Human robot collaboration and operator support in low volume, high mix assembly
Gu van Rhijn - TNO Sustainable Productivity, The Netherlands.
Zero defect manufacturing, but also fast switching between products in an assembly line or assembly cell for small series is an important ambition. ‘Full automation’ is often not feasible in assembly work, specifically in the combination of low volumes, high product mix, and high product complexity. New technologies may help QRM and Lean based assembly cells/lines to deal with high variety and change-overs. New technologies like robots and Augmented reality may support in a manufacturing cell when products, orders, parts, information, operators continuously change. In this presentation a case in a manual assembly cell will be explained: an example of human-robot collaboration assisted by an operator support system based on Augmented Reality (AR).
The AR assistance provides a step-by-step instruction to the human operator. Instructions and other visual cues are projected on the table top surface, products, tooling and bins. The work area is monitored by a MS Kinect by virtual sensors. Triggering these virtual sensors in specific steps allows the operator to intuitively proceed to the next step. A robot provides assistance by providing the correct bins with parts at the right moment in time. This system has been tested in a lab setting together with 2 operators from industrial company Thomas Regout International: a new, still unexperienced and an experienced employee. This year the system will be validated in the Thomas Regout factory and evaluated by 10-12 operators.