We are currently implementing the Sharework project in the machining shop floor located in Cembre’s plant in Brescia (Italy): a solution in which production engineers, operators and human resources are all engaged. Our idea is to develop a centralised logistic area with cobots and AGVs which can perform clamping and unclamping tasks, while operators focus on value added activities.
We aim at different goals:
- Improve ergonomics of operators’ workplace
- Use cobots for repetitive and non/less valuable activities
- Free operators time and use it for quality checks, maintenance operations and process optimisation
- Reduce errors
- Shorten time for personnel training
- Increase the well-being and satisfaction of operators
This vision is now taking shape in an integrated flexible system, shown in the figure below, in which semi-finished product units are transferred from the machines to the logistic station by AGVs, while rough materials flow in the opposite direction, from the logistic station to machines.
On site, the operator, with the assistance of a cobot, handles the parts and performs quality checks before and after the machining process. The setup is completed with boxes, in which components from and to central storage are packed, and with a screwdriver mounted on a reaction arm, which can be used by both the operator and the cobot during clamping and unclamping.
Figure 1: Mockup view of Sharework integrated flexible system
In this challenging project the contribution of CNR, the Italian research centre, is very important. Currently, the logistic station is placed at CNR experimental laboratory, where researchers and PhD students are conducting tests to validate the whole environment. The current prototype is shown in the figure below. We aim to complete it in the next few months and to take it back to our shop floor where more tests will be performed in real industrial conditions.
Figure 2: Sharework logistic station to be integrated in Cembre’s plan in Brescia (Italy) is now being tested and validated in the facilities of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR)
This project is part of a more complex scenario lead by the long-term vision that Cembre has developed, which is based on a simple but powerful concept: to transform the whole shop floor in an integrated flexible manufacturing system. People will move inside this new environment, sharing the space with automation devices and cooperating with artificial and autonomous agents to pursue production goals.
Complex activities with high human content will be centralised and moved far from machines, in workplaces more comfortable and ergonomic. Within Sharework perimeter, we plan to develop a new collaborative automation to support this idea of an Integrated Flexible Manufacturing Shop Floor.
Cembre Group is an international company designing, manufacturing and distributing accessories for cables, electrical connectors and tools for their installation. The company, with its industrial experience in the field of flexible manufacturing systems will contribute in the definition of system specifications and acts as one of the four industrial scenarios where Sharework system will be applied.