Skip to comments.Smart Robots Can Now Work Right Next to Auto Workers
Posted on 09/17/2013 9:12:09 AM PDT by markomalley
BMW has taken a huge step toward revolutionizing the role of robots in automotive manufacturing by having a handful of robots work side-by-side with human workers at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
As a new generation of safer, more user-friendly robots emerges, BMWs man-machine collaboration could be the first of many examples of robots taking on new human tasks, and working more closely alongside humans. While many fear that this trend could put people out of work (see How Technology Is Destroying Jobs), proponents argue it will instead make employees more productive, relieving them of the most unpleasant and burdensome jobs.
Robots have been a part of automotive manufacturing for decades. The first industrial robota hulking 4,000-pound arm called the Unimateattached die castings to car doors at a GM production line in 1961. Such manufacturing robots have been powerful and extremely precise, but its never been safe for humans to work alongside them. As a result, a significant number of final assembly tasks, in auto plants and elsewhere, are still performed almost entirely by hand.
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Fun stuff with a purpose!
hence the government sponsoring abortion, obesity, and sterility.
"When Bob loads his parts, he says the machine stops running, Fix it!"
Well, Bob put his parts in backwards.
"You need to be proactive and make a jig so Bob can't do that"
OK I've done that! Now Bob can't put his parts in backwards.
"Bob says the machine won't run for more than an hour"
Well, that's because Bob unboxes the parts and the empty cardboard boxes pile up and block the photo-eye safety curtain of light, which shuts off the machine.
"Do something about that!"
OK, I've made a case crusher to flatten and bale Bob's trash. "Great! But why doesn't Bob just use the bin near his work station?"
I dunno, but you told me to fix Bob's unwillingness to break flat and throw out his trash.
"That's wasting money and we're already over budget!"
I kid you not! That is what goes on in every manufacturing plant in America these days.
I set my overcurrent and overtorque limits within a mouse fart of low, so that an extra few ounces of resistance send a bit to the error file which soft stops the machine. Hard stops are a very, very bad thing. ie, e-stops. Machines turning at a few thousand RPM which come to an instant stop will require complete rehoming and calibration to allow a new run enable bit to latch the main control relay. Sometimes this can take hours. The law requires hard e-stops be within reach, but the regular stop button is closer and more plentiful. But the operator doesn’t care. They know if they hit the e-stop they get an hour long break.
solution, fire Bob and build unboxing robot.
Bob comes to me and says "Hey blackdog, can I get you to fix my water heater? We haven't had hot water all week and my old lady is getting mad?
No Bob, I cannot, but Home depot sells new heating elements and they are easy to replace.
"OK", says Bob.
"Hey blackdog, I did what you said and I still have no hot water"
Really Bob? Tell me what is going on?
Well blackdog, I've put four of those heating elements in and I hear a bang and then nothing comes out of my faucet."
Bob, do you turn the water back on after you replace the heating elements and before you re-energize the breaker?
"Why?, What do that do?" says Bob.
With all the Bob’s and Roberta’s out there, I’ve got a pretty good gig until retirement and then some.
I had a similar experience at one of my customers, Delphi.
They wanted to speed up a machine which partially assembled heater cores.
My systems controlled the stepping of the machine, acceleration and deceleration.
The engineer’s goal was to take 5 to 10 seconds out of the operation cycle per minute which was easy to do EXCEPT all while I was testing the program change and parameter changes, the machine kept stopping BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT PRODUCE enough parts to keep the machine occupied.
So I asked them, are you going to modify, improve, increase production of the upstream process so you have sufficient product? NO! Was their answer! So I asked then why do you want to increase the wear on this machine to reduce its cycle time? Because my boss told me too.
"Make my winder run at 1800 feet per minute."
Can the downstream brand new casepacker load and process those numbers Jim?
"I'm sure it can, and do what I tell you!"
Now the winder stops in pause every three minutes because the casepacker is backed up.
Waste takes many forms. Most of which is human.
I used to explain to my manager and customers that one of the biggest challenges was the fact that the operator is unable to distinguish the logic that the system I designed used from magic.
Without some understanding of how the system works, the average operator is unable to grasp what the machine is capable of doing. Many is the time that an operator would reveal with his questions that he couldn't recognize that he was wanting the machine to read his mind.