KUKA's TecDays 2008 were held in Augsburg at the beginning of April and featured solutions, technologies and innovations for automation and production plants.
Practical applications and tools, including a jigless cell for the automotive body plant, were presented to specially selected visitors, together with interesting technical information. In the demonstration, SafetyEYE, from Pilz Australia , monitored, controlled and protected the two infeed areas on a car door production line.
These days’ robots almost always work behind safety fences, screened from the application operator. The jigless cell showed how fences and barriers between man and robot can be dismantled using new safety concepts such as SafetyEYE. So in future, in conjunction with SafetyEYE, man and robot can work together in the same time and space.
KUKA RoboTeam in a jigless cell
A team of robots comprising two process robots and two handling robots welded the car door together in one work stage. Two jigless grippers combined to perform the geometric functions.
The two gripper half shells were positioned by co-operating robots (jigless gripper concept). The jigless bodyshop, therefore, is an innovative plant technology, which implements the new robot functionalities without the classic holding and clamping technology.
The cycle time can be minimised through direct geometric coupling. Autonomous control systems provide a high degree of flexibility. Co-operation between the team robots allows for highly flexible component positioning.
SafetyEYE protects workers in the infeed areas
These days, robots almost always work behind safety fences, screened from the application operator. New safety concepts such as SafetyEYE help to do away with the fences and barriers that come between man and robot.
From a bird's eye view, the SafetyEYE safe camera system simultaneously protects workers in both infeed areas independently. The operator enters the transfer area, where he is detected visually. This is safely recorded and the data is transmitted to the safety-related robot control system.
The aim is to avoid a collision; this can be guaranteed by the robot's reduced traverse speed, based on the distance from the operator. As a result, the operator can insert the component directly into the robot's gripper. At the same time, the operator has free access and a clear view of the process.
Safety and economy in harmony
The robot's drives are safely deactivated while the component is inserted. If the worker leaves the infeed area's danger zone, the robot will slowly start to operate. As soon as the worker has left the warning zone, production will run at full speed.
A safe stop in the infeed area / running the robot down safely while the workers are still in the infeed area saves on cycle times. As well as safeguarding the infeed area, safe robots also guarantee personal safety within the jigless cell through the software. As the robots can now move about close to the safety fence, the production area can be reduced, allowing for a compact body plant.
In its basic function, SafetyEYE can be used as a highly flexible safety sensor. However, when combined with the integrated PSS and connected to SafetyBus p – and in future to SafetyNET p – the safe camera system is so much more. The safety logic enables a complete manufacturing cell and all its signals to be safeguarded.
First of all, the connection to SafetyNET p represents an expansion of the I/O interface. An example: if data exchange with adjacent cells has been organised and zone monitoring has flexible wiring, the objects and their individual monitoring zones can be transferred dynamically.
So, in future, in conjunction with SafetyEYE, man and robot can work together in the same time and space. Nothing stands in the way of their working in tandem.