The human becomes a part of the robot process

Søren Peter Johansen

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The human becomes a part of the robot process

The 2nd of September 2013 was marked as official start date of the LIAA project.

The project aims at developing software solutions that creates better functionality and flexibility, enhancing the performance of robot solutions on an assembly floor. The purpose of the LIAA project is to maintain assembly jobs in Europe by making it possible for humans and robots to work closer together and thereby achieve higher productivity.

Lean principles

Today’s available robot solutions can be hard to combine with the principles of 'Lean Production'. LIAA will overcome this problem by using the traditional Japanese Lean principle 'Jidoka' which can be translated as "automation with a human face". Hereby, the human is no longer 'just' an operator who controls what the robot does;  he is worked into the robot's processes to become part of the 'loop', so to speak.

These robot solutions aim to ensure that robots can achieve high productivity in structured work environments. LIAA reduces the need for investments in expensive robot equipment, and  at the same time avoid strenuous and monotonous work that is wasting human capabilities and harming the human body.

Safe teamwork between man and robot

The LIAA project will improve the safety of  human-robot corporation by developing components  that ensures a safety balance is kept. Safety is primarily guaranteed through the development of robot safety systems and the robot cell's physical design. The robot cannot harm employees by collision. Moreover, cameras are installed to adjust the movements of the robot, in order to make it more 'comfortable' for humans to work closely with the robot.

All solutions will be risk evaluated by Danish Technological Institutes’ Department of Certification and Inspection, which are also actively involved in the research project that develop methods to better assess the risk of human-robot cooperation .

Universal Robots and Opel among the partners

Universal Robots, this year's winner of the DIRA automation price at  HI13, is a partner of the LIAA project. They will further develop  the new safety features of their UR5 and UR10 robots to improve safety among human workers.  This could for instance be functions that guarantee that speed is kept below a certain threshold, or limitations in the robot´s movements.

Opel is one of five pilot projects that are part of the LIAA project. The goal of Opel's pilot project is the assembling  of next generation of a turbocharger. This specific Opel case is representative for 50% of all Opel´s assembly operations  with propulsion systems.

The development of the LIAA project will be driven by the requirements of the - until now - manual pilot projects. The requirements of each pilot project will be collected, consolidated and transformed into the specifications of the common LIAA goal. This common goal will then be developed by all the partners to meet the requirements of all pilot projects, and  used to implement symbiotic human-robot collaboration solutions for all the pilot projects. The diversity of the pilot projects as well as input and feedback from the LIAA project ensures the generality of the concept, and the LIAA Framework will then be applicability for a wide range of industry sectors.

Read more about LIAA here: http://www.project-leanautomation.eu