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Automation and Robotics for EUropean Sustainabile manufacturing

Final Report Summary - AREUS (Automation and Robotics for EUropean Sustainabile manufacturing)

Executive Summary:
The AREUS project improves the sustainability of robotic manufacturing by providing a set of integrated innovative technologies and engineering platforms, intrinsically interdisciplinary, modular and configurable, based on four innovations:

1. An integrated set of Energy Consumption reduction technologies (R-ECO) based on a novel factory electrical power supply system to exchange, harvest, store and recover energy at factory level, improving the use of renewable energy sources. Such novel electrical architecture will reduce the overall energy consumption, using less copper and transformers stages, while improving at the same time the power quality.
2. A Robotic production systems Integrated Design and simulation environment (R-ID) for the eco-efficient design of robotic plants, focused on the simulation of energy flows under a co-evolving product-process-robotic production systems approach. Such new engineering tools
3. A Robotic manufacturing processes OPTimization environment (R-OPT) for the optimal sustainable production scheduling under a control engineering approach.
4. LCA methods (R-LCA) to assess and optimize both environmental and economic costs, linked with the flows of Material, Energy and Waste (MEW) of co-evolving products and processes realized with robotic production systems

These building blocks enable the modular and scalable/progressive development of singularly optimized sustainable robotic manufacturing applications, as well as the re-adaptation of existing production facilities, and have been successfully demonstrated on seven industrial case studies for their future exploitation.

Project Context and Objectives:
Industrial Robotics is the strategic technology needed to materialize the Industry 4.0 and to keep European Manufacturing at a leading edge but, unfortunately, it is intrinsically energy intensive and its massive adoption would compromise factories’ sustainability, in terms of both environmental and financial impact.

AREUS envisioned and investigated a novel intelligent Factory architecture focused on energy efficiency and sustainable robotic manufacturing. AREUS strategical focus is on industrial robotics energy efficiency and a DC based factories electrical power supply architecture, which promises to solve the sustainability of the Industry 4.0 factories of the future. Furthermore, AREUS software and control tools will enable to reduce the energy consumption also of existing robotic plants, improving their profitability and reducing their environmental impact.

The main objectives of the project are:

The development of a novel factory electrical power supply system, customized for robotic intensive applications with extensive energy storage, exchange and reuse at factory level;
The development of a novel generation of industrial smart grids with improved use of renewable energy at factory level and with smart monitoring of energy consumption for intelligent production scheduling;
The development of a new generation of Industrial Robots electrical architecture;
The development of new Eco-efficient simulation tools for the design and development of robotic processes, evaluating and optimizing also energy consumption;
The development of new Eco-efficient optimization tools for the optimization of the overall energy consumption without affecting final productivity;
The Re-design and/or re-adaptation of existing robotic production facilities, introducing maximum energy efficiency and/or sustainable manufacturing;
The development of novel engineering methods for the optimization of existing robotic plants, reducing costs and improving sustainability;
The development of new LCA methods, focused on highly automated plants, focused on assessing the sustainability of highly automated manufacturing plants;

All the AREUS objectives have been fully achieved and demonstrated on 7 demonstration facilities, involving 13 robots. In such demonstration facilities the Consortium proved the viability of the new technologies developed in the industrial environments, showing their technical and economic advantages both to the end-users and to the technology providers partners.

Project Results:
AREUS has developed an innovative DC-based industrial smart grid, which enables the extensive exchange and recuperation of energy at factory level, as well as the seamless integration of renewable energy sources, has been successfully developed and demonstrated. Such novel DC-based industrial smart grid may revolutionize the Factories of the Future’s power supply architecture, improving the energy efficiency and the integration of renewable energy sources, while virtually eliminating any problem related with the electrical energy quality, which now often compromises the modern factories productivity and profitability.

AREUS DC-based industrial smart grid would also need much less copper and other precious metals used at state of the art.
AREUS DC industrial smart grid will be the AREUS technological foundation and proved to achieve up to 20% (on average 5-9%). Several innovative AREUS DC smart grid products have been developed, including a novel generation of industrial robots.

AREUS new generation of robot simulation and control tools are able to calculate and optimize with superior accuracy the whole energy consumption of robotic cells and plants using Energy Signature based approaches. New energy-efficient robot trajectories have been successfully developed while very innovative optimization tools showed to be able to drastically reduce the energy consumption of robotic processes while assuring the same productivity and final quality.

Such novel optimization tools can be used both during design of new robotic cells and processes and for their management, during the whole lifecycle. The results obtained are outstanding, even better than planned and forecasted, achieving a reduction of the energy consumption up to 40% while keeping the same productivity and manufacturing quality. The AREUS Consortium expects to achieve final impact even higher than planned once the systems will enter into the market, for this reason the industrial partners increased their efforts. Finally, preliminary versions of Life Cycle assessment tools, specifically developed for robotic and highly automated manufacturing plants, have been developed, addressing both environmental and financial aspects. All the innovations developed have been deployed in a version for large enterprises and in another one for SMEs.

Potential Impact:
AREUS developed 7 main exploitable results:

1. DC smart grid: a DC-based electrical power supply smart grid architecture to save energy, reduce costs and increase the reliability
2. DC-Robot architecture: a novel generation of industrial robots able to work from 600V DC smart grid without additional conversion stages
3. M-REC: Energy consumption-based robot simulation tool: a tool chain integrated with current robot simulation tools to predict and optimize robot cells energy consumption
4. Energy efficient robot trajectories: novel energy-optimal robot path-planners
5. Multi-robot scheduling and optimization software (SW) tools: an optimization tool included in the Sequence Planner tool, which can be used to reduce the energy consumption of individual industrial robots, as well as for multi-robot systems
6. PLC software tool for energy optimal control of robot stations: a new control structure, which automatically generates energy-optimal robot programs
7. R-LCA: SW tool for Industry applicable sustainability assessment: an innovative set of tools and methods, which allow to assess the Life Cycle sustainability of robotic plants in terms of both environmental and economic aspects

The exploitable results developed have the potential to disrupt the Factories of the future, introducing a radical change able to drastically reduce their carbon footprint and Lifecycle cost.

By itself, the AREUS DC smart grid has proved to be able to potentially reduce up to 20% of the Energy Consumption, while, at the same time, to eliminate the ever increasing problems related with the quality of energy. In real life applications, it is reasonable to reduce 5-9% of Energy Consumption, but the greater advantages will be strategic: in fact, the AREUS DC power supply electrical architecture will integrate seamlessly renewable energy sources (which nowadays are still not really convenient in terms of payback time and ROI), and enhance the possibility to recuperate energy. Such DC power supply architecture will provide the best performance with large, distributed robotic plants, where the energy can be massively recuperated and distributed between different cells and facilities. Industrial smart grids still need a lot of work to be really implemented at factory level but promise to achieve high performance and disrupt the state of the art.

AREUS simulation tools for the sequence planning and control of complex robotic processes will be fundamental to develop robotic processes with many robots sharing the same workzone. Automated, or just computer-aided AREUS sequencing tools proved to develop better processes and to reduce both energy consumption and cycle time. In several demonstration cases energy consumption was reduced of more than 20% just re-organizing the sequences. The potential market seems very high.
Time-scaling AREUS tools are able to quickly reduce the energy consumption of further 8-15% and in the future might be integrated in the PLC supervisory controls or on-the-cloud within an Industrial Internet of Things infrastructure. AREUS energy optimal trajectories can lead to great energy savings: up to 30%. Total energy consumption reductions up to 40% were achieved.

AREUS LCA tools proved to aid the final users in the optimal choice of different solutions and processes and should be further automated.

Each exploitable result led to the development of different tools and products addressed respectively to large companies and SMEs, the outstanding results achieved led the industrial partners of the Consortium to foresee additional revenues of more 120 M€/year once brought to market, while the energy savings would bring savings of several M€/year, still hard to compute.
It is important to underline that to achieve such huge impact, (with also the related new jobs), it is fundamental to realize and implement new specific standards.
Two spinoffs (Sekvensa and the AREUS new partner Systemworks) will exploit specific results.

The AREUS Consortium carried out intense demonstration activities, executed on 7 demonstration facilities, in particular four experimental robotic demo cells involving 13 robots. In such demonstration facilities the Consortium proved the viability of the new technologies developed in the industrial environments, showing their technical and economic advantages both to the end-users and to the technology providers partners.

AREUS carried out also a successful dissemination, addressing scientific, industrial and general public audience.
During the 36 months of the project, more than 27 scientific peer reviewed papers have been produced, exceeding the already ambitious goal of 18, while several international conferences keynotes speeches were on AREUS. 6 focused press releases generated more than 100 articles on AREUS while several interviews were published in come of the most important national newspapers and TV channels.

AREUS gained a great visibility also on social media, in particular the AREUS youtube channel had a great success, achieving even more than 20.000 views in a single week. Finally, AREUS was present in many industrial trade fairs, including the Hannover Messe and Automatica.

List of Websites:

coordinator: prof. Marcello Pellicciari,

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