Collaborative Applications in Manufacturing

On the 18th September 2017, HSSMI hosted the ‘Collaborative Applications in Manufacturing’ event in their London office. The event showcased the work that has taken place over the last year between HSSMI and their partners in the Collaborative Robot Industrial Working Group and Executive Steering Committee. The event also saw the launch of the Working Group’s report on the ‘Implementation of Collaborative Robot Applications in Manufacturing’ and brought together diverse industries and organisations to discuss the implementation and challenges of collaborative robots, as well as a wider discussion on where automation is headed.

Human-Robot collaboration is attracting a considerable amount of interest in the robotics industry. Unlike traditional applications where robots and operators are separated by fixed fences, collaborative applications enable overlap between robot and operator workspaces.
Collaborative applications can be implemented for varied industrial applications such as screwing, loading, assembling, etc., and are expected to ensure maximum value in ergonomics and quality improvement, line balancing, floor space optimisation and flexibility.
However, due to multiple constraints like cycle time, volume of production, flexibility and complexity of the task, the range of collaborative applications is limited and their wide scale implementation is currently limited by the low payload, the low level of risk, and the limited speed, particularly in the automotive industry, limiting potential productivity prospects.

To understand the root cause of this competitive disadvantage and to facilitate a safe, consistent and cost effective deployment of collaborative robot applications in automotive plants, the Working Group initiative brought together the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI) and three automotive OEMs: Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company and Nissan, supported by the Health and Safety Executive Committee and QED Safety Services.

The Working Group have accomplished the following:

• Provided a definition of a truly collaborative application and identified the differences to the standard collaborative modes;
• Developed implementation guidelines for truly collaborative applications along with guidance for risk assessment;
• Identified key applications for automotive manufacturing;
• Established key limitations for collaborative applications;
• Developed research projects to identify future technology enablers;

One of the key research initiatives to have been developed out of the Working Group is ‘Risk Assessment for Collaborative Environments (RACE)’. RACE is a feasibility project to develop a health and safety focused tool that will simulate the path of the collaborative robot and the path of the Operator to assess whether there are any potential hazards detected. Should you wish to know more, please contact Nahema.sylla@hssmi.org

HSSMI are also pleased to announce their new service offering ‘CoBot Design and Certification’ which is an end to end service aiming to virtually assess, optimise and validate a collaborative application prior to physical installation. The business benefits of this service are the reduction of risk and an increased return on investment due to a full, virtual validation of the potential application. Should you wish to know more, please contact Victoria.tewes@hssmi.org

To access a full copy of the ‘Implementation of Collaborative Robot Applications in Manufacturing’ report, please visit http://hssmi.org/portfolio-items/implementation-collaborative-robot-applications-report-industrial-working-group/