Human and robot operate directly as colleagues for tank fitting
Bietigheim-Bissingen, December 2015 – Human and robot working side by side and without any protective systems separating them: Dürr has introduced one of the first concepts for human-robot collaboration (HRC) for automotive production. The automotive industry is expecting innovative HRC concepts to accelerate the automation of final assembly operations and thus increase productivity.
In Dürr’s HRC concept a skilled employee moves a fuel tank to the workplace and cleans it. A robot equipped with a specially developed applicator then applies the adhesive bead round the edge of the tank. Sensor monitoring ensures that the bead is absolutely uniform. The skilled worker then attaches the tank precisely in the body. This complex process requires the individual skills of the human. The manipulator assists him with the ergonomically difficult movement sequences of this process and with movements which require a high level of repeat accuracy.
Dürr supplies the entire plant engineering system for the new human-robot collaboration. Apart from the layout concept, this includes the complete material supply system, the electrically controlled dosing technology for the speed-dependent adhesive flow and the higher-level control unit plus operator panel to control the handling, gluing and bolting. The applicator heads, which are designed to be very lightweight for safety reasons and which can rotate flexibly through 360 degrees, are also Dürr developments. In addition, the entire management of the installation of the tank in the car bodies by means of manipulator technology is part of the delivery specification. Dürr is also responsible for teaching and programming the HRC robot.
Since there are no fences or enclosures, the safety requirements in human-robot collaboration are significantly higher than with conventional robot cells. The safety concept has to meet stringent specifications and standards based on a risk assessment. For example, the robot is positioned such that contact with the human colleague is more or less ruled out. However, the human’s movements also have to be taken into account. The robot therefore has to operate very gently and come to a standstill within milliseconds as soon as any contact is registered.
Dürr has designed the concept for the gluing cell such that the robot always operates below the human’s head and chest level. The application technology and the robot itself are designed to be light, extensive, soft and rounded.
The benefits of HRC are obvious: The physical demands on the final assembly workers will be reduced, allowing them to concentrate on demanding tasks. The OEM benefits from lower unit costs and higher quality.