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white room based on Reconfigurable robotic Island for optoelectronics

Final Report Summary - WHITER (white room based on Reconfigurable robotic Island for optoelectronics)

Executive Summary:
White’R (white room based on Reconfigurable robotic island for optoelectronics) is be a self-contained white room consisting in a multi-robotic production island that will replace manual assembly with high-accuracy, high-yield, automated methods, to be easily integrated in existing production shop-floors. It will empower the handling, assembly and disassembly of high value added optoelectronic products. The island’s devices - robots, operation units, transport, handling and tooling systems – will be conceived as “Plug&Produce” reusable modules properly configured according to the production requirements.
Main innovation aspects are:
• highly flexible automation to reduce manufacturing cost;
• highly reconfigurable and reusable production modules;
• easy plug/unplug of machinery components to enhance the reusability of the system for different products;

Thus, White’R island configuration is an innovative solution which helps to increase competitiveness of optoelectronic assembly operations: it allows to easily and flexibly integrate white room operations in non white room environment with a very limited investment. The white’R solution represents the first fully automated white room island for the realization of very complex (dis)assembly tasks – traditionally manual - involving complex shape products and extremely fragile materials. On the one hand, this requires an extremely sophisticated and performing mechatronic equipment whose configuration and dynamic behaviour ensures the execution of process operations with highly precision, reliability and repeatability levels. On the other hand, the island is empowered by the intelligence and knowledge for recognizing the products and related processes to be exploited as well as with intelligence for managing the various plug n’ produce modules and coordinating their behaviour under several configurations.

Project Context and Objectives:
In order to implement the ambitious goals of the white’R project, the activities were performed with the focus on the aspects described below.
First period:
▪ Identification of the information characterizing products, production processes and infrastructure and green labelling procedures for island competitive sustainability. Such information has been systemized in a structured infrastructure and evaluated with the objective of developing a number of basic rules deduced from the production dynamics.
▪ Definition of the white’R island’s mechatronic configuration process in order to generate evolving mechatronic configuration solutions based on the integration of several P&P reusable modules as well as modifiable use of modules accordingly to the lifecycle degradation status and the process needs.
▪ Evaluation and selection of the appropriate capabilities, functionalities and settings of the island modules. This would also include the lifecycle assessment of the island modules and their suitability to perform specific tasks over time. In white’R, the context recognition and capability assessment functionalities are conceived as evolving over time on the basis of a number of learning mechanisms implemented in the white’R optimization component.
▪ Investigation of the process automation options and design of the modular and reusable equipment and the tasks necessary to physically manufacture the parts. This relies on the geometric and technological analysis of the family of products, both current and possible forecasted evolutions. Analisys of geometric and technological information along with the white room constraints for determining the design of the fixturing and tooling system, the part setups, the process planning as well as eventual adjustments of the equipment features in order to accomplish a number of KPIs.
▪ Evaluation of costs and dissemination actions in order to define a strategy for the use and exploitation of results in industrial application.

As a result of the project activities done in the first period ( M1- M18), a layout of the white’R production island was analyzed along with a number of scenarios associated to the viable solutions of working stations which can be considered for possible installation and the related process flow. More specifically, the architecture of white’R island was conceived as the integration of a robot manipulator in a self contained white room and the manufacturing island resulting from the design process has been developed to accomplish the production requirements while minimizing the layout dimensions. Also, a compact and agile equipment has been preferred to other solutions and the reconfigurability feature preserves the users from the risk to be unable to match possible future evolutions of the family of products, in terms of demand and technological features.

As consequence, the second period ( M18 – M36) of the project was focused on the following objectives and activities :
• Design of the automation infrastructure, baed on the island and robot architecture. The objective was to comprehensively determine the specifications for the white’R islands HW and SW architecture. By analyzing every resource in the white’R island, its tasks and its relevance a hierarchy has been developed. The process of specifying the connections of each module started from the island configuration and described in depth every element integrated in the layout.
• Set the interaction among modules based on the island features. The procedure has been addressed for both the high power diode and solar cell applications in order to determine both the control and communication features.
• Analysis of evolving conditions.Together with the automation architecture, an instrumental feature of the control refers to its ability to support the reconfigurability of the island modules and, specifically, the robot. Such activity starts with the analysis of the set of exogenous causes requiring a robot reconfiguration, ranging from technological to production aspects as well as the endogenous causes pertaining to the robot behaviour over the time.
• Modules integration in the production environment, once both the mechatronics and the control have been developed.The integration is considered both physically (at shop floor level) and from the production planning perspective. The efficiency and responsiveness of the integrated solution is assessed by the means of KPIs monitoring the performance and impact of the production system and the associated planning system.
• Set-up and ramp-up the island production. This task relied upon the development of a production planning and control tool supporting the increase of the production volumes of good parts.
• Dynamic optimization of the modules behaviour over their lifecycle. It was introduced the problem of dynamically optimizing the operations that the robotic arm designed and implemented for the white’R island must executed during a production process. The operations of the robotic arm were optimized both in an offline phase, before a new production process begins, and in an online phase, in order to react to unplanned events and disruptions, while the island is actually producing a device.

The resulting white’R island have been successively detailed in the demonstration activities. Particularly, WP8 addressed the final design of white’R island with regard to the high power diodes assembly process. It outlines the final specs of the equipment designed for the OPI use case as a result of a first round of prototypes testing. WP9 addressed the final design of white’R island with regard to the solar cells assembly process. It outlines the final specs of the equipment designed for the SCT use case as a result of a first round of prototypes testing.
The focus of both the work-packages was to demonstrate the industrial application of white’R solutions and validate the scientific and technological benefits in the fields of multiemitter high power diode and solar energy systems. The demonstration activities aimed at: Demonstrate the white’R adoption in the assembly/disassembly processes; Demonstrate the white’R versatility and re-configurability in the both industrial reference sectors.
In conclusion, a continuous activity for the overall dissemination and exploitation strategies of the white’R project was performed during the whole period. It goes on to elaborate the categorical strategies of certain partner groups as well as individual strategies employed by the consortium partners. This is followed by a display of the white’R dissemination and exploitation targets and content together with a business plan.

Project Results:
White’R is a production island realizing assembly and disassembly of optoelectronic components enriched with a software infrastructure consisting of five software applications integrated in a unique platform for the production of high value added optoelectronic components.

white'R, as small and fully automated production island, integrates different devices necessary to small-scale assembly. Among the innovations introduced:
- the precision level of the robot, which must have a very good integration with the sensing system in order to take into account the real scene detected;
- white'R compact equipment allows to considerably reduce the floor needed for the same production;
- the re-configurability of white’R robot and of white’R island for different production scenarios;
- sustainability of white’R island will be supported by the publication of a green label;
- the smart communication and sensing systems together with the dynamic production planner and scheduler contribute to the flexibility of white’R island.

The developments that make White’R a unique solution, are the following:

The reconfigurable, modular kinematic chain and end-effectors assemblies is one of the innovation aspects of the cell. The significant difference of this device, compared with similar robots, is in terms of design and performances. In particular, a great success has been obtained creating highly innovative robot parts (modular joints and special tips) using traditional techniques with low cost, low energy, very low environmental impact. In the meanwhile, it has been granted to the robot the capability to ensure high precision (repeatability ±5µm).

CNC solution designed for automatically reconfigurable robots.
Persistent monitoring and dynamic recovery of the robot behavior by the means of a set of strategies.

is an application programming interface used to incorporate all vision detection and recognition algorithms implemented for both OPI and SCT use cases. It incorporates advanced image detection, recognition and pattern localization software techniques, providing guidance to the robotic arm for object manipulation operation in the White’R system.

The camera platform and a compact machine vision camera capable of performing image processing algorithms on the camera itself, based on FPGA System On Chip architecture;
Modularized and optimized camera firmware for extensibility, maintainability, reusability and performance; Integrating new global shutter image sensors.

White’R Energy Assessor Tool (WEATool) is a tool used to assess white’R environmental KPIs all along the project.
Compared to existing tools (e.g. MEErP tool), the WEATool describes with more details the use phase of energy related machinery by analysing the production life of the machine and provides the possibility of creating and confronting different scenarios of use.

White’R Process Planning Module is a software tool used to semi-automatically generate the assembly process plan for each assembly to be produced in the white’R island from the CAD file of the assembly. There are no existing software tools able to extract the process plan from a CAD file of the product. Consequently, most CAPP software do not take into account dynamic rescheduling of the plan.

The software developed can be used in the PC on board in the white’R Island for planning and scheduling activities in the production activities. This is a Software personalized for the use of the white’R. There are other tools for planning and scheduling but this one is built on white’R specifications.

The DES Simulation Framework is a set of functionalities developed within the SIMIO software tool to facilitate the simulation of a configurable mechatronic system for assessment of the performance. The DES Simulation Framework is a customized piece of code for easy and flexible assessment of reconfigurable manufacturing systems. The framework simplifies and speed-up the performance optimization of different configurations of a manufacturing system.

The Middleware & Vision Controller/Adaptor is a software tool which enables the use of the vision system software and hardware in white’R automation systems and manages the execution of the vision system software functionalities in response to commands form the cell supervisor; it also complements the vision system software with functionalities to access the process and configuration databases and manages the automatic synchronization of the images historic database.

Potential Impact:
Commercial impact
White’R unique selling points, when compared to state-of-the-art technology can be summarized as follow:

- 75% space saved thanks to compact solutions
- 77% reduction of energy consumption.
- Increased Product quality. The precision and reliability of robotic arm is higher compared to human failure probability.
- 72% cycle time reduction.
- white’R modules can be very easily integrated, allowing more customization, adaptation and flexibility and they are designed specifically for high variety of products, small benches, different equipment needed.
- white’R sustainable labeling. white’R island will be the first robotic island in the optoelectronics with a green label.

Enviromental impact
The white room robotic island globally results from a development process based on the sustainable principles (environmental, business and economic sustainability) and is undergoing the EU procedure to get the green label, thus representing the first robotic island in the optoelectronics with a green label.

Scientific impact
Submission of more than 18 journal papers (“IEEE Transaction on Robotics” “Springer Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies, Advances in Neural Networks”, ...) and conference proceedings (“European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition”, “CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems”, ...)

Technical impact:
Among the technological innovations introduced there are: the precision level of the robot; white'R compact equipment that allows to considerably reduce the floor needed for the same production; the re-configurability of white’R robot and island; the smart communication and sensing systems with the dynamic production planner and scheduler contribute to the flexibility of white’R island.

Regarding the dissemination activities, the following work has been performed:

• Creation of the white’R website
• Realization of specific dissemination materials (flyers, newsletter, brochures) for dissemination
• Participation to more than 20 European and International relevant events, such as Industrial Technology and World Manufacturing Forum
• Organisation of 3 Panel Sessions, the last one was “Emerging Technologies, Challenges and Opportunities for Industry 4.0” at RTSI 2016, and of a special technical session: “Reconfigurable – modular – adaptive - smart robotic systems for optoelectronic industry: the white’R instantiation”, at WIRN
• Interaction with other EU projects: clustering actions in the area of Maintenance, Repair, Re-use, Adapt promoted by the European Commission in the PPP workshop held in Brussels on March 24-25 2014
• Involvement of potential users

List of Websites:

(Project Coordinator )
(Tech Coordinator)
(dissemination, exploitation, standardization management)