“Some operators would miss certain features of the part, resulting in rejects being passed through inspection,” says Trevor Lipsey, launch coordinator at Royal Technologies. “Now we catch anything that is of poor quality. To summarise, it has improved speed, quality and overall performance.”

MODULAR CELL MACHINE TENDING Machine tending is one of the most common cobot applications. Yet despite widespread use, according to Universal Robots, each application requires a somewhat customised robot cell to unlock the full value potential. UR partner, Vention accelerates the time-to-

market for such systems with its fully customisable machine tending cells. One example is Vention’s machine tending drawer system that holds parts for a UR5e cobot to pick for machining. Compared to a tray set-up, the drawer system extends the period of autonomous machine tending, as the UR5e simply pulls out a new drawer with more stock once the first drawer is emptied. Vention also makes use of the UR10 cobot, which

uses the company’s MachineMotion controller. This enables the cobot to control up to three external drives/actuators in parallel directly from the Universal Robots pendant, including ball-screw actuators, belt-driven actuators, rack & pinion actuators and rotational indexers. According to Vention’s Patrick Halde, Universal

❱❱ The miniPAL palletising robot with cobot arm can be used autonomously or in cooperation with human operators, above; the attended UMA inspection workplace makes use of a cobot arm to guide the inspection process and project images onto the part, left; a machine tending cobot from Vention can autonomously attend workstations with optional operator interventions

For performing the inspection process, it uses 3D scanners added to the end of UR5e and UR10e cobot arms for advanced Scan-to-CAD comparison and inspection capabilities, including GD&T (geometric dimensioning and tolerancing). As an aid to inspectors and quality technicians

that work with the machine, a 3D Infotech projector is mounted on the cobot arm, projecting inspection results back onto the part through the company’s Spotlight AR++ software, an augmented reality solution that guides operators through workflows and provides visual instructions directly on to the part. In this way complex or low volume components can be compared to the 3D CAD blueprints directly at the workstation, with images projected onto the part itself. A recent UMA station customer, Royal

Technologies, needed to scan a wide range of parts.

Robots and Vention are working towards lowering the automation barrier by reducing upfront investment in time and resources, and accelerating time-to-market. This provides manufacturers with easier access to cobot technology without the need to develop in-house expertise. “We allow our common customers to get from design to fully functional robot cells in a matter of days,” says Halde.

PERVASIVE TECHNOLOGY These examples of production assembly, inspection and distribution demonstrate the pervasiveness of cobots as the technology now comes to the fore across the manufacturing industry to combine human operations with automation in novel ways. This has become possible and more accessible in

part due to the trend towards the use of software products, APIs and plug-and-play concepts like the UR+ enabling software infrastructure from Universal Robots. UR+ is certified for plug-and-play integration with

UR cobots and is growing rapidly, now featuring over 200 UR+ products with more than 400 companies in the UR+ developer programme. Vention is one example of a company that employs this approach with its cloud-based 3D CAD that allows users to easily design, simulate and commission a complete robot cell in as little as three days. According to Stu Shepherd of Universal Robots,

the constant innovation in the use of collaborative robots throughout industry is being enabled by such products as the UR platform. “This is a great testament to the versatility and relevance of the technology,” he concludes. T&TH

April 2020 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 23

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