Automation technology has evolved to a stage where numerousother technologies have emerged from it and have achieved a status of theirown.
Robotic automation is one such technology which has been recognized as aspecialized field of automation where the automated machines have some humanlike properties. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) defines an industrialrobotic manipulator as follows: “An industrial robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctionalmanipulator designed to move materials, parts, tools, or specialized devicesthrough variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.” 1Industrial robots are employed to automate a wide range ofindustrial processes which are generally too dull, dangerous or dirty for humanoperators. Moreover, advance robotic manipulators have enabled us to achievenew levels of precision, accuracy, repeatability and productivity which are ofprime importance in many modern engineering applications. Robotic automation ismostly used in the following industrial applications: · Assembly· Machine Tending· Welding· Material Removal· Material Handling· Palletization and De-Palletizing· Vision InspectionIt can be inferred, from the above definition, that arobotic manipulator enables precise motion along a pre-defined trajectory. Buta complete robotic automation solution involves much more than just achievingdesired movements. Each application has its own special need, leading to acomplicated design, simulation and configuration process, which makes roboticintegration very cumbersome and time consuming. Selecting the right robotic arm, peripheral equipment andend-effector has critical importance.
Material handling in a press line, forexample, requires highly customized end-of-arm tooling with suitableend-effectors, with or without special functions, to perform the desired task.Additional functions like automatic tool changing, required for higherflexibility, make the integration process even more complex. With newapplications emerging every year, it becomes very important to developstandardized methodologies for designing, configuring and integrating robots inorder to keep project cost and time under control.
The following section describes the motivation andobjectives of this thesis project.1.1Research MotivationThe advent of Industry 4.
0 would have huge consequences forthe manufacturing industry. The full impact of the fourth industrial revolutionon the manufacturing world is yet to be discovered. But it can be considered asa new model of growth and development which would lead to the creation of “smartfactories”. These factories of the future are characterized by a high level of wirelessconnectivity and data sharing between machines through the power of IoT.
Anothersalient feature of these factories would be modular physical structures whichcould be replicated in the virtual world to control and monitor processes tomake decentralized decisions. In order to achieve this, a high degree ofstandardization of manufacturing equipment is needed.Robotic automation has been identified as one of the key technologiesthat would drive the fourth industrial revolution to a point where we couldrealize “smart factories”.