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Holonic Integration of Cognition, Communication and Control for a Wood Patching Robot

Final Report Summary - HOL-I-WOOD PR (Holonic Integration of Cognition, Communication and Control for a Wood Patching Robot)

Executive Summary:
Repair and patching of resin galls and lose dead knots is a costly and disruptive process of inline production in timber industry. A large variety of plain as well as laminated wooden end-products demands for off-line human interaction and skilled handcrafting in order to add value and quality to the final products. The human workforce involved in these production tasks is hard to be replaced by a machine. Another request for human recognition and decision-making capabilities, occurring at a previous stage of the production line, is the detection and classification of significant artefacts in wooden surfaces.
The dimension of these plain or laminated wooden products ranges from a few centimetres up to several meters, thus requiring a related scalability of the fully automised solution being researched for within this
project. For that reason this project proposes a holonic concept that subsumes automated visual inspection
and quality/artefact classification by a skilled robot visually guided and controlled by non-linear approaches that combine manipulation with energy saving in trajectory planning under real-time conditions – enabling the required scalability for a wide range of applications. The interaction of these holonic sub-systems is implemented in agent technology based on a real-time communication concept while fusing multi-sensoric data and information at different spatial positions of the production line.
The feasibility of inter-linking independent autonomous processes, i.e. agents for inspection, wood-processing, transport (conveying) to repair by a patching robot, is demonstrated by a pilot in a glue lam factory since shutter boards are a perfectly representative mid-size product. A mobile HMI concept makes interaction with the machine park easy to control, reliable and efficient, while at the same time increasing the safety for workers within a potentially dangerous working environment of a glue lam factories and saw mills.

Project Context and Objectives:
The project creates a proficient cooperation between Universities from Sweden, Germany and Austria, as well as companies from Austria, Slovenia and Italy i) providing a significant progress in research of all involved technological areas; and ii) providing a set of sound technical solutions due to the expertise and roles of the involved partners. All partner countries clearly share the challenges in the wood industry and cross-pollinate core competencies between the industrial know-how and academic research.

The research activities are born out of needs to boost productivity and competitiveness of European industries and specifically: i) fostering the timber industry by a new quality of products by an increasing level of automation using robots and savings in human resources and related costs; ii) producing sustainably shutter boards for multiple reuses due to their high quality; iii) addressing several standards for accreditation and certification of laminated timber products for a wider market drain
HOL-I-WOOD PR is focused on the major issues addressed in the text of the strategic objective of the call . Without bringing together the specific competencies of each University and industrial partner, the research would not be possible.

The project introduces new technologies into the machine industry and into traditional production branches. Production capacities for shutter board within Europe has been increased from 23.5M m3/year in 2003 to a production yield of 32.5 M m3/year in 2008. Greatest competitors to the 3-layer shutter board of European production is coming from far eastern countries lead by India and China, which are producing single layer boards from wooden material mixed with chemical compounds. These boards are cheap but dedicated for single use. European 3-layer shutter boards provide a much higher lifecycle.

Project Results:
The future is now for innovative machinery in the timber industry. The wood patching robot will revolutionise the current way defects on wooden panels are removed and repaired. Moving away from the manual task of wood patching, the HOL-I-WOOD PR will have a large impact on the timber industry’s current success rate. The wood patching robot will allow for a gross increase in productivity and a reduction in labour costs. The HOL-I-WOOD wood patching robot is quick and efficient, able to repair up to 450 wood panels an hour, the automatic patcher compares to a workforce of 50 people.

For the employees who work in the wood-patching production line work days can be long and strenuous. In poor working conditions often the increase in volume of production prevents the human eye from being able to recognizing all the defects. This affects the consistency of the production line. As humans our decisions can be affected by our surroundings, the human threshold is often non-objective.

The Wood patching robot addresses and compensates for these human faults. As a completely automated system it is able to withstand any working conditions for any period of time. Using multi-sensors such as laser scanning, black and white cameras as well as colour cameras, the patching robot it able to instantly identify and repair all defects.

The patching robot is designed to allow for a more efficient production system and therefore greatly increases the competiveness of European wood processing companies.

Potential Impact:
In addition to the overall result of the project related to the patching robot in itself, also a large potential for the individual building blocks that are developed within the project is seen. In particular, the industrial partners have investigated how the technology they developed can be utilized in the context of future products. Furthermore, the academic partners have investigated how the results they found can be either transferred to industrial results or can be used in future research and teaching.

For MiCROTEC the new Goldeneye Scanner had already a notable impact on the secondary Wood processing market. Since the introduction in May 2013 there have been sold 34 units. More than 60% of sales are completed outside the EU. Additionally in October 2014 the new Goldeneye Scanner wins the Award ADI Design Index. MiCROTEC together with Springer are looking forward for a similar success regarding the patching robot.
The partner LipBled is thinking about setting up a complete automated production line with 6 patching robots at the facilities in Bohinj. This decision depends on some technical and financial issues to be solved. First the work speed of the robot has to be increased by further refinements of the control system.
For TTTech, several lines of exploitation of the project results were identified for future productization. The outcomes of HOL-I-WOOD PR allow for extension of TTTech’s portfolio in time-triggered products. The timeline for the uptake in TTTech’s commercial portfolio is within the next three years that relate to the productization and commercialisation phase of the core TTEthernet technology along the following lines:
Precise high-speed communication switches with integrated application controller;
The TTEthernet network provides a highly synchronous deterministic communication channel for real-time applications, which functions well if all nodes on the network are able to send and receive TTEthernet messages. However, this is not always the case, as not all hardware vendors provide their equipment with TTEthernet interfaces but use standard Ethernet instead. In order to allow for a highly-precise timestamping, the HOL-I-WOOD network architecture had a similar setup where one specific node had this timestamping functionality. In order to in the future provide more flexibility of the functionality that can be used directly within the network, TTTech considers the integration of a generic node that has direct access to the network within its future line of TTEthernet switches. This way, a reduction in the total amount of hardware is envisaged and allows for more customization by its customers.

A second line of activities for TTTech is centered around network synchronisation. One of the challenges in the project was the highly precise synchronisation required in the fast control loops in the prototype combined with the use of heterogeneous networks. In order to tackle these issues, TTTech investigated the potential for bridging between various time synchronisation services in order to allow different network types to use one time base and have system-wide deterministic communication. The investigation yielded very positive results and use case scenarios in the industrial automation domain are currently being evaluated.
List of Websites:
The project web-site was set up at the beginning of the project. http://holiwoodpr.wordpress.com/
please find the contact Details in the attachment

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