Automation with Dexterity at the Robotics Competence Center of the WIFI OÖ
rong>Recently introduced by KEBA, the active contact flange for sensitive automation tasks has been in use in practical application since January 2011 at the Robotics Competence Center of the WIFI Upper Austria in Linz.
Recognised throughout Austria, the WIFI (Wirtschaftsförderungsinstitut) or Economic Development Institute is an institution with numerous core centres for highly qualified professional further training. In Upper Austria alone, in business year 2009/2010, there were approximately 7,300 courses with a total number of participants of approx. 77,000. The annually increasing Customer Satisfaction Index (surveyed anonymously by an external institute) was at 95.9% customer satisfaction, which verifies the high quality of the WIFI training programs.
At the site Linz, the only Robotic Competence Center in all of Austria is operated by the WIFI, and already looks back on a 20 year history of success. In addition to the numerous certificates, course participants can also earn a special robot license, a so-called Automation Card.
Numerous automation components are available for practical learning of a highly diverse range of applications.
Director of the WIFI Robotic Competence Center is Gerhard Michlbauer, who in addition to numerous academic titles, also has a KUKA certification of his own and is additionally lecturer at the Technical University Vienna as well as docent at the University of Cooperative Education Bautzen.
His comprehensive and decades of experience makes Michlbauer a recognised expert in all matters concerning robotics.
At the WIFI in Linz, he is in charge of a unique competence centre in all of Europe which has 12 industrial robots. He teaches eight of the common robot programming languages.
Michlbauer is enthusiastic about the active contact flange and the expanded range of application possibilities for robots offered by it. Because of its own sensitivity, this component is the ideal automation solution for sensitive surface treatment and gentle material handling. For the first time, special automation tasks are possible that require not only high precision and speed but also the requisite "dexterity and sensitivity".
This patent solution for applications of sensitive robotics consists of an innovative combination of highly-sensitive sensors and actuators, which can be used between tool and handling system as well as in processing machines. A standard control from KEBA is used for the lightning-fast control of the contact forces.
Automated surface treatment was made contact-sensitive through the use of this new end-of-arm tool. For the first time, an extremely fast and targeted application of force is possible. Fluctuations of the contact force up to a maximum value of 500 Newton are regulated by the integrated KEBA control autarkicly and immediately. The pneumatic elements independently compensate for sudden changes of force and bumps. Through the special mechanical design of the active contact flange, the risk of damage to workpieces caused by collisions with the tool is highly effectively reduced to a minimum. The system reacts and yields to even suddenly occurring disturbing influences.
This allows cost-effective, secure automation of activities which up to now were only possible with extremely high investment costs.
In the practical example with the cooperation partner WIFI Linz, sensitive gripping is playfully tested using Lego building blocks. These are carefully picked up in the right order and arranged into a construction. The strengths of the active contact flange part are demonstrated here by gently adding the building blocks to the existing construction without damaging it. Since the gripper features certain tolerances and deviations additionally occur through the gripping – just like a human hand – the respective building block must be sensitively placed and pressed on. Through the data fed back to the control, it can be detected whether the correct end position of the building block was achieved and whether the next Lego block can be picked up and placed.
This simple, playful application is applicable in a similar form in industry for gear assembly or joining processes, for example. The innovative and unique product solution approach results in new opportunities for the automation of machines and systems.
But the Lego application at the robotic centre of the WIFI is only a temporary solution until the system there can be correspondingly adapted. In future WIFI robotics courses, plastic injection components will be precisely fit and bonded together using the active contact flange. These adhesive application corresponds to actual practical requirements and thus represents an ideal application example.
The sensitive application of force of the active contact flange is the key to success for gluing, fitting together and testing surfaces and guarantees qualitatively high-value results.
The automation of surface treatment methods such as grinding, polishing, smoothing, stripping of paint, cleaning and deburring are the other main applications of the active contact flange in addition to those mentioned above. The sensitive handling of this tool is decisive here since the risk of damage to the material being processed due to uncontrolled contact pressure is particularly large.
The same applies to complex assembly applications – e. g. where there is a high risk of jamming – as well as for automated machine handling and highly precise setting up and positioning of sensitive objects.
KEBA Industrial Automation
The technology expert for optimized branch solutions
KEBA AG is an internationally successful high-tech company based in Linz, Austria. In line with its credo, “Automation by innovation”, KEBA develops and produces inventive, top quality automation solutions for the industrial, banking and service branches. Indeed, as a result of competence, experience and courage, KEBA is the technology and innovation leader in its respective market segments. In the industrial automation business area, KEBA focuses on the automation of machinery and robots, as well as the production of mobile operating devices and control systems.
Werner Hentscholek, Ing.
Marketing Communication, Industrial Automation
Gewerbepark Urfahr, A-4041 Linz, Austria
Phone: +43 732 7090 - 22610