HOP Ubiquitous is a specialised IoT company that develops and researches full integrated solutions for Smart Cities and Industry 4.0 to control and monitor energy consumption (W), air quality (CO2, NO2, H2S, NO, O3 and SO2) and noise pollution (30dB-130db) in real time. HOP Ubiquitous also does part of the assembly and manufacturing process of its own IoT device (i.e. Smart Spot). The current production of their Smart Spots is fully manual. This leads to variation in product quality and the need to allocated resources in accordance to demand.
Current assembly of Smart Spots
HOP Ubiquitous carries out the complete operation of mounting the PCB modules inside the encapsulation, making the internal connections, mounting the probes, etc. Figure 1 presents an overview of the assembled Smart Spot product from HOP Ubiquitous and it will be used as a reference for this project.
Figure 1. Smart Spot product overview
Handling orders for a system such as Smart Spot with multiple configurations presents key challenges in terms of synchronization and communication. In details, the physical device consists of three main pillars: first, the encapsulation and backplate that holds the different PCBs; second, PCB modules, which are mounted within the encapsulation; finally, sensor probes, which are the last part of the system. Screws are being used for the current assembly.
Communication between departments, i.e., interdepartmental communication, several times ends up in errors due to communication issues that lead to misunderstanding. For example, several issues for the coordination between sales department and the production lines have been identified for our Smart Spot product (http://smartcities.hopu.eu/smart-spot.html). Smart Spot is an integral product for Smart Cities, which offers a wide range of configurations and extensions to satisfy multiple needs in the urban monitoring market. For example, Smart Spot can include optional extensions for air quality monitoring and extra communication modules for emerging technologies such as LoRa. For that reason, sales departments and production lines have communication issues due to the diversity of configurations and optional add-ons. At the same time, it is remarkable that production lines and sales department are not located at the same place, therefore making the communication even more difficult.
Interdepartmental communication could be solved by digitising the order and production process. In addition, the automated robot workcell would provide HOP Ubiquitous a practical solution for an assembly line in accordance with frequently fluctuating market demand and enhance the resource management capabilities.
Robots will customise the end product by adding extensions (PCBs) according to the specifications
Easy and quick change between product groups
Create a cyber-physical interface between sales and production departments
Throughput that matches the market demand
Fast set-up of new production variants without knowledge of robot programming
With this experiment, the ReconCell project demonstrates the technical feasibility of robotic assembly and gather data to foster technological readiness of the implemented technologies and streamline product development.