Automation for visionaries

Roboter-mit-Tastsinn_Automation-fuer-Visionaere

Today, monotonous and repetitive tasks in structured production environments are already largely automated around the world. Beyond these applications, industrial automation often still quickly reaches its limits. Companies such as OptoForce are changing this. Haptic sensors give industrial robots a fine sense of touch, significantly expanding the possibilities by enabling complex precision work to be automated.

 

It’s no secret. Automation is on the march. Most companies have long since recognized the competitive advantage it can lend. With a density of 301 industrial robots installed per 10,000 workers, Germany is the fourth most automated country in the world – out-automated only by South Korea, Singapore, and Japan. Collaborative lightweight robots, which can work directly next to or together with humans without requiring protective cages, so-called “cobots”, have made a particularly significant contribution to that number in the past few years.

 

However, for a task to be automated solely with the conventional combination of robotic arm and end effector, it must meet a whole series of requirements:

  • Its workpieces must be objects with standardized dimensions.
  • These objects should also consist of materials that resist deformation.
  • It is also necessary for objects to be located precisely, in positions preprogrammed into the robot.

The result: the ones automated today are primarily monotonous and repetitive tasks that are less demanding.

 

The challenge: breaking out of the box

If the complexity of a task goes beyond this “box”, automation quickly meets its limits – and so large parts of industry are still in baby shoes even today. Unstructured production environments and sensitive materials, after all, are no longer exceptions to the rule. This type of precision task requires a robot to have sensitivity and the capacity to adapt waypoints in real time to achieve the desired results. OptoForce, a manufacturer of six-axis force/torque sensors in Budapest, Hungary, has taken on this problem with the goal of giving lightweight robots a sense of touch. The haptic sensors produced by the young Hungarian company offer a whole series of new applications for industrial robotics – giving automation new perspectives.

 

Looking at industrial production facilities right now, many of these precision tasks are still handled manually:

  • By human hands that can handle sensitive materials with care.
  • That can detect during assembly whether part A has been connected correctly to part B.
  • That can simply pick up workpieces placed in a container in an unstructured manner by feeling them.

Even so, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find human workers for this kind of job – hardly anyone wants to do these monotonous routine tasks.

 

Corporate groups have reacted to this fact for years and decades by moving simple production steps to low-wage countries, while midsized companies are often left with the need to find expensive, less efficient regional solutions. Haptic force/torque sensors now offer widely applicable options for automating new processes, significantly increasing the efficiency of production.

 

The human workforce is thus freed of monotonous, repetitive tasks and can devote their attention to more demanding work steps.

 

Versatile in application

  • Whether in support of automating precision tasks such as precision assembly, surface refinement, or packaging,
  • as a monitoring tool for quality control or data collection,
  • or as a “catalyst” for the integration process, thanks to the software package included, which contains a variety of standard industrial applications,

force/torque sensors are versatile in application. The haptic sensors are connected between the robotic arm and the end effector, with a robust layer of elastic plastic measuring the forces acting along the XYZ axes. The sensors measure about 1,000 items of process data per second – giving the robot direct feedback on whether and how it must adapt its path to the desired goal. The hardware is directly compatible with industrial robots made by KUKA, ABB, andhttp://sensitiveautomation.com/en/2017/11/02/applications-for-haptic-sensors/ Universal Robots.

 

Advantages in comparison with image processing

This data flow offers several advantages over cameras and other image processing systems, which simply capture “still life” images and then act on the basis of this rigid input. Only in a few cases is the delivery and processing of and reaction to process data possible in real time – and that is associated with significant effort. In unstructured production processes – in the sense of workpieces not always located in exactly the same place – haptic sensors thus provide a significant advantage. Even in many structured processes, the “hand” beats the “eye” – for example in the precision insertion of pins into a given opening without play, or when working with glossy surfaces. In applications like these, the error susceptibility of robotic systems can be significantly reduced by implementing sensors.

 

Quick setup thanks to software included

A significant differentiating feature of OptoForce is the inclusion of a complete integrated package. Thanks to the software applications included, the sensors are ready to operate in less than 15 minutes.

The software package included contains a variety of standard industrial applications such as palletization, polishing, stacking, and hand guidance, and is always being extended with new applications. Thanks to its intuitive integration into the user interface of the robotic arm, even untrained employees without programming skills can easily implement the corresponding applications in a short time.

 

Automation perspectives

These force/torque sensors, weighing only 260 grams, may be a literal lightweight, but they should have a hefty influence on industrial manufacturing in the German-speaking region.

 

Thanks to the new perspectives they offer in process automation, as well as the volume of precision data they can feed into a smart factory, force/torque sensors have the potential to become a real game changer in industrial robotics – setting off a domino effect of changes from process design to personal development to planning reliability.

 

In the evolution of lightweight robots with rapid economic and long-term strategic effects on manufacturing companies, the sense of touch is the logical next step.

Privacy Policy for processing and protecting personal data

This data protection policy applies to OnRobot.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure and document that OnRobot protects personal data in accordance with the rules for processing of personal data. The policy will also contribute to OnRobot providing information about its processing and use of registered personal data.

The policy will be reviewed each year.

Record of the processing of personal data

OnRobot processes personal data about:

  • Employees

  • Customers

  • Suppliers

  • Applicants

OnRobot has prepared a record of the processing of personal data. The record provides an overview of the processing for which OnRobot is responsible.

The personal data must be provided in order for OnRobot to enter into employment, customer and supplier contracts.

Purpose and lawfulness of the processing

Personal data are processed and archived in connection with:

  • HR management, including recruitment, hiring, dismissal and payment of salary

  • Master data for customers as well as orders and sales

  • Master data for suppliers as well as requisition forms and purchases

  • Contracts

Processing is legal by the authority specified in the appended record.

OnRobot does not use the personal data for purposes other than those listed. OnRobot does not collect more personal data than necessary to meet the purpose. 

Storage and erasure

OnRobot has introduced the following overall guidelines for storage and erasure of personal data:

  • Personal data are stored in physical folders.

  • Personal data are stored in IT systems and on server drives.

  • Personal data are not stored for longer than necessary to meet the purpose of the processing.

  • Personal data for employees are erased five years after employment has ended, and personal data about applicants are erased after six months.

Data security

Based on the appended risk assessment, OnRobot has implemented security measures to protect personal data:

  • Only employees with a work-related need to access the registered personal data have access to the data, either physically or via IT systems with rights management.

  • All computers are password protected and employees may not disclose their passwords to others.

  • Computers must have firewall and antivirus software installed, which must be updated regularly.

  • Personal data are erased securely in connection with phasing-out and repair of IT equipment.

  • USB flash drives, external hard disks, etc. containing personal data must be stored in a locked drawer or cabinet.

  • Physical folders are placed in a locked office or in locked cabinets.

  • Personal data in physical folders are erased by shredding.

  • All employees must be instructed in what to do with personal data and how to protect personal data.

 

Website and Cookie

  • The Personal Data Regulation allows you to treat personal data only legally for the purpose for which they have been collected. If you want to use data for purposes other than the original, you must always have the consent of the registrant.

  • Upon receipt of a business card from a customer you have his consent. If you write his information you need his signature on this paper to have a formal requirement for consent if you want to use his information. Then the customer allows OnRobot to use his data for purposes other than communication, upcoming promotions, product updates or further news including upcoming promotions, product updates and further news.

  • According to the Cookie Act, OnRobot must have the user’s consent to use this software on the user’s equipment. On The company’s intranet or similar closed group, the rules in the E-data protection directive do not apply.

Disclosure

Personal data about employees may be disclosed to public authorities such as the Danish Customs and Tax Administration and pension companies.

Processors

OnRobot only uses processors if they are able to provide the required guarantees that they will implement appropriate technical and organisational security measures to comply with personal data law. All processors must sign a processor agreement before processing commences.

Rights                                                                      

OnRobot safeguards the rights of data subjects, including the right to access, withdrawal of consent, rectification and erasure and will inform the data subjects of OnRobot’s processing of personal data. Data subjects are also entitled to appeal to the Danish Data Protection Agency.

Personal data breach

In case of personal data breach, OnRobot will report the breach to the Danish Data Protection Agency as soon as possible and within 72 hours. The manager is responsible for this reporting taking place. The report will outline the breach, the groups of persons affected and the impact the breach may have on these persons and how OnRobot has remedied or intends to remedy the breach. If the breach entails a high risk for the persons about whom OnRobot processes personal data, OnRobot will also notify these persons. OnRobot s will document any personal data breach on an access-controlled drive.

Erasure of data

The customer should assess when personal data need to be erased by asking the question:

When is it no longer necessary to store the personal data?

OnRobot follows the practice of the Danish Data Protection Agency:

Applications Are erased after 6 months in connection with job interviews. Unsolicited applications are erased immediately.
Employee data Are erased 5 years after termination of employment.
CCTV surveillance Is erased after 30 days.
Telephone conversations Are erased immediately or after up to 3 months.
Accounting records Must be stored for 5 years from the end of the financial year.


 

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