A few days before Christmas, partners from the research profile Virtual Factories with Knowledge-Driven Optimization met at ASSAR Industrial Arena in Skövde to discuss the ongoing research. The organizer, the University of Skövde, also took the opportunity to present its study programme, Virtual Factories, developed for professionals working in the industry sector. The courses in the programme, developed in close cooperation with industry partners, provide the students with the knowledge they need to translate and implement research results.
Amos Ng, Professor of Automation Engineering and Project Manager of the profile, started the morning by addressing the importance of using simulation and virtual testing as tools to optimize production. Combining the two, you can optimize the entire production chain.
“By including virtual testing in routine activities, industries will be able to develop their products without having to invest in solutions that are not yet ready,” says Amos Ng.
What will the production floor of the future look like?
What roads do we have to go down to get there? Kaveh Amouzgarvisar, Production Engineer, presented a case where the team had done over 600 simulations for a lathe with 19 tools. The team took into account tool wear and machine stand-still time. With 600 simulations, the team was able to identify the optimal operation, that is, the operation with the highest efficiency and production life of machine.
Professor Dan Högberg focused on the operator when he and his team demonstrated how you can simulate the movements of an operator and for example foresee the occurrence of work-related injuries by using sensors and virtual reality.This is important knowledge that can advise companies on how to set up more ergonomic workstations on the production floor.
The operator was also in focus when Associate Professor Sunith Bandaru addressed the question “Can productivity and operator ergonomics go hand in hand?”. Humans are flexible and adaptable, while robots are automated and better suited for monotonous tasks. The presented work aims to achieve improved Human-Robot Collaboration through simulation-based optimization. Using an industrial case study concerning the collaborative assembly of a mass balancing system, the work demonstrated the existence of a trade-off between cycle time and average ergonomic load on the human operator. The trade-off gives rise to multiple optimal solutions for task allocation and scheduling.
After a well-earned Christmas lunch, the University representative gave the industry partners a tour of ASSAR, and the demonstrators (a physical result of the research) that have been developed within the profile..
December 18th gave the audience a glimpse into the future of industry; of what production floors will look like, how they will function and how they will be integrated with the other systems in the company.
“It has been a very productive year, now we're looking forward to what we will discover in 2020,” concludes Amos Ng.