Human-centred robot collaboration in an injection moulding process
GHEPI Srl has different injection moulding workstations, where different parts are produced. Among these stations, one is dedicated to the machining of conveyor handling workpieces. The injection moulding process is completely automated but still requires on-board machine processing for the finishing. In this context the worker is forced by few technological constraints to work in step with the press, forcing him to high physical and mental stress. COMPLEMANT project aims at supporting this process, increasing its performances and reducing worker mental and physical stress relying on the HORSE infrastructure integrated with ad-hoc developed modules.
Different process configurations have been designed, characterized by variable assignment of process tasks to operator and cobot, allowing to make real-time interventions whenever operator and system behaviour deviates from optimal and safe performance. Cobot capabilities become an extension of those held by the worker and are modulated in order to cope with the worker specific characteristics, such as skills, physical/intellectual capabilities and status (e.g. mental stress, loss of attention and fatigue), and with the system conditions that are currently being experienced.
In particular, the COMPLEMANT solution has been designed as extension of the HORSE framework, maximizing the validation capability. Specific interactions have been defined between:
– Sensing Layer (directly supported by Kafka broker) and HORSE Middleware: heterogeneous data real-timely gathered from the workplace are pre-processed and sent to HORSE providing standardized means of communication between the components;
– Intervention Manager (IM) and the HORSE Manufacturing Process Management System (via HORSE Middleware): to inform IM about the status of the working environment.
IT components of the COMPLEMANT system
Implementation time: 10 months
Implementation cost: €199,640
The introduction of the COMPLEMANT system allows to significantly improve process performance from different perspectives:
– Quality checks increased from 70% (without the COMPLEMANT system) to 100% (with the COMPLEMANT system)
– Quality Issues reduced from 2.9% to less than 1%
– Process Productivity increased of 16%
– Operating costs reduced of the 11%
The introduction of the COMPLEMANT system brought an increase of worker well-being. All the operators that validated the COMPLEMANT system, having previous experience on the process, agreed on:
– the system reduces mental and physical stress;
– the system increases job satisfaction;
– the system is useful to support process activities.
The COMPLEMANT architecture has been designed in order to allow the application of the overall system in different domains (which, obviously, cope with human tasks).
The introduction of the “intelligent” work cell supported by COMPLEMANT system has been positively received by GHEPI and its workers with an increase in both production rate and job satisfaction, along reducing the risk of injuries and monotony.
This experiment has been support by Horse project. (See this experiment in project’s site)
Ghepi Srl (End-user), HOLONIX Srl (System Integrator); University of Applied Science and Arts Of Southern Switzerland (Tech Provider); University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (RTO) ‘
Rubber & plastic