The SMErobotics Consortium has produced a Project Video to explain its vision & mission, its main research and development topics as well as its four main demonstrators. On this page we would like to introduce the video chapter by chapter and show its structure and content.
The SMErobotics Consortium has produced four Demonstrator videos to showcase the workflow of a robotic cell in a real-world SME-environment.
Link to video: 00:00
[Four Demonstrator robots at work i.e. assembly, drilling, wood working & welding]
Narrator / Voice over text:
"Automation using robots is key to improving the competitiveness of Europe's manufacturing industries.
Especially SMEs – small and medium-sized enterpises with small production runs – need flexible yet reliable systems with which to increase productivity with no compromises on quality."
Link to video: 00:28
[Four robot Operators looking into the camera and giving their statements]
#I: "We need robots that are easy and intuitive to teach."
#II: "A robot that understands what a human means and that can constantly improve its skills."
#III: "One that adapts to variations in production instead of carrying out a set of predefined programs."
#IV: "A robot that’s affordable and that quickly pays for itself."
Link to video: 00:49
[Master and his Apprentice looking into the camera]
"To meet these requirements, future robots for SMEs must be as easy to instruct as a new colleague."
Master – Apprentice Sequence:
[Master already arranged the parts needed for the assembly]
Master (M): "Ok, so this is the assembly station. First of all you get an overview and check that everything is in place, that you’ve got all the tools that you need and that they are connected."
[Apprentice listens / shows interest in the screwdriver hanging down from the workbench]
Apprentice (A): "Ok, got it. May I need this too?"
[Master gives instructions to a Worker who delivers two boxes with assembly parts]
M: "What we will be doing today will be assembling these housings, these motors and these screws and will be assembling them into one unit."
Link to video: 01:25
[Scan of the shop floor to capture the environment. Perspective of the 3D-robot camera]
"To cope with the uncertainties of the shop floor, an SME-compatible robot must be capable of capturing its environment – and using that information to calibrate and adjust itself."
[Robot confirms new devices (i.e. gripper) by showing them on the Operator's screen]
"But a robot not only needs to know where it is and where people, tools and components are – an intelligent system must also know its own capabilities.
For example, it needs to know what kind of grippers, tools and sensors are attached to it - how they can be used - and what capabilities they offer."
Link to video: 01:58
"However it’s not just our ability to know where we are that makes us humans so easy to teach. It’s also our knowledge."
Master – Apprentice Sequence:
[Master holds two pieces in his hands while explaining the task]
M: "Today I want to show you how to put together this motor housing. Before we can put all the components together we need to insure that these two parts screw together."
[Apprentice starts executing the task / Master interrupts and gives further instructions / Worker brings in more boxes on a small trolley]
M: "Steady! You need to insure that the screwdriver is aligned correctly and that the screw is in place and that you use little presure."
A: "I know what I am doing. This is not the first time I screw something together."
[Apprentice continues executing the task]
Link to video: 02:40
[Skill icons are stored in a taskbar on the side of the screen]
"Wouldn't it be great if a robot also knew how to do such work?
If it came with a set of skills – like the skill to pick and place objects - the skill to drill, screw, grind, paint, or check for wrongly positioned parts."
[Operator adds skill modules to the screen /adapts them to new tasks / starts test-run]
"Having access to ready-to-use building blocks means that existing skills can be reused or adapted to new tasks. So there’s no need to constantly reprogram each invididual stage of a process.
This allows even complex jobs to be compiled by combining or adapting skill modules from the existing knowledge base to create complete work sequences."
Link to video: 03:23
[Operater modifies a skill by manual guidance. Parameter changes are illustrated on the screen]
"Even non-expert users can easily reconfigure the robot’s skills by making changes to parameters, for example by manually showing the robot what to do.
And with each skill that’s added, executed and optimised, the system increases its knowledge and extends its capabilities. Existing skills can be reused or even transferred to other robot systems."
Link to video: 03:49
"But having skills doesn’t automatically mean that you know how to assemble the components or the order in which to carry out the required actions."
Master – Apprentice Sequence
[Master unfolds a drawing /explains the necessity of an assembly plan]
M: "Every project that you work on here, you need to refer to a drawing."
[CAD data of an assembly task visualise the basis what a robot needs to process a tasks]
"For complex tasks drawings or assembly plans help us share the information we need. A robot doesn’t need to waste time looking at a drawing – instead it immediately processes CAD data, which is the basis for offline programming."
Link to video: 04:27
[A User defines the final operation / the system shows a preview of the assembly workflow]
"Automatic planning tools and 3D workflow simulations allow the effortless generation of an optimized work process."
[A graphic overlay visualises the scanning e.g. robot’s calculation, automatic planning-process]
"If no CAD data is available – as is commonly the case with small production runs like this weldment – a smart SME robot system must also be capable of capturing the object geometry."
[Scan results (incl. suggestion for the welding order) is shown on the Operator's tablet PC]
"In addition, it must assist the worker with automatic program generation based on an analysis of the geometry data."
[Operator checks the workpiece / rearranges the order on his tablet PC / easily changes parameters / confirms the sequence / robot starts welding]
"The worker can start refining the workflow without having to manually define
each and every operation."
Link to video: 05:07
[Worker brings in more boxes on a pallet truck]
"But even if you’ve got a great instructor and you´re highly skilled – it doesn’t mean you’ll get everything right at the first attempt."
[Apprentice thinks hard to find the reason for what went wrong]
"So if there’s a problem because the result isn’t what you expected, or if you’re just not sure what to do, then you ask for advice."
Link to video: 05:40
"An intelligent robot system should behave in a similar way."
[Robot stops working because of an unknown part. Problem is visualised on the tablet PC]
"Instead of stopping working, the robot should be capable of accurately identifying the error in the workflow. And it should also offer suggestions of how to solve the problem."
[An error handling dialogue appears on the user interface. A cause for the interruption and a list of solutions is shown. The Operator accepts the robots proposal. The robot continues its work]
"So even an inexperienced user can quickly handle exceptions and resume the workflow.
Successful solutions would then be added to the system’s knowledge base – meaning that the robot actually learns from previously solved tasks."
Link to video: 06:16
[Worker arrives with a forklift to deliver a great amount of boxes containing assembly parts]
Master – Apprentice Sequence
[Apprentice is bored by doing his work /faces the stack of boxes waiting to be processed]
A: "You really want me to assemble all these parts here?"
M: "Yes! And it has to be done by Friday!"
A: "Come on, this is boring! And I bet I mount every other bearing wrong."
M: "You better not!"
[Apprentice tries to convince his Master to include a robot in the work process]
A: "Look, what if we just said we buy robots that do it within hours without
[Master voices his misgivings towards robots]
M: "Well, yes we could. But the one's we have aren’t quite as intelligent as you are.
And I don’t think it would pay to assign them to .... – to this small lot."
A: "Maybe. But… I think we just got a new one!"
Link to video: 06:55
[Demonstrators are shown in dedicated situations e.g. a part of the SMErobotics IT-chain]
"Automation using robots offers considerable advantages. They're highly accurate, they don't get tired and they don't need a coffee break."
[Corresponding facts of the TCO aspects like investment related to the savings are highlighted]
"Yet a robot is not inexpensive and it definitifly needs to pay for itself in an every-day manufacturing environment. Ultimately, it's its useability that decides on the robot's return on invest.
That's why the joint technical and economic objective of SMErobotics is to speed up and simplify robot operation by adapting the setup, teach-in and changeover routines to suit a human workflow. Furthermore, SMEroborics provides SMEs with the tools needed to find the automation solution best suited for their application."
Link to video: 07:45
[Apprentice pushes a trolley with a robot on top / adjusts parts / plugs in cables / mounts a 3D camera / programms movement of a robot hand / define positions by manual guidance. Master is curiously looking over his Apprentices' shoulder. Robot executes a gripping task]
"The goal is to copy how we humans learn – how we develop our skills and knowledge - to develop a new generation of SME-compatible robot systems – to make robots that combine the high productivity and consistent quality of industrial automation with SMEs’ needs for versatile solutions."
Link to video: 08:21
[SMErobotics logo animation including all the logos of the consortium partners]
"Europe’s leading robot manufacturers and research institutes have teamed up with the European Robotics Initiative for Strengthening the Competitiveness of SMEs in Manufacturing - To make the vision of cognitive robotics in manufacturing a reality."