Reconfigurable Parallel Kinematic Manipulator for Flexible Manufacturing
Flexible manufacturing puts high demands on industrial automation in terms of affordable and competitive solutions and is of key importance for short-lot production typically found in small and medium sized enterprises, situations where today manual labour is extensively used despite environmental issues and harsh working conditions. Key factors in the successful introduction of new robot automation concepts are that they provide both the desired performance and quality (technical capability), but also that they enable fast deployment and extend available task repertoire. The Gantry-Tau manipulator is a new robot concept which in contrast to other high-performance parallel kinematic manipulators (PKM), has a large, open working range. Its high stiffness makes it ideal for a wide range of tasks such as grinding, deburring, and cutting. An additional aspect of such a PKM is the modularity, which in this work has been studied in terms of possibilities for assembly and mechanical reconfiguration at the end-user site, integration of such a kinematically different robot with a standard industrial controller, and new needs for methods/tools to support simple (re)configuration. A range of software tools and methods were found to be useful and necessary for efficient engineering and integration of the concept in typical SME manufacturing scenarios. For experimental evaluation, two full-scale prototype robots were designed and built, the kinematic software was developed and integrated into a couple of different robot control systems, robot CAD software was adapted to the configuration needs, and both simulations and physical experiments were carried out. Our findings make us believe that enhanced software tools should be integrated on a higher symbolic (or meta-) level to better support transformation of data and code generation, but also that the Gantry-Tau type of robot (with adequate software support) will bring a new dimension of flexibility into SME manufacturing.
- Technology and Engineering
- parallel kinematic robots
- force control
13th IFAC Symposium on Information Control Problems in Manufacturing