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LIssage de COrdons Robotisé Novateur Expert

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - LICORNE (LIssage de COrdons Robotisé Novateur Expert)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

The project takes place in an automotive paint shop context which matches the vision of excellence for the “plant of the future”, that is to say a flexible industrial plant, able to be adapted to the production rate variations. It must protect its operators to avoid the physical solicitations; it should have the capacity to adapt its control processes to ensure a constant and good quality in order to avoid expensive revises. Sealing sector, as the first in-line Paint Shop sector, is an essential point to be controlled. More than 60 different sealant sealing beads are placed on the car. Each sealing bead has to be controlled and some formed, to avoid water entries or issues in the assembly line.

LICORNE aims at answering to societal challenges in the industry, including qualification and ergonomics :
Optimisation of the sealing operations is engaged for many years and automation is introduced progressively. This process improvement allows to progress on the repeatability and to remove heavy operations such as the manipulation of the back door. Manual operations could generate Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) due to the working position with hands above the heart.
However, manual operations still remain because some sealing beads still have to be formed after the deposition of the PVC material. Some of these sealing beads require for the operators to work in hard positions which can lead to MSD.

LICORNE also aims at the following specific objectives :
- Product Quality
- Improve the final product quality thanks to the treatment of the sealing defects as soon as detected during the manufacturing process.
- Improve the effectiveness to a 100% ratio when we are today around 80%
- Economic
- Allow the car manufacturers to reduce their hours per vehicle (HPV), this is a key production indicator used as reference to compare all plants in the world.
- Society
- Create activities requiring higher qualifications involving installation supervision or maintenance
- Improve work conditions for a better employability of the ergonomic restricted workers.
- Environment
- Optimize processes to reduce material consumption and energy saving.
- Industrial Technologies
- Allow the partners to work on an industrial line to accelerate their development and reach faster to selling conditions.
- Possess a completely integrated and automatized solution able to be set-up in every plant targeting the “Plant of the Future” ambitions
- Design a flexible visual control system deployable in all types of industrial plants.
As described in the Proposal, aim of the first period of the LICORNE project was to create a functional cell of automatic bead forming in order to realize industrial tests during the second period and gather the necessary information to keep on with the following actions:
- Improve the existing system after a representative number of repetition
- Build a second cell able to detect and alert on any defect of bead deposition or forming
- Develop a simplified big data system to prevent any derivation of the process newly installed

As a matter of fact, the perturbation on the ignition of the project due to the departure of one of the participants has compromised the respect of this planning from the beginning. Discussions to keep the participant in the consortium and later to find a good replacement took no far from six months. Indeed, the Grant Agreement has been signed only in July.

Nonetheless, preparation of the production line to welcome the new robots has been started as soon as December 2015, continued on August 2016. Some part of the work has even been done during production period when possible. At the end of October the platform was already equipped with two robots, without bead forming tool or aspiration system yet but all setting up plans where defined.

In parallel of that, tests have been realized on our two test platforms:
- At RINGLER’s: trials to find the good aspiration system in order to evacuate the bead material and avoid any occlusion resulting in an aspiration power loss. Still left to solve the matter of material evacuation not to clot the hose. A non-definitive solution has been identified that will allow to start the in-line tests with “cleaning balls”, but main objective is still to simplify the cleaning process and have an installation as automated as possible.
This work has been held with CNRS which developed plasma treatment that would make the hose system anti-adhesive. So far the results are promising even though a good solution to transfer laboratory knowledge and results to industrial feasibility is yet to finalize.
- At PSA Poissy center: trials to conceive the best forming tool, compatible with aspirated material, complex trajectories and easiness to maintain. Solution of a 3D conception has been chosen, allowing a faster realization process and more freedom of conception. The shape and material of the tool have been co-validated with CNRS.
PSA also implanted one of the aspiration systems on its test platform before sending it to its definitive location in Mulhouse. Objective was to create the trajectories for the robots before the in-line test in order to avoid any unnecessary perturbation on the production line. Work has been done on every vehicle presently produced in Mulhouse.

Concerning the following steps, CLEMESSY has started the conception of its own test platform in order to validate the choices made on materials and equipment able to detect the defect of bead forming. Exploitation of a photo database of defects will be essential to the parametrization of the detection cell.
CTAG has started the inventory of all relevant parameters to be included in the algorithm. The tools to be used in order to insure compatibility with existing information system in PSA are defined. Next steps include the construction of the algorithm and its inclusion in the detection system.
So far, there is no concrete application of the LICORNE project. Yet, there are several interesting points:
- Use of an automated system to realize bead forming on every part of the car has been demonstrated possible on the test platforms and will soon be shown in in-line conditions. This would allow suppressing ergonomic difficulties of manual bead forming operation. The application and expected gain could be seen as soon as the first trimester of 2017. It means concentrating the work of operatives on more valued operations such as installation driving meaning an elevation of the skill level asked to run a paintshop or whatever industrial operation needing bead forming. By doing so, it is also an opportunity for aspiration specialized companies to find a new market in the industrial production process, not limited to basic cleaning solutions.
- Work on detection of defect shows promising scope of application in industries where quality is one of the main concerns, even with reduced sized defects such as water entering or paint aspect. This would also have to be traduced by new trainings and adapted competencies of the existing personnel to give them the necessary autonomy to prepare the arrival of a new vehicle or a change in production rhythm for example.
- The work on plasma treatment in an industry of mass production such as the automotive one could also represent a new market to companies specialized in this technology. It would mean adapt to new constraints on repeatability and duration.
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