Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fast, Flexible And Strong: Building Better Automated Workplace Assistants

Date:
July 24, 2009
Source:
ICT Results
Summary:
Researchers have built a prototype intelligent work assistant device, that supports smooth interaction between a human operator and an automated assistant, and developed software that helps protect the health and safety of the human operator.

To compete worldwide, European manufacturers have to compensate for an older, higher-paid, and better-protected workforce. A European research programme has prototyped an automated workstation to safely boost worker productivity.

Manufacturers know that modern factories have to be fast and flexible to compete in the international marketplace. Whether they are making automobiles, aeroplanes or advanced electronics, manufacturers must be able to modify existing products, develop new ones, and move them quickly from the drawing board to the marketplace.

A key component of such modern factories is the flexible production cell – a workstation staffed by a worker with the training and tools to carry out a variety of operations and to shift quickly from one task to another.

In theory, flexible production stations can combine the speed, precision, and error-free performance of a robotic workstation with a skilled human worker’s ability to modify or re-configure a process quickly and easily.

While it is highly desirable, such seamless integration of people and machines is still in its infancy.

CyberManS (for Cybernetic Manufacturing Systems) is an EU-funded research initiative that has taken two important steps towards that goal.

The CyberManS consortium has built a prototype intelligent work assistant device, or IWAD, that supports smooth interaction between a human operator and an automated assistant, and developed software that helps protect the health and safety of the human operator.

Worker safety from the start

Alessandro Levizzari, from FIAT’s Research Centre and the coordinator of CyberManS, emphasises that in Europe, ergonomics – the physical and procedural factors that impact worker comfort, health and safety – must come first.

“Our philosophy is to have knowledge and awareness of the ergonomics not at the end of the process but at the start,” he says. “It’s important to anticipate the ergonomic evaluation of the workplace from the design phase on.”

Daimler, one of the consortium’s 11 partners, took the lead in developing a new software interface to facilitate good ergonomic design from the earliest phases of a project.

The interface brings together most of the tools – including a database of potential risk factors and current guidelines – needed to ensure that a new manufacturing process can be carried out by a worker in a safe and sustainable way. In addition, the software supports the collection and interpretation of video and electromyography data as a worker carries out a real or simulated task.

Electromyography measures and records patterns of muscle activity, and can help determine if a task demands overly intense or prolonged muscle activation.

The software package also includes ways of comparing the costs of different manufacturing and ergonomic approaches.

“What is new,” says Levizzari, “is to contain all of these in one interface, and to have that available when you are thinking about your plant and your workplaces.”

Humans and robots working together

The CyberManS team believes that developing IWADs is critical to the success of European manufacturing. Combining the skills of all of their industrial and academic partners, the project developed a prototype IWAD aimed at facilitating fast and accurate welding operations under realistic conditions.

The workstation consists of a manipulator some four metres high, plus an automated welding gun equipped with haptic and vision systems.

In addition to reducing the operator’s physical effort, the welding gun uses optical sensors to provide intuitive, tactile feedback.

Levizzari explains that in many manufacturing operations, for example building a car, welds have to be made at precise locations, some of which may be out of sight and can only be reached in a particular way.

His team designed their prototype IWAD in part to help the operator guide the welding gun to its target efficiently.

“If the operator tries to move the welding gun in the wrong direction, the gun becomes harder and harder to move,” says Levizzari. “Until now, that kind of advanced feedback didn’t exist on the traditional welding gun.”

Three months of testing at the FIAT research centre showed that the prototype IWAD helped human welders work faster, more accurately, and with less effort.

Levizzari is encouraged by the consortium’s initial results, but makes it clear that further work is needed.

He emphasises that they have just begun to evaluate the potential benefits of their products to worker health and safety, as well as to fast and flexible productivity.

“We have shown that these are good ideas, and that they can help European workers and manufacturers,” he says. “But now it is important to see if it is possible to develop similar systems throughout European industry.”

The CyberManS initiative received funding from the ICT strand of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ICT Results. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

ICT Results. "Fast, Flexible And Strong: Building Better Automated Workplace Assistants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090717090952.htm>.
ICT Results. (2009, July 24). Fast, Flexible And Strong: Building Better Automated Workplace Assistants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090717090952.htm
ICT Results. "Fast, Flexible And Strong: Building Better Automated Workplace Assistants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090717090952.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Twitter, Apple Social Data Purchases Likely to Spur More Mergers and Acquisitions

Twitter, Apple Social Data Purchases Likely to Spur More Mergers and Acquisitions

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) The social media data space is likely to see more mergers and acquisitions following Twitter Inc.'s acquisition of tweet analyzer Gnip Inc. on Tuesday and Apples Inc.'s purchase of Topsy Labs Inc. back in December. One firm in particular, the U.K.'s DataSift Inc., could be on the list of potential buyers. Among other social media startups that could be ripe for picking is Banjo, whose mobile app provides aggregated content by topic and location. Banjo could also be a good fit for Twitter. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox to Liquidate After Rebuilding Rejected

Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox to Liquidate After Rebuilding Rejected

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has agreed to liquidate after a Japanese court rejected its plans to rebuild, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in February after announcing about 850,000 bitcoins, worth around $454 million at today's rates, may have been stolen by hackers. It has since recovered 200,000 of the missing bitcoins. The court put Mt. Gox's assets under a provisional administrator's control until bankruptcy proceedings begin. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
BlackBerry: The Crash That Launched 1,000 Startups

BlackBerry: The Crash That Launched 1,000 Startups

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Tech startups in BlackBerry's hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, are tapping talent from the struggling smartphone company and filling the void left in the region by its meltdown. Reuters correspondent Euan Rocha visits the region that could become Canada's Silicon Valley. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins