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PROGRAMMING AND SIMULATION DURING ROBOT IMPLEMENTATION
If we consider the economic benefits of robotic applications, it is important not to focus entirely on the development and ongoing operation of the system. Because the smoothest possible startup of the system also makes a significant contribution. Smart engineering tools that offer consistency from engineering to maintenance can ensure that commissioning does not turn into a costly process.
In many cases, the startup of robotic systems is still highly inefficient today – and thus a decisive cost driver. This is especially true if it is not adequately taken into account in the first calculations. “Today, robot systems are in many cases consistently simulated in advance and are programmed offline. But when you put the robots into operation in the field, this consistency usually breaks down,” explains Dr. Rainer Jäkel, CTO of ArtiMinds. ” If modifications are still required during startup, which happens in most cases, it creates a lot of work for the user.” As a result, robot applications are sometimes considered somewhat difficult to calculate, which in turn can become a brake on the use of industrial robots.
FORWARD-LOOKING ACTIVITY – ACTIONABLE RESPONSE
With the use of networked tools, however, the startup can be carried out in a more controlled manner and without a great loss of time. Simulation, sensor technology, data analysis and manual interventions by commissioning engineers or maintenance personnel are then combined into a harmonized team. As far-reaching as possible, predictive activities, e.g. the use of sensor technology to record tolerances, are closely interlocked with actionable response through the digital tools.
„There are two approaches today: Either you rely on a deep toolchain, but then you have to deal with many breaks between simulation, programming, commissioning and service. Or you use highly simplified software that supports startup, such as exists for cobots. In this case, however, many functions and advanced tools are missing,” said Dr. Sven Schmidt-Rohr, CEO of ArtiMinds, describing the previous challenge for users. “ArtiMinds now enables a paradigm shift – both approaches are combined: the engineering chain thus becomes continuous all the way to maintenance, but without the user having to accept any loss of functionality. Many users are not yet aware of the advantages this brings, especially in the startup phase.” Important elements of the digital toolchain are:
- 1. An easy-to-understand hardware-independent representation of the robot program that can be quickly adapted and evaluated in a simulation environment.
- 2. The use of sensor technology for continuous data collection and an adaptive process.
- 3. The continuous collection of plant and robot data as a basis for process-related analysis tools.
- 4. The ability to easily reconcile manual corrections made by maintenance personnel on the plant, whether with the simulation environment or analysis tools.
Technically, ArtiMinds focuses on the machine-independent mapping of the robot program. “This means that the user can quickly create robot programs from the start or easily parameterize previously developed processes – without having to start from scratch again and again,” emphasizes Jäkel. “That’s why we’ve also consistently geared our software toward process simplification during startup: adapting, testing and verifying – directly on site, quickly, straightforwardly and purposefully.” With this approach, it is possible to clearly combine and synchronize both the verification in the simulation, the targeted data analysis and manual corrections on the plant. For this purpose, ArtiMinds uses an image of a robot program based on process templates, the ArtiMinds Robot Task Model (ARTM). “Startup changes and corrections can thus be validated on the job site before they are tested in real life,” Jäkel continues. “This is not possible, or only possible at great expense, with the classic simulation tools.”
PROGRAMMING WITHOUT WRITING CODE
From planning to commissioning, the ArtiMinds software supports uncomplicated programming without textual code. In addition to process templates, such as monitored gripping, force-controlled joining or camera-based depositing, the logical functions of a programming language are available, as are extensive interfaces. The native robot code generated from the tool runs like a manually written robot program on the robot’s standard controller. This allows automatic recording, annotation as well as sending of acquired data during production to an edge environment. The application’s sub-processes, which are broken down into easy-to-understand execution blocks, are analyzed based on real process data. The user can monitor the robustness of the process via a browser interface, investigate deviations or have improvements calculated based on multiple process runs. The latter offers the possibility to replace the classical commissioning, which is characterized by incalculable adjustments, by a transparent, target-oriented and data-driven approach.
The data-driven support is complemented by the ability to adjust teach points directly on the plant using the robot manufacturer’s standard tools and simply play them back into the ArtiMinds representation. As a result, changes are available in both the simulation and analysis software. The backup of planned or short-term changes can thus be made at any time with the digital robot program. Particularly when it comes to the time-consuming adaptation of teach points, the close integration of programming and simulation means a faster, more robust and better plannable startup process.
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THE EFFECTIVE INTERACTION OF ALL DOMAINS
„When modifications are made to the application during startup, many domains are affected – simulation, programming, or data analysis,” Schmidt-Rohr sums up. “The software from ArtiMinds brings all these areas together as a connecting link. Through automatically generated robot code as well as the automatic play back of teach points, the solution integrates seamlessly into the existing commissioning and maintenance processes. In this way, effective interaction between all disciplines involved is possible.” CTO Jäkel adds: “With its software solutions, ArtiMinds offers added value that is already familiar from initial engineering or PLC programming: transparency and consistency. Our solution thus massively supports the startup. The tools from engineering can also be used directly on the construction site.“
The end result is a robot line that continues to meet all cycle time and availability requirements, but can also be efficiently commissioned and maintained, while at the same time being easier to plan.
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