On Programming and Control of Robots in Flexible Manufacturing Cells
When integrating industrial robots into a flexible manufacturing system, a fundamental task is to define the functionality of the shop-floor control (SFC) system and to specify the flow of information within the manufacturing system.
An SFC architecture supports this task by providing a generic solution that can be modified to suit an integrator's specific problems. Reusing an already developed architecture in this way has the potential of dramatically decreasing the engineering and programming efforts needed to solve the integration problems. Since such an architecture heavily affects the overall functions of the manufacturing system, it is very important that it is the first part of the system to be designed, not something that is added later.
This thesis proposes an SFC architecture tailored for a particular manufacturing system through modeling of the same. This model is to be used not only for control of the system, but also for simulation of it. Thus, before being released to control a manufacturing system, the manufacturing system is evaluated and the control model validated through simulation. When the model has been validated, it is also used to define the requirements of the components that are to be integrated. For a robot, this means that the architecture puts constraints and requirements on it, indirectly simplifying the task of programming it. Such a top-down integration approach ensures a harmonized integration, where each component is put in the proper perspective: the perspective of the whole manufacturing system.
The thesis also proposes the development of new robot programming environments for operators. It is important that those who have the process knowledge, also create the robot programs. To fulfil the special programming needs of the operators, a programming environment applying visual programming techniques and computer-assisted learning (CAL) techniques is proposed.