HOP Ubiquitous is a specialized IoT company that develops fully integrated solutions for Smart Cities and Industry 4.0. HOP Ubiquitous also manufactures its own IoT devices, e.g. Smart Spot. This manufacturing process involves the assembly of different printed circuit boards (PCBs). Handling orders for a system such as Smart Spot with multiple configurations presents s key challenge in terms of automation. In detail, the physical device consists of three main parts: firstly, the backplate that holds the different PCBs; secondly, PCB boards, which are mounted on the backplate; and thirdly, the mounting of sensor probes.
The development of automated solutions required the company to adapt the design of the product. In the previous solution, screws were used for attaching PCBs to the backplate. The introduction of the automated solution required HOP Ubiquitous to replace the screws with nylon spacers and design a customized backplate made of acrylic, with the holes for mounting the supporting PCB spacers at the appropriate places.
The reconfigurable and modular design of ReconCell enabled integrating various innovative technologies to address the assembly challenge. Firstly, an innovative spacer gun was designed for spacer insertion, which facilitates the mounting of PCBs on the required backplate. In order to grasp various PCBs, three pneumatic grippers would be needed. To reduce the number of grippers to one, a Power over Ethernet servo gripper was designed, compliant with the ROS-based software architecture that drives ReconCell. The complete task was programmed using innovative programming by demonstration technologies.
Reconfigurable cell created for manufacturing the PCB.
Implementation time: 15 days (excluding adaptation of the product design and design of new workcell hardware).
Implementation cost: € 225,000
* Reduction of manual work: the ReconCell solution can reduce the amount of manual work to 1 worker per shift instead of three.
* Reduction of changeover time and cost: Currently, 1 hour of manual is are required to configure production for a known item. ReconCell can reduce this time to zero for known items.
* Improved assembly quality of PCB boards: the rejection rate is lower with the ReconCell solution.
The provided solution has a payback time of 11 months, which is very attractive for a typical manufacturing company. The solution is not limited to the current product specification but can be adapted in the future to cope with changes in the product design. It can be used by any company dealing with the assembly of PCB boards. The implemented solution shows that it is feasible to use robots for automated assembly in SMEs.
HOP Ubiquitous (End user); Jožef Stefan Institute, University of Southern Denmark & University of Göttingen (Tech Providers)
Computer, electronic and optical products