Combining the physical and digital systems
The first step in the demonstration was the creation of a modular production setup, that could accommodate robot assistants and human workers joining the operations. The robot assistants were composed of a collaborative robot on a mobile trolley and equipped with a quick tool changer and three tools.
Based on the variant of the product being assembled, a configuration or scenario for the production system was automatically chosen by the Manufacturing Execution System (MES). The MES had the ability to request different tools in the robot. Then, based on the MES, the robot knew where to position itself and what process needed to be performed.
The baseline scenario for this demonstration was a fully automated line, with no humans or robot assistants, and where all the operations occurred in the robot cells. In other scenarios, where additional processes were required (i.e. placing fuses or glueing pieces together), the MES system divided the tasks to be performed by robot assistants and human workers side-by-side. The project team evaluated five main production scenarios.
- Scenario 1: Fully automated with 1 robot assistant
- Scenario 2: Fully automated with 2 robot assistants
- Scenario 3: Semi-automated with 1 human and 1 robot assistant
- Scenario 4: Partially manual with robot cell and 1 human
- Scenario 5: Fully manual (no robots)
SDU used Visual Components to create a digital twin of the physical production setup at Aalborg University and ran continuous simulations of the different scenarios to plan, optimize, and evaluate each configuration. They also used the software to help visualize what was happening.
“Visual Components produces high-quality 3D visualizations, which helped us to develop, explain, demonstrate, and visualize each scenario,” said Elias. “We also used Visual Components to show the project’s stakeholders in a visual and intuitive way the purpose of each scenario. This made it easier for them to understand the results and the feedback was quite positive.”