Spring Rate Feedback
This system uses a Fanuc collaborative robot for an Aerospace Test and Measurement application. Designed in SOLIDWORKS to be compact for limited space requirements, this system is also RIA safety compliant and features a UL 508A certified control panel and vision system providing closed-loop feedback to multi-access precision stages to align units for testing. Multiple part numbers and configurable test parameters allow for maximum user and tester flexibility.
When a customer in the aerospace industry needed a new test procedure to produce more accurate and consistent measurement results, capture data, and overall improve their current manual process, they called PrimeTest® Automation to evaluate their existing production process and develop an automated solution that would help them reach those goals.
Their process consisted of multiple parts that were being tested manually, which meant both manual placement and alignment of each part. This often resulted in errors if parts were not positioned perpendicular to the axis of displacement. The process also tested a variety of parts; therefore, a wide range of applied force and/or displacement was necessary to test each part properly. The process relied on the operator’s judgment which did not allow for good gauge R&R. The parts were then sorted and labeled by hand and the results were then recorded manually, leading to many opportunities for human error. This process was fairly slow, each part took 5-7 minutes to test and had a greater than 30% error rate.
Overall, their test method was inefficient and needed to be updated with a more modern automated system. They looked to PrimeTest® Automation, an experienced systems integrator who specializes in test and measurement, to design a new system employing a robotic machine tending and automated data collection.
To improve their process, we designed an automated test and measurement solution featuring collaborative robotic machine tending to allow for easy operator interaction and an HMI for digital collecting and recording of data.
The customer’s batch process of loading and unloading parts was limited to a small space to deploy parts and interact with a machine so there was a need for an unencumbered system, such as no opening or closing doors. Proper guarding would have been bulky for their limited space; therefore, we chose a collaborative robot to handle the automated machine tending. The collaborative robot allowed for an operator to closely monitor and interact with the process as needed.
Although a collaborative robot was used, a risk assessment, driven by RIA standards, identified pinch points around the section of rotary servo motors. These areas needed to be accessed by both robot and operator for part loading and tool changing therefore we opted to use hard guard and a light curtain around those specific areas to be fully compliant.
The system was designed to connect to the customers’ existing network. The system would collect the test results and automatically print the labels for each part. The collected information would then be recorded automatically into the customers database.
The automated systems we built feature a Fanuc CR- 7iA collaborative robot, a Schunk collaborative gripper, a UL 508A certified control panel and a National Instruments driven vision system, providing closed-loop feedback to multi-access precision stages to align part for testing.
A touchscreen PC running a custom HMI application developed by PrimeTest® Automation using National Instruments vision development module of LabVIEW was used to input Barcodes, select part numbers, and various other tasks allowing for configurable test parameters for maximum user and tester flexibility.
The new automated test and measurement system helped our customer significantly improve their process. By automating their test and data collection, we were able to create a repeatable test process that allowed for better accuracy, reducing their gauge R&R error rate from over 30% down to significantly less than 10%.
The automated system also improved output by cutting down process time for each part by more than 90% allowing many more parts to be processed per day.