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Factory-in-a-Day project aims to deploy work-ready robots within 24 hours

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December 8, 2013

The Factory-in-a-Day project aims to integrate robots into small and medium enterprise fac...

The Factory-in-a-Day project aims to integrate robots into small and medium enterprise factories to optimize workplace production

Industrial robots have proven useful in reducing production costs in large factories, with major enterprises enlisting their services to execute repetitive tasks. The Factory-in-a-Day project, which kicked off in October, aims to also make robotic technology beneficial to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), by developing adaptable robots that can be integrated with workplace systems within 24 hours.

Until now, SMEs have not been well suited to the benefits of robotic technology as, compared to enterprises of larger size, they rely on a more agile workforce made up of few large machines and many humans completing simple repetitive tasks. Common short-duration batch operations in SMEs, such as packing or checking the quality of seasonal fruit, only have small production periods. As developing and training a robot to execute these tasks can take weeks or even months, the expense generally outweighs the money saved in labor costs.

The research team behind the Factory-in-a-Day project aims to bridge this gap by developing a suite of robots with predefined skills – much like a smartphone comes with applications for different uses. If all goes to plan, this will culminate in a kind of temp agency for robots, where the machines can be leased, are adaptable and can be installed and ready to work within 24 hours.

In order to achieve same-day integration, the work process will first be analyzed by a system integrator to determine which roles can be robotized. Hardware components specific to the customer’s requirements are then 3D-printed and installed on the grippers of the robot. The robot is then taken to the factory and connected to the machinery software and taught how to perform necessary tasks, such as how to grasp an object.

For all this to eventuate, the team anticipates several breakthroughs in robotic technology during the project’s development. With safety a primary concern, the team will work towards developing safe robot arms with novel proximity-sensing skin and dynamic contact-avoiding behaviors. To connect with workplace machinery, they will also work on developing software that will provide compatibility with existing machinery and robots.

In addition, the team hope to compliment standard core hardware modules (such as adaptive grippers and arms) with the capacity to use 3D-printing for task-specific parts, while the development of fast teaching software for on-site programming will theoretically mean only minimal parameters need to be taught by humans.

While the European Union (EU) has taken steps to improve the appeal of industrial robots for SMEs in the past, the Factory-in-a-Day project is the first to do so with such specific and time sensitive goals in mind.

Provided with €11 million (US$15.1 million) by the European Union as part of the wider FP7 (Seventh Framework Programme) named “Factory of the Future," which is backed by an international consortium comprising 16 partners, including research institutes such as Fraunhofer and the Technical University of Munich.

Source: Factory-in-a-Day

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. He now writes for Gizmag, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, Melbourne's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.   All articles by Nick Lavars
5 Comments

At some point in the not so distant future there will not be anything for people to do other than repair robots. Then robots will be programmed to repair robots. Today our newspaper reported that Applebees is pretty much going to replace the job of their waiters with IPads at every table. Cost way more pay a waiter than a computer tablet. No worries about showing up for work or any kind of benefits either. What kind of work is going to be available for the masses of people displaced by machines? Dystopia awaits for sure.

Buellrider
9th December, 2013 @ 07:33 am PST

Technology gives one man the abilities of a thousand men, and then it burdens the Earth with the thousand men it just made obsolete.

Many among us are suffering from what I call the TED Syndrome, named after the famous talks, which is the belief all our problems can be fixed with technology; and sadly all our problems cannot be solved with technology because technology just creates new problems when it sort of fixes a problem

Nelson Hyde Chick
9th December, 2013 @ 11:51 am PST

There will be social adjustments. As the masses of "unemployed" grow, we will redefine how we obtain food, shelter, healthcare, and so on. Having a "job" to pay for our needs will shift to just providing value to society. Our needs will be met just because we are a part of society. We already have this model in place - the millions of our citizens who live on government subsistence.

It will happen gradually enough that we will adapt, but quickly enough that we will be significantly and personally impacted.

And, luckily the costs of providing everything will drop dramatically along the way using robots, automation, 3D printing, and other wonders we have not yet seen.

bill
9th December, 2013 @ 12:26 pm PST

Time to retrain, train laborforce for Future.

Commercial Manned Space

Lunar mining

Deep sea mining & other & to service robots until robots service selves?

Stephen N Russell
9th December, 2013 @ 05:17 pm PST

@ Buellrider

Applebees is pretty much going to replace the job of their waiters with IPads at every table.

That could work to order, but how does the food get from the kitchen to the table?

Or even the supplies into the restaurant, meals prepared, and served..

Yes it is possible to create systems of prepackaged, automated heating/preparation, and conveyor style service.

Unless they plan on drive thru style it will not be the Applebees we know today, sounds more like sheeple @ a trough…

I still prefer to be served by a human being, and tip according to service, politeness, any extras that the service provides especially a friendly smile…

Robots & automation has its place, instant gratification and planned obsolescence to satiate the ever increasing technological wave of machines bettering machines.

Have we lost all human values? Who designs & programs these machines?

HUMANS

Bob Flint
9th December, 2013 @ 05:54 pm PST
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