Collaboration of robots without a human-in-the-loop

A team of a human and a robot is flexible but not effective

A collaborative robot system: robot-human collaboration

Collaborative robots with a human-in-the-loop are becoming a mainstream for assembly operations in industry. The team of a human and a robot is very flexible – a perfect match by combining the flexibility and adaptivity of a man and effectiveness and tireless working of a robot.

A working team consisting only of robots is effective but it’s hard to re-program

A cooperative multi-robot system: robot-robot collaboration

Collaborative human-robot teams are flexible, but not that effective as a human has his/her restrictions with working hours and working speed. Human needs rest. Collaborative teams of multiple robots without a human-in-the-loop are commonly called as cooperative robot systems are indefatigable workers. But there is one ‘but’. That is the very tedious and time-consuming programming. Programming of robots is not an issue in mass production as the need for re-programming takes place only seldom. Things are opposite in high-mix low-volume production. Re-programming needs to be done often. Teaching of a new program might take several weeks. Programming of robots offline is the only solution.

Automated and fast offline programming is a must when programming multi-robot systems in small-batch manufacturing

Multi-robot system; a Jigless welding setup

Delfoi has developed an automated and fast offline programming application for cooperative multiple robot systems. The new Multi-Robot System application paves the way for the usage of complex multi-robot systems in small-batch size manufacturing. The key innovation of the new application is the inbuild artificial intelligence (AI) and automated calculation of coordinated motion planning of simultaneously moving robot arms.

The application enables automated programming of a jigless robot welding system where traditional part positioner device is replaced with a handling robot – a 3-axis positioner is replaced with a 6-degrees of freedom robot arm.  This will bring ultra-flexibility and not-compromised control of a welding position. When combining a handling robot, assembly robot and welding robots the scenario is as follows: one – typically a big robot –  is a part positioning robot holding a welded assembly in its flexible gripper (fixture/jigg) in desired welding position continuously while an assembly robot is inserting new components into an assembly and a welding robot is tag-welding and final welding an assembly.

Jigless robot system saves time and money, as it eliminates the piles of fixtures and jiggs used typically with welding robots. Also, the setup times are drastically reduced as the welded assemblies don’t need to be transported and moved between different robot stations – detached and attached again and again.  Everything is done within a compact robot cell.

Espoo, 13.12.2021

Heikki Aalto
Delfoi Oy