Robot and AGV handling
IMPROVE, our computer system dedicated to the industrial sector, is able to interface and communicate with any computer system present in the field: that are touch panels managed by human operators that are PLC … that are robots.
And it could not be otherwise since we have been working for years on solutions that are now being labeled as Industry 4.0: in this case, we are talking above all about the Internet of Things, i.e. the communication and connection between them, of different objects involved in a production cycle.
IMPROVE is able both to extract data from the System (OEE, Andon, SPC, process traceability, etc.), and to send information: we will talk about automation and robotics, how our software interfaces with the robots present in the plant, taking care of their handling by sending precise tasks.
There are no specific types of tasks that IMPROVE is able to transmit to the machines. Let’s see a couple of examples.
The FCA VM Motori di Cento case study: robots and pick to light
For example, for the FCA VM Motori di Cento plant, our IMPROVE system has the task of managing AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicle) so that they move materials, from load buffers to lines. Here the AGV stops to allow the operator to read the engine serial number through a barcode reader. Thereafter it will start to advance slowly, in perfect synchrony with the pick to light system, always managed by our IMPROVE system.
What happens in practice? IMPROVE from the itemized list knows the list of components to be installed on the engine during the finish phase. In relation to this list, the AGV is sent to a certain line. The speed of the AGV is managed by IMPROVE according to the shelves indicated by the pick to light system, always managed by IMPROVE. Finally, IMPROVE will also adjust the height where the engine must be held in relation to the height of the human operator. The operator will then proceed to assemble the engine, perfectly supported by both the AGV and the pick-to-light system which will dictate the AGV movement time.
The MTD case study
Instead, what has been implemented in partnership with CTF Automazioni for MTD, is different. In this case IMPROVE interfaces both with the PLC (which exchanges information both with the robot and with IMPROVE) and with the numerically controlled machines that process the pieces.
Here the robot, after receiving the load request from the operator, begins his round: he loads the piece from the inlet to the warehouse. Then it will pick up the pieces to be processed from the available machines. The machines will perform on that piece all the working phases provided by IMPROVE (entered by the operator). Once the processing is finished, a signal will automatically activate the robot, which will pick up the piece to bring it to the warehouse. From here, if all the phases have been completed, it will then be unloaded from the robot back into the inlet; otherwise it will start towards other machines to complete all the processing phases.
IMPROVE finally provides input to the robot so that it always knows what kind of piece it should take and then automatically uses different tools and transport it.
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NeXT is a software house that produces and sells softwares developed to provide information and aggregate data to company management, supporting its operational decision making.
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