Project Highlight: Automation of Manufacturing Defects Correction using Robots

Our May Project Highlight features the ARM-funded Technology Project: Automation of Manufacturing Defects Correction using Robots. 

Project Participants

Siemens Corporation (Principal Investigator), CCAM (Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing), and Yaskawa

Motivation

Manufacturing processes yield parts with imperfections that require correcting and finishing steps. The needed finishing tasks are typically completed manually and are often both time-consuming and costly with human operators working in ergonomically challenging positions in dusty, noisy conditions. The manual operations also suffer from inconsistent results.

Additionally, the operations require a specific skillset that is becoming increasingly difficult to find. An automated solution would help to augment this workforce gap and free up the skilled human operators to work on higher value tasks.

The Approach

This project team is working to develop and demonstrate an automated finishing process consisting of a robot-based scanning system and robot-based corrective system. The team is developing the process based on a use case from Siemens Energy, with the project demonstration centering on finishing a rotor compressor derived from a heavy duty gas turbine. In this case, surface imperfections and burrs are formed on edges and the current manual corrective process is lengthy, tedious, and completed in unsafe conditions (high vibrations, noisy, dusty, and ergonomically unfriendly positions) while yielding inconsistent results.

Success will be measured by the number of defects, the reduction in manual tasks, and overall reduction in the time it takes to complete.

Benefits

Current manual deburring operations for a large turbine disc takes between 14 to 21 hours per disc, with 16-18 discs per turbine. This automated solution seeks to reduce manual work by 80%-90%, minimizing operator fatigue and improving working conditions. This will also result in manufacturing cost reduction, reduced throughput time, and more consistent results, reducing inspection and rework time.

The proposed solution would also act as the final operation before the part is moved to assembly. This will minimize the risk of insufficient/ improper deburring at the assembly stage, which can cause blade assembly challenges.

Next Steps

In March, this project team reached the 75% completion mark. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the project team has been able to continue work on setting up, aligning, and testing the robotic cell safely at the CCAM facility. Once completed, CCAM with virtual assistance from Siemens will begin to integrate and perform experimental testing in preparation for a final demonstration. In accordance with social distancing, the project team plans to conduct the final demonstration and presentation entirely online.

As with all of our projects, ARM Members will have access to the project outputs. ARM Members can also access formal reports and presentations from the project team in the ARM Member Community.

About ARM

The ARM Institute spurs innovations in robotics and workforce development, strengthening the US industrial base and bringing desperately needed solutions to the factory floor. Our mission has never been more important. Our infrastructure that allows us to facilitate seamless national collaboration also allows us to continue our work during this time of national crisis. During this time, we will continue funding new projects, safely working on our active projects, bringing new digital learning opportunities to our members, and more. Learn more about membership by emailing [email protected].

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