Study rounds up initial experiences from companies using the technology
What is the current state of cage-free robot technology in German industry? This was the question Fraunhofer IAO investigated in the study “Lightweight robots in manual assembly.” Based on case studies in factories already using lightweight robots for manufacturing, the study looked at their experiences with implementing the robots, gaining acceptance from human coworkers, and improving operational efficiency.
In recent years, human-robot cooperation – also known as human-robot collaboration, or HRC – has taken center stage at trade fairs. The term applies to any situation where robots work directly alongside humans without safety barriers on the manufacturing floor.
In such cases, the work zones of robots and workers overlap instead of being strictly separated. The low entry prices and big media interest in the technology created a wave of hype. But is the cost really all that low, and are the new robots really safe? Or is it a case of companies having unrealistic expectations?
Meet your new robotic workmate: initial hurdles and sample applications
In the course of the study “Lightweight robots in manual assembly – best to start simply,” Fraunhofer IAO researched cage-free robot use in Germany in industrial companies and in publications. From some 50 applications, 25 were ultimately selected for further investigation – of these, 18 were taken from personal interviews and 7 from publications. The decisive criterion for selection was that the application was already operating on a production line or that the robots were already being used by several companies.
First and foremost, the study reveals that the new technology works! This was confirmed by all the one-to-one interviews conducted. Even if the technology itself is not being called into question, however, there are still some uncertainties – for example, as regards new occupational safety standards and guidelines.
In addition, the cost of cage-free operation is significantly higher than initially expected. The study also showed that humans and robots are still primarily working alongside each other in a form of coexistence, with genuine collaborative applications virtually non-existent in production facilities at the present time. To ensure that the purchase costs of a lightweight robot pay off, it is also important to keep the new robotic worker busy.
Who dares wins: take the plunge!
How can companies benefit in the future from current knowledge and experience? After the project, the interviewees all agreed that the bottom line is: “Don’t let obstacles put you off – best to start simply!” Fraunhofer IAO’s Manfred Bender, who headed the study, explains: “What’s particularly important here is to choose an application that will work. In other words, the application must not be too complex and must have simple requirements in regard to materials provisioning. For safe assembly processes, pointed or sharp parts should also be excluded.”
The study is available both as a printed document and as a PDF for download at http://s.fhg.de/Studie-LBR. The follow-up project “Rococo: designing human-robot assembly-line collaborations that are cooperative and integrated” starts on October 1, 2016. It is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and coordinated by the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA).
Phone: +49 711 970-2056
Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
More functionalities: Microstructuring large surfaces with a UV-laser system
05.07.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
A factory to go
04.07.2018 | Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
13.07.2018 | Life Sciences