Success stories from the ERF – Trinity and LOPOS/IMEC – LOMSAS
How to increase safety for human-machine interactions?
Automation in manufacturing allows producers to increase efficiency, grow production capacity and reduce costs all at the same time. Automation in production further helps businesses solve issues related to high staff turnover, shortage of labour force and hazardous working environments. Industrial robots in manufacturing settings are already paving the way for industry 4.0 – creating smart factory solutions through applying AI in production. Robots relieve humans from performing repetitive operations and working in hazardous environments and creating new, well-paying and interesting jobs for engineers and operators. Increased automation allows safe inspection and maintenance procedures yielding speedy high-quality results with reduced waste. Automated inspection and maintenance procedures reduce the potential for human errors through applying machine learning and computer vision techniques when overlooking manufacturing processes. In turn, each product is investigated, controlled and repaired under identical conditions and standards, ensuring full uniformity across all products.
Trinity is sponsoring a range of robotics projects aimed at optimising inspection and maintenance operations, streamlining production processes and ensuring employee safety through implementing intelligent collaborative robots in factories. Trinity seeks to create a network of robotics experts and organisations specialising in tools and methods for sophisticated, agile and reconfigurable production, leading Europe into a prosperous and sustainable future.
The primary challenge in this field was to evaluate the warehouse systems to act as a secondary safeguard so as to prevent collisions between workers and automated AGV. Companies needed location aware systems that are easy to install and require less infrastructure. LOPOS and IMEC created a single, low infrastructure cost system for manufacturing that enables tracking & tracing, the creation of worker safety zones and/or collision detection. The system enables the distance kept in industrial facilities in times of COVID-19 for a safer working environment as is easily converted to standard use.
The hardware, both testbed and LOPOS wearable were already available but the main challenge was the design of the software of the network stack that can intelligently switch between different operational modes and the testbed extensions. Moreover, the project was focusing more on software improvements. However, Eli noted that the safety features of the product could further be extended to conditional operations such as slowdown or no-alarm zones, different behaviour depending on user certifications, integration with the control unit of forklift trucks and reuse products for evacuation management and access control.
TRINITY encouraged them to directly interact with end customers, create a sound business plan and set up visual demonstrations to gather customer feedback. Moreover, TRINITY triggered LOPOS & IMEC to set up collaboration agreements with customers for try-outs as well as access to TRINITY services such as mentoring, dissemination and visibility support and network expansion.