors today are still using linear sequences of operations where the same manual and automated tasks are repeated in each cycle. This paradigm is efficient when aiming at maximum capacity and considering no breakdowns, but very inefficient in case of line de-saturation. AUTORECON proposes the enablement, development and introduction of: • Autonomous, exchangeable and mobile production units which can change tasks and position in the shop floor. • Highly interactive robotic structures. • Random production flow. With all of these integrated under a common and open architecture. The factory of the future as envisaged by AUTORECON encompasses: • Reconfigurable transformers like tools that enable autonomous assembly equipment which can adapt production process to process disturbances and market variations. The concept integrates novel actuators, end effectors with multiple connection points and advanced sensing capabilities as well as mobile robotic units, fostering efficient multi-variant production. • Intelligent Control & Monitoring systems enabling enhanced performance and high reconfiguration abilities using distributed controls. AUTORECON unit control will fuse data coming from a peripheral sensing network to allow resource awareness of disturbances. At the line control level a service oriented architecture will enable: • Autonomous communication between resources for deciding on adaptation actions • The effortless integration of new equipment. A demonstration in the automotive industry will involve the live reconfiguration of an assembly line in the case of a simulated breakdown. The AUTORECON intelligent control will evaluate alternative actions (e.g. use of mobile robotic units etc.) and select the optimal one. A second demonstration in the consumer goods industry case will use the AUTORECON reconfigurable grippers and sensing network in order to pick randomly placed components and route them by using cooperative robot handling.
More information
Duration: 36 months
Start date: 01-10-2011
End date: 30-09-2014
Number of participants: 10
Total budget - EC contribution: 5070682 Euro - 3399485 Euro
Call topic: Cooperative machines and open-architecture control systems (FoF.NMP.2011-2)
Instrument: Small or medium-scale focused research project

Use Case Requirements and Lessons Learned - (No information available)  

Challenges - (6)  

      1. Comment: Reconfigurable hardware and control software allows to reprogram the operation of the factory.
      2. Comment: Flexible and reconfigurable hardware coordianted by intelligent control software
        1. Comment: Reprogrammable robots, reconfigurable tools and mobile robots are reusable in their life-cycle

Digitalisation pathways - (No information available)  

Diverse - (No information available)